Just look at the Grand Starex. I’ve never driven anything this big and, as I walked towards it at the Hyundai Glenmarie car park, it struck me that I was going to have to be mindful of where I drove it.
The Grand Starex is over 5m long (5,125mm to be exact), and nearly 2m high (1,925mm) and wide (1,920mm).
The next challenge was that the Grand Starex could seat 11 people, presumