2019 Hyundai Veloster first drive review: A superb second act

The first-generation Hyundai Veloster was a fun little thing, despite Hyundai not really knowing how to build a properly sporty car at the time. It wasn't an area where the automaker had a lot of experience, and it showed.

It's a wonder what seven years will do. The 2019 Veloster feels better put-together before you even turn the key, and once you set out on the road, you'll find a solid, competent sports hatch that is ready to compete against some long-time segment darlings.

A looker full o' quirks

If there's one thing the Hyundai Veloster has always, and will (hopefully) always have, it's that Zooey Deschanel brand of sanitary quirkiness. The driver's side has one big, coupe-like door, but the passenger side has two smaller doors. On the inside of the top-spec Turbo Ultimate trim, the driver and passenger door panels rock different colors.

But whereas the last generation was quite a bit much to behold, Hyundai's styling has grown more cohesive. It now carries a relatively familiar family face, but there's still some weird stuff to help it stand out, like wonky scalloping on the quarter panels or the wee rear diffuser that straddles the center-exit exhaust.

Weirdness doesn't beget a super-cramped interior, thankfully. There's ample room up front, and thanks to the placement of various cut lines and trim pieces, I feel like I have a space all my own as the driver. The second row is a bit cozier -- at 6 feet tall, my hair ever so slightly brushes the headliner and my knees are only about an inch from the front row, but it feels roomier than before, if only barely.

Back-road hustler

The base Veloster comes with a 2.0-liter I4 good for 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. If you care only about standing out and not standing on the gas pedal, it'll do you just fine. Automatic emergency braking and a 7-inch infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) are standard, regardless of cog-swapper.

But Hyundai only has its Turbo models available during my time in Austin. For a four-grand price premium, the engine changes to a 1.6-liter turbocharged I4 putting out 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. The exterior is a bit more expressive, as are the interior color choices, adding splashes of color in the seats and on the dash. The base R-Spec trim can only be had with a six-speed manual, whereas the range-topping Ultimate is mated exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch unit.

The R-Spec's manual is very good, with a clutch bite point that has plenty of feel and a B&M-developed short shifter that is tight and rewarding to use with every shift. The DCT is almost as good as the manual, and buyers will like it, but it gets confused when downshifts bring the engine near redline, and I keep experiencing a delay between pulling the paddle and feeling the clutches engaging a lower gear. When shifting up, though, the DCT blasts through the gears as well as any other competitor's transmission.

No matter the method, the drive is rewarding. A new multi-link rear suspension keeps the car well composed in tight corners, and lighter aluminum steering knuckles has the car digging into turns with confidence. The car feels vastly more solid than it ever did, and when the curves get tight, there's little body roll. The only tradeoff here is that its stiffness is more obvious over highway expansion joints and poor-quality pavement.

The 1.6-liter offers enough low-down torque that you won't have to reach toward the high end of the tachometer in daily driving, and it sounds quite nice no matter the revs -- something I first noticed when this engine landed in the Hyundai Elantra Sport. There is a fake-sound synthesizer that bumps up the volume in the cabin, and while it's never so loud as to be annoying, I believe the engine sounds better with it turned off.

The 200-ish-hp sporty car segment has some heavy hitters like the Honda Civic Siand Volkswagen Golf GTI. Hyundai morphed the Veloster into something that's wildly better to drive, and while it feels more adult, it still hasn't lost that little bit of weirdness that makes it unique. If an automaker wants to perform in this segment, it needs to bring its A-game, and this time around, Hyundai did.

2018 Hyundai Kona Named One of Wards 10 Best Interiors

The all-new 2018 Hyundai Kona's sleek and modern interior was acknowledged by the editors of WardsAuto today, which named it to this year's Wards 10 Best Interiors list.

"The Kona smashes the notion that a small-vehicle interior will be bland or have low-quality materials," said Christie Schweinsberg, senior editor, WardsAuto. "Thanks to its matte black plastics, great head-up display, generous advanced-safety technologies and funky lime-green accents -- all for under $30,000 -- the inside of Hyundai's new small CUV knocked our judges' socks off."

WardsAuto editors studied the vehicles in February and March, selecting the 10 winners from a field of 40 vehicles with new or significantly refreshed interiors. Editors evaluated the vehicles' features including ergonomics, driver information, fit-and-finish, materials, value, safety, comfort and design harmony. There was no price cap on entries. Ultimately, WardsAuto editors are looking for interiors that raise the bar not only for that particular brand but also for that vehicle's segment.

"The all-new Kona offers buyers a wide and spacious feel even with its compact dimensions and low roof line by using a strong horizontal character line," said Andrew Moir, ‎interior design manager, ‎Hyundai Design North America. "The floating display design adds further to the occupants' sense of interior openness and the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) controls are surrounded by soft, fluid details that contribute to a sensuous experience and enhance the comfort-focused environment."

