Thursday, 29 May 2008

2008 Hyundai Starex MPV

A Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) can be a tricky little acquisition for most of us with a growing family - children with a maid in tow plus extended families (in-laws, out-laws and what not!). More often than not, you would probably have gotten remarks like "It's a bloody van!" when you suddenly drive up in one of those tall-ish people carrier like the Toyota Avanza, Innova and Nissan Serena, Hyundai Trajet et al. Strangely though, when you pay over hundreds of thousands of ringgit for a Toyota Estima (ACR50), Nissan Elgrand, Honda Stepwgn (via USF) and even the bulky and chunky wardrobe-on-wheels grey-import Alphard, such demeaning comments seem to have suddenly faded away into oblivion. On the flipside, try choosing a low-riding, car-like MPV like Honda Odyssey, you may get a comment like "It's much like a funeral hearse". And then there's the occassion that should you mention Naza Citra, Toyota Wish, Honda Stream, Mazda5 and Nissan Grand Livina, many will complain that their 3rd rows are useless for adults (especially the rebadged Kia). Oh dear! What a predicament.

So, how do we balance space, size, flexibility, packaging and practicality with aesthetics? (Forget enthusiast's definition of driveability) And some would even throw in the all-important badge/brand and the ever-sensitive price factors in the works! Towards this I have this to say: "Make up your mind! There is no such thing as a car-like MPV with fuel economy of a sedan, handles like a sports hatch/sedan, looks sleek like a sports wagon (think: Mercedes R-Class?), boot like a sedan even with 3rd row up and blah! blah! blah!...."

Now wait a minute...maybe there is a solution to this complex mix bag of demands after all! Enter the 'van' of a people mover in the form of the new Hyundai Starex! I must say I'm not much moved by the spate of recent launches like the confused SUV-MPV 'hybrid' Toyota Rush, 7-seater SUV Chevrolet Captiva, Inokom Santa Fe and the likes. But this is different, even at first sight and contact at its launch in One Utama shopping centre recently. Though it's Korean (you know how nasty and stubborn some old mindsets are) and it has been christened "A Van!" by my close accountant friend, I think it has some pretty nice credentials commesurating with its asking price of RM138,888 for an 11-seater Alphard-sized people mover. Take out the 4th row permanently and you'd have luggage space the size of say a Naza-Kia Sorento with 8 seating capacities still intact (9 if you wanna push your luck with 3 abreast - centre seat belt is standard - up front 1st row). Unbelievable? Believe it!

For a start it has a 2.5L diesel common-rail direct injection (CRDi) with Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) good for numbers like 170hp and 392Nm, mated to a 5-speed auto box for that leisurely and non-commercial panel-van drive...get it?
Apart from that it has a monocoque chassis, all-round disc brakes with ABS +EBD, McPherson struts up front and multilink at the back with coil springs. Internally it's A/C blowers for occupants in all 4 rows (12 vents in all if you wanna count). Bye-bye humid, stuffy and hot interiors in our scorching hot climate even when fully loaded with passengers!

Leather seats and a DVD player with LCD screen plus reverse camera is standard for the 11-seater variant (it can actually seat 12!). I have yet to see the standard 7-seater maodel asking for RM135,533 but there is a customised 7-seater (luxury) with meeting table of mahogany, a rear centre console, premium audio system, additional rear LCD screen for DVD video and luxurious Ottoman leather captain chairs. All these for 'only' RM172,888.

In all of singing praises for the new Hyundai Starex there are two things left undone:
1) After-market installation of electric powered door (minimum one side for the left rear door) should the writer get one for his ever-expanding family.
2) A road-test which For Wheels hope to be doing soon.

Maybe Michael Bay's "Transformers" has changed the writer's perception of bulky and chunky metal form presence on wheels after all ;)


10 comments:

BMW.Toyota said...

Consumers nowadays are spoilt for choices for MPVs: small, medium or big in sizes; Japanese or Korean brand etc. And we will all be waiting with anticipation for Proton's 1st MPV next year which will hopefully be priced affordably.

Malaccan view said...

