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By Dylan Afuang

HYUNDAI MOTOR PHILIPPINES, INC. (HMPH) is continuing to bank on the market’s preference for family-friendly crossovers and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) when it recently introduced one new model under the former category and three more with the latter.

Leading Hyundai’s quartet of MPVs is the Stargazer X, a seven-seater, SUV-styled compact MPV; and the Custin, the brand’s all-new minivan for seven. New variants with new seating configurations are also introduced to the Stargazer and Staria large van, with the Stargazer GLS Premium six-seater and Staria Premium+ nine-seater, respectively.

The company also touted its latest offerings as “premium MPVs,” to reflect the more upscale interior and exterior accoutrements over their alternatives in the market.

“As a mobility solutions provider, our role is to constantly search for ways to cater to the potentials of the market. The MPV segment here in the country proves to be one, with its exponential growth over the years,” HMPH President Dong Wook Lee stated at a recent event that showcased the new vehicles.

“Today, we present what the luxury of movement is. Upgrades to our lineup were made so that our customers can have an even more exceptional MPV experience,” he added.

After its global debut in Indonesia last August, the Stargazer X has arrived with a price of P1.348 million. This Korean-badged model joined the niche and Japanese-dominated, strong-selling vehicle class of compact MPVs that aspire to capture the design and ride height of larger SUVs.

Over its MPV counterpart, the X aims to project a more rugged countenance with a larger front grille, bumper overriders, overfenders, roof rails, and 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels exclusive to this model. The crossover measures longer by 35mm and taller by 15mm than its counterpart, and clears the ground 15mm higher for a total of 200mm.

The cabin commits to the premium intent, as the black leather seats with red stitching for all three rows are surrounded by a digital instrument panel, and gloss black trim details that frame the eight-inch infotainment screen with wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Electronic parking brake, wireless phone charger, USB charging ports, and eight-speaker Bose audio round the long equipment list.

Under the vehicle’s sleek hood is a naturally-aspirated 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that courses 115ps and 144Nm of torque to the front wheels through an intelligent variable transmission (IVT), the similar setup found in the regular Stargazer.

In terms of safety though, the Stargazer X adds disc brakes to all four wheels and Advanced Driver Assistance System (which includes high-beam assist, forward collision avoidance, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, blind-spot avoidance, and rear-cross traffic alert) for enhanced safety.

Through its exterior size and price points, the Custin bridges the gap between the compact Stargazer and large Staria, and now even rivals a known Japanese midsize crossover. The Custin starts at P1.770 million in GLS guise and tops out at P2.080 million in Premium spec.

The Custin stylizes the traditional minivan format, particularly through creases that cut through the sliding doors on both sides, and at the rear, the car maker’s name spelled out above a wide LED light bar. Depending on the variant, the stylish van is supported by 17- or 18-inch wheels.

Power sliding doors and tailgate grant access to the cabin, which seats the driver and passenger up front, two people in the middle on the captain seats, and three abreast in the third row.

Wealthy cabin amenities come in the form of leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, 4.2-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster, a 10.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging ports, and 12V power outlet.

Powering the Custin is a turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder delivering 170ps and 253Nm of torque to the front wheels with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Accompanying the power is Hyundai’s advanced driver assist tech, called SmartSense, that bundles cruise control, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Moving on to the Stargazer Premium GLS six-seater, this model carries similar performance and feature content as the seven-seat stablemate, but nixes the second-row bench for two individual seats to create a more upscale interior feel. This retails for P1.298 million, or P10,000 more expensive than the seven-seat variant.

Last — and definitely not the least — compact Hyundai MPV is the Staria Premium+ nine-seater. Retailing for P2.83 million, this van offers an extra row of captain chairs over the Premium seven-seater and is powered by a 2.2-liter diesel producing 177ps and 430Nm of torque with all-wheel drive, and features Bose audio and leather seats.

Neil Banzuelo




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