During the selection process, editors pay close attention to fit-and-finish, checking to see if seams are straight and match up cleanly on armrests, instrument panels and throughout the interior. Editors climb in and out of back seats and third rows in larger CUVs and SUVs to check overall comfort levels, headroom and legroom. Another increasingly important category is driver information. Smartphone integrations and voice-activation systems also are rigorously tested.

INTERIOR OVERVIEW

Hyundai designers also maximized Kona's interior space for luggage storage capabilities, reflecting the requirements of customers with active lifestyles. The split-folding rear seats fold flat via a dual-level loading floor that gives three inches of additional vertical space and allows easy access for a variety of recreational equipment.

Technology is a strong selling point of Kona with standard features including Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. Owners can also enjoy the convenience of Qi wireless charging for their smartphones.

Kona has a number of unique and exclusive features compared with competitive vehicles. For example, Kona offers the largest Heads-Up Display (HUD) in the segment. The display is more than twice as bright as the competition and double the size, making it a lot easier to keep tabs on speed, audio, navigation and active safety information. Kona's Driver Attention Warning is also a segment first, adding to Kona's level of active safety.  

ADVANCED INFOTAINMENT AND CONNECTIVITY

Kona offers a full suite of sophisticated technologies paired with user-friendly functionality to keep passengers informed and entertained. The premium infotainment system offers various advanced connectivity features, including standard Android Auto™ and standard Apple CarPlay™, SiriusXM® Radio, HD Radio and next-generation Blue Link® LTE-powered connectivity. The standard seven-inch color LCD display includes AM/FM/MP3 touchscreen audio, auxiliary input jacks, voice-command recognition and Rear View Monitor. The available eight-inch touchscreen navigation display includes next-generation Blue Link, traffic flow and incident data via HD radio, Infinity® premium audio with eight speakers, subwoofer and Clari-Fi ™ music-restoration technology.

Kona offers features that they would be accustomed to in larger CUV segments, such as a large color LCD electroluminescent gauge cluster, power driver's seat, heated leather seats, automatic air conditioning and proximity key.

ACTIVE SAFETY

Kona offers advanced active safety features, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), which uses the car's front-facing camera and radar to help detect an imminent collision and to help avoid impact or minimize damage by braking autonomously. Three additional systems also utilize the front-view camera to boost safety and convenience: Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), High Beam Assist (HBA), and Driver Attention Warning (DAW).

Kona radar systems also assist with the Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) to help detect approaching vehicles that may be obscured from view during highway driving. The Rear Cross-Traffic Collison Warning (RCCW) helps detect when another vehicle may have entered the car's rearward path, such as backing out of a parking spot, by providing a driver alert.

Cuerpo Policial Aruba receives first batch of new Isuzu units

Recently on the shorwoom of Garage Centraal Aruba a ceremony was held for the delivery of the first batch of vehicles sold by Garage Centraal Aruba to the Aruban Police.

This first delivery, consisting of 4 Isuzu D-Max DoubleCab and 4 Isuzu mu-X units, will be used for the Traffic Section and the Planologie sections, with an additional number of Isuzu units on route for delivery soon. The delivery ceremony counted with the presence of, among others, Justice Minister Andin Bikker and the just appointed KPA head Andrew S. Hoo.

For Garage Centraal Aruba is a source of inmense satisfaction to be able to provide units of a brand known for its superior quality such as Isuzu, for use in such a critical and noble task as the protection of Aruba's citizens. 

2018 Hyundai Sonata: What we liked and didn't like

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata sedan is an all-around ride with its pleasing aesthetics, smooth performance, an impressive list of safety features and available add-ons and its affordable price tag.

The 2018 Sonata underwent a redesign from the 2017 model with some of the most notable changes including changes to its hood, front fenders, trunk, front and rear fascia, headlights, taillights and grille. Some of the changes including some styling changes, and the use of new sheet metal on the hood, front fenders and trunk, and non-sheet metal on the front and rear fascia, headlights and taillights. 

Before we get into things, let's take a look at some of the changes to the sedan's exterior. First, the 2017 model: 

2017 Sonata

Now for the redesigned 2018 model:  

2018 Sonata

What I liked: 

The fact that a lot of features and tech come standard with the Sonata, and that any of them can be added. Add in the fact that these features managed to be completely effective without feeling intrusive, sign me up.

When I first checked out the exterior and finally sat inside and examined the interior, I was personally blown away at the price of this car. I've been in cars much more expensive that weren't as roomy or comfortable or even looked as good as this one did on the inside and out. The Sonata is one good-looking car, and Hyundai did a great job on the 2018 model's redesign to incorporate parts of the Genesis exterior design and streamlining the features on the inside. After driving it for a week, I was nearly left empty-handed in the complaint department because it has everything someone looking for a reliable sedan could want. 

It's roomy and comfortable on the inside, is loaded with safety features, has an impressive amount of trunk storage and feels much more luxurious than ever given credit for.

What I didn't like: 

Just because I feel like I have to slightly gripe about something, for the Sonata's looks and feels on the inside and out, it really lacks a punch. The Sport mode didn't change much, and that 185 horsepower makes it feel a little weak when compared to other sedans of its size. 

The Sonata comes with three different powertrain options in the 2.4-liter I had, the 1.6-liter Eco that makes 178 horsepower with improved fuel economy and the 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo that spikes its horsepower capabilities to 245 and its torque to 260-pounds. The 2.0-liter is available with the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models that range in price from $25,600 to $30,450. 

This lacking of horsepower doesn't stand out until you truly start to look and feel for it, so I wouldn't let that fact keep any prospective buyers away. 

Source: Minnesota Live

Hyundai Mobis taps first non-Korean leader to drive autonomous investment

Hyundai Mobis Co. may be Hyundai Motor Co.'s biggest auto parts supplier, but that didn't help it win early inroads with Hyundai in a critical field.

Rival South Korean supplier Mando Corp. beat Mobis in supplying the automaker with a driver-assistance system that bundles several semi-autonomous technologies that are all the rage today. The Hyundai Motor Group even awarded Mando a prize for the technology in 2016.

Mobis, by contrast, is just this year delivering its first driver-assist system to Hyundai.

Stung by the slow start, Hyundai Mobis now wants to leapfrog from fast follower to leader.

To kick the effort into higher gear, Mobis CEO Lim Young-deuk has for the first time tapped a non-Korean to head the company's rapidly expanding Driver Assistance Systems division responsible for autonomous driving. It is part of an urgent campaign to infuse the unit with more expertise and money.

Gregory Baratoff was recruited from Germany's Continental AG and became the new vice president for driver-assist technology in July 2017. The American engineer is a computer vision specialist who began his career at Daimler AG doing augmented reality, then moved to Siemens VDO to work on cameras for driving-assist systems. Continental bought Siemens VDO in 2007.

Baratoff's first priority is to quickly ramp up spending in autonomous driving technology. The new vision for Smart speaks to how much new demands of electrification and autonomy are revamping corporate strategies, even for a longtime technology leader such as Daimler. 

 

A soaring investment is needed to play catch-up in the race for Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving systems, Baratoff said. If Mobis keeps investing at its current levels, leaders such as Continental or even Mando will always be in the lead.

"To put it simply, by 2021 we want to catch up, and by 2025 we want to lead," the soft-spoken Baratoff said in an interview at Mobis' global r&d center outside Seoul. "We may have high growth rates, but we're starting lower and maybe later than others."

The Hyundai Mobis tech center is abuzz with sub-suppliers anxious to team with the South Korean company as it increases investment in driver assistance systems. Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

Hyundai Mobis plans to increase investment in driver-assistance systems by 20-30 percent each year through 2021, Baratoff said. Headcount is expected to grow up to 15 percent by then.

Hyundai Mobis has about 450 people working in the field in South Korea and 150 at three overseas tech centers, near Detroit, in Hyderabad, India, and in Frankfurt.

 

Massive investment

"We are now starting massive investment," said Hwang Jae Ho, director of the driver-assist unit.

Hwang declined to give figures. But he said Mobis will boost r&d spending to about 10 percent of core revenue by 2021. Half that spending will be channeled into driver-assistance systems and infotainment. Today, by contrast, only 7 percent of the company's overall revenue is plowed back into r&d.

"Compared with the competition, it's a pretty good number," Baratoff said. "That's a good sign to the outside that we're willing to invest the sufficient amount needed to get these topics going."

Delivering to the Hyundai Motor Group is critical to Mobis, which gets a big majority of its worldwide sales from group companies.

This year, Mobis will begin selling a suite of technologies to Hyundai Motor bundled in its cars and marketed as highway driving assist, or HDA.

The Level-2 HDA package has one camera and one millimeter-wave radar. The basic setup doesn't enable lane tracing to keep the car automatically centered or lane changing. But Mobis is working on a more advanced Level-2 system for sale in late 2019 or early 2020. That version will deliver lane-changing capability and autonomy on highway on- and off-ramps.

 

Help wanted

Looking ahead, Baratoff is focused on speeding development of Level 3 and 4 technologies.

That will require not only more money but also more outside expertise, he said.