Ya,this Korean morque look great and looking forward to test drive.
But still couldnt find the dealers that have spare for this.Can anyone help find one around Subang/USJ/Glemarie?

For said...

Yep. None of the showrooms I have visited seem to have Starex 2.5 CRDi yet :(

Maybe you can try calling Hyundai helpline?

AdRt said...

The outlet in Glenmarie, Shah Alam does.

For said...

Thanks adrt!

NAZA said...

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TQ

NAZA

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four-eye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
four-eye said...

Finally traded in my Innova for Starex and driven for 2 weeks now. Driven on the N-S highway and up to Genting.
What I like:
-powerful and torquey engine
-fuel consumption for this size of car 580km/63L diesel
-comfortable ride

What I don't like:
-rattle diesel engine
-lack of rear screen wiper
-should have printed antena instead of current fixed rod type to reduce the overall height

What is still lacking is the running costs e.g. spare parts etc.

Also the Government should introduce a greener diesel which is better for the engine and catalyst converter after the price increased.

mohd nasir said...

Hi Guys,

I bought one in August. Very happy so far with the car though not with Hyundai, due to below average service center service level. 5 year or 300k km warranty is more than i could ever ask for in a car. Peace of mind for me and my wallet.

This mpv won’t appeal to everyone due to the huge size but perfect for me, family of 8 with 1 more due next year. Let me list down the pros and cons :

Pros
1. Killer price at under RM140K. We previously drove the Honda Stream but the family has outgrown this ride. Was looking for a replacement. None was available except for grey import recon estima and alphard. Overpriced and with none or limited warranty. The starex was god sent.

2. Plenty of space for people and luggage.

3. Powerful engine. Fairly quiet from inside the mpv.

4. Kick ass touch screen dvd head unit with another monitor for rear passengers. Plays dvd, cd, radio, usb port for mp3. Great for kids.

5. Reverse camera with a head unit on the rear view mirror.

6. 5 year or 300k km warranty. Where can you get this ????

7. Air cond vents all around the mpv. Six vents for rear passengers.

8. Easy to drive and handle. Even for the missus.

Cons

1. Terrible Hyundai customer service level (at least at the outlet i frequented in jb). My rear camera malfunctioned, and they took 3 weeks just to tell me to bring the car back to them to dismantle the unit to be sent to KL for warranty claim. I told them off and sent the vehicle myself to KL at the original accessory shop. Fixed within 1 hour. Free.

2. No rear wiper

3. Fuel consumption a bit high. Around 8-9Km per liter. But then again i drive fast and this car is huge. At least diesel is 5 sen cheaper than petrol.

4. Roof mounted antenna adds to the already tall height. Problem getting into underground parking. Took it off and installed Bosch printed antenna. Reception just as good and no more parking issue.

5. No reverse sensor. Camera okay but night time visual not so clear. So installed a pair myself.

6. Big size makes maneuvering a bit of an issue in tight spaces. Now adjusting driving style to adapt.

7. Ride a bit bumpy on uneven road surface. Highway no problem. Maybe suspension a bit stiff or tyre quality suspect. Must follow exactly tyre pressure recommendation to alleviate the problem slightly.

All in all damn happy to have this minibus in the family. Not for everyone though. Big family yes. Buy just to show off don’t bother.

Cheers.

Nasir.

drlong said...

Hi four-eye and mohd nasir,

Thanks for your comments.
Having recently tested the new Starex over a few days, I do concur with your observations and valuable inferences.

If I may add, I found the driver's (and probably the whole of 1st row) seat thigh support a tad too short and more so, flat for both the backrest and seat bottom. As such, these items may not be so ideal for long journeys. Also, I discovered its wobbly footings into corners a wee bit unnerving, someting not so glaring in the SsangYong Stavic 2.7 XDi, its nearest competitor, if summoned in the 11-seater form.

However, the Hyundai's 392Nm of torque on tap and smoothness of its drivetrain is rather unbelievable. To be honest, the overall driving refinement and power delivery are even better than the Triton 3.2. Weird comparo I know but we don't have that many turbosdiesels options in Malaysia.

Happy motoring guys :)