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  Hyundai Grand Starex Royale Tested  
- Tuesday, January 19, 2010  By YS Khong  Bookmark and Share
 
 
 
     
Grand Starex Royale Looks good with the body kit

This is my second encounter with the Hyundai Starex, and this time, it is the up-market version, face-lifted a little, with a body kit and some minor upgrades, and sold as the Grand Starex Royale. According to a spokesman for the company, this is the...

[+ click to enlarge]
Grand Starex Royale Looks good with the body kit
Grand Starex Royale Looks good with the body kit
Lots of glass, and two sliding doors
Lots of glass, and two sliding doors
2.5 litre diesel is powerful
2.5 litre diesel is powerful
Despite its size, it drives much like a car
Despite its size, it drives much like a car

This is my second encounter with the Hyundai Starex, and this time, it is the up-market version, face-lifted a little, with a body kit and some minor upgrades, and sold as the Grand Starex Royale. According to a spokesman for the company, this is the only model offered, so it is either take it or leave it.

When I drove the Hyundai Starex last year, I was very impressed – with a 2.5 litre common-rail turbo charged diesel engine producing 170 PS and 390Nm of torque, it really can move, whether fully loaded or not. Coupled to a 5-speed automatic transmission, the power is transmitted smoothly and seamlessly, and despite its immense size, it is nimble through traffic, and responsive to throttle demand. It can be quite fun to drive, and although you may be awed by its pachyderm-ic proportions, it really can feel like putty in your hands

It out-accelerates most cars on the road, and I can almost guarantee the cars that are in the right lane in front of you will move over when their drivers see you in their rear view mirrors. Top speed is around 190 km/h, yet fuel consumption is around 12 litres per 100 kilometres if driven hard. The Variable Geometry turbo charger minimises what little turbo lag we get from diesel engines nowadays, making the Grand Starex a very responsive vehicle at any speed.

The drive train is a traditional front engine, rear wheel drive arrangement which allows the tail end to sit tight and allows you to put the power down when you need the get-up-and-go; around corners, it also feel good, and on hill climbs, you do not get that front wheel scrambling-for-traction feeling. Ride is set on the firm side of comfortable; a little softer would be better. The brakes are ventilated discs all round, and stopping is not an issue. In another report I mentioned that there was no ABS – I looked at the product brochure, and couldn’t find it there; I looked at the photos that I had taken of the engine compartment (this was after I had returned the vehicle) and I couldn’t see any ABS pump, possibly because I had not got the right angle that would show where it was sited; I called the people who gave me the car, an they couldn’t verify it until the article was published, so here I am, making amends to say , yes, there is ABS, which is a good point. Now I wonder if there is an LSD (Limited Slip differential) at the rear; perhaps they will call me after seeing this article. As for airbags, there are two, for the driver and front passenger.

My only problem with the vehicle is probably its size, being so huge that my other half said a definite no to my buying one, because she does not and cannot imagine herself parking this ‘monster’ (purely her opinion, and not mine, because I actually like it), and neither does she think it is possible to drive it into Kuala Lumpur and back without touching another vehicle. In reality, the Starex has a very tight turning circle of 5.6 metres, and is easy to handle, but she chose to have ‘selective deafness’ to all my rationalizing statements, and that was that. Perhaps the importers would consider a short wheelbase version, maybe a seven or eight seater later.

The Grand Starex Royale is a more luxurious version of the Starex. It remains the same size, but comes with additional trim and features for the retail price of RM145, 081.80 (on-the-road without insurance).

There are some minor changes to the front grille, and the Grand Starex Royale comes with a body kit that makes it look more low-slung. One minor problem with the side body kit is that it is attached to the doors, and you have to be careful when opening the front doors when parked next to a high kerb. The rear doors are sliding, so they do not pose a problem. What they could have is a power-sliding mechanism, a feature that would be really helpful as the sliding doors can be heavy if you are on a slope. A friend who happened to come by while I had the Starex commented that this version actually looks good, and if it had a power sliding door, it would make a great and pocket-book-friendly alternative to the Alphard.

Inside, the seats are luxuriously bound in leather, and there are altogether four rows of seats, with jump seats in the centre-most two rows, making it an 11-seater. A thoughtful feature is a reverse camera.

The air-conditioning is great, with front and rear blowers, and the rear vents are ceiling-mounted, with enough vents for all occupants. A DVD player comes standard, and the screen is mounted on the ceiling for the rear passengers to enjoy movies on the go. Inside, there is room for the driver and front passenger, and obviously a great deal of thought went into planning the ergonomics and cabin space for the front occupants. Even up to the second row, it is still pretty good, but if you load up the vehicle to its full capacity of 11 people, you will find, firstly, that there is no space for any luggage, so at best, it can be a ‘commuter’ for short hauls. For longer hauls, it might make sense to remove one of the remaining rows of seats to give more luggage and ‘breathing space for the rear occupants. Thus, if it was up to me, I would sell the Starex as an eight or nine seater; however, it is my understanding that there are some import duty concessions for 11-seater vehicles – you pay less tax, but end up with more seats than you need. The message then, is quite clear – take out the additional seats yourself, and make use it at home to play with your PlayStation GT4 game.

All in all, I would say the Grand Starex Royale is a good buy, offering a real value for money proposition, especially if you need the space and the carrying capacity.


     Picture Gallery
[+ click to enlarge]
Not much room at the back for luggage
Not much room at the back for luggage
Front occupants are the most pampered
Front occupants are the most pampered
Second row is good, but rear passengers can be a little cramped
Second row is good, but rear passengers can be a little cramped
Centre seat can be folded over to make a table
Centre seat can be folded over to make a table
Gear lever; note the manual shift option
Gear lever; note the manual shift option
Reverse camera
Reverse camera
Jump seat also serves as a table when not in use
Jump seat also serves as a table when not in use
Side skirts can hit high kerbs when door is opened
Side skirts can hit high kerbs when door is opened
Screen for reverse camera
Screen for reverse camera
Front suspension; note the replaceable ball joints and stabilizer bar
Front suspension; note the replaceable ball joints and stabilizer bar
Rear suspension - note the coil springs and panhard rod
Rear suspension - note the coil springs and panhard rod
Rear wiper
Rear wiper


 
 
 
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