Part of the strategy is headhunting more international talent, but Baratoff also will be scouring the globe for new technology partners.

"That's my goal, to have a very fast development team," he said.

Mobis already has identified two partners in Germany. One is working with Mobis on low-cost, mass-market radar. The other is assisting on high-end radar for Level 3 and beyond.

It is also partnering with a group of South Korean companies to develop a low-cost, entry-level lidar technology for Level 3 autonomous driving by around 2023.

Hyundai concept takes new design direction

GENEVA — Hyundai is looking partly to its past in embracing a new design direction previewed by the Le Fil Rouge concept.

Hyundai calls the Le Fil Rouge a reinterpretation of the design language that originated in 1974 with the brand's first concept, the HDC-1.

The brand is phasing out what it has called its fluidic sculpture design era, dating back to 2007, in favor of what it is calling sensuous sportiness on future sedans and crossovers.

"[The design] is so seamless it looks like the vehicle was drawn with one single line," Sang Yup Lee, Hyundai's head of styling, said while introducing the concept at the Geneva auto show last week.

"Le fil rouge" is a French phrase that translates in English to "the common thread."

"Our goal is to build a beloved brand by creating vehicles with heightened emotional value to reshape the landscape of car design," Lee said. "This is the foundation of our concept."

The concept's styling features a wide, layered hood, a mix of concave and convex forms, layered crisp lines and a three-dimensional cascading grille with parametric jewels inside.

The new vision for Smart speaks to how much new demands of electrification and autonomy are revamping corporate strategies, even for a longtime technology leader such as Daimler. 

The interior features what Hyundai calls "revitalized wood and high-tech fabrics," and "a panoramic floating display coupled with haptic technology."

Luc Donckerwolke, head of Hyundai's Design Center, says the latest styling seeks to harmonize four basic elements: proportion, architecture, styling and technology.

Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, vice president of marketing and product at Hyundai Europe, says some notable features on the Le Fil Rouge, such as the cascading grille, will soon appear in the brand's production vehicles.

Hyundai unveils the Kona Electric compact SUV with a range of up to 292 miles

Today, Hyundai officially unveiled the new Kona Electric compact SUV through a global digital launch.

The company released the spec list – revealing two different versions and one with a range of up to 292 miles.

The new Kona Electric compact SUV will be offered in a ‘Short-range’ battery pack option, which consists of a 39.2 kWh battery pack enabling a range of 300 km (186 miles) on a single charge.

That version of the vehicle will also be equipped with a 99 kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor putting down 395 Nm of torque and a top speed of 167 km/h (103 mph).

Another higher-performance version with a ‘Long-range’ battery pack option will also be available.

Under this configuration, the Kona Electric will be equipped with a 64 kWh battery pack, which will enable “nearly 470 km (292 miles) of range.”

It will also have a more powerful 150 kW motor, which will enable the same top speed, but it will accelerate quicker: 7,6-sec 0 to 100 km/h vs 9.3-sec for the base battery pack and motor.

Both versions will be equipped a 7.2 kW onboard charger and capable of DC fast-charging up to 100 kW.

All the specs released by Hyundai are based on WLTP regulations, which are reportedly more accurate than the older NEDC standard, but it still might not be completely representative of real-world range.

In terms of powertrain design, Hyundai has opted for what has become the standard skateboard battery pack sitting on the floor of the vehicle:

For the battery cells, Hyundai decided to use lithium-ion polymer, which generally offers lower energy density than cells without a dry solid polymer as an electrolyte, but some see the technology to be slightly safer.

As for the design of the vehicle, it obviously closely resembles the design of the non-electric version of the Kona – much like Hyundai’s other multi-powertrain vehicle, the Ioniq.

Here are a few images released by the Korean automaker today:

hyundai-kona-electric-2018-02-e2e

The vehicle is equipped with a seven-inch information screen that can run both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto –  a bigger eight-inch system with navigation is also available as an option.

The Kona Electric also features Hyundai’s SmartSense series of active safety and driving assistance systems, including :its Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection, Lane Keeping Assist (standard), Lane Following Assist, Blind-Spot Collision Warning including Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Driver Attention Warning and Intelligent Speed Limit Warning.”

Hyundai didn’t release pricing yet, but the vehicle is expected to start in the low-30,000s euros when it launches in Korea and Europe later this year before arriving in North America.

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About Garage Centraal

The goal of Garage Centraal Aruba is simple: that everyone that needs a vehicle is able to have a vehicle that satisfies their needs and expectations, with expert service and parts support.

That is why we offer brand new, award winning vehicles from the renowned Hyundai brand, as well as Isuzu pickups and trucks. We also offer an extensive catalog of commercial vehicles from Hyundai as well as Hyundai Construction.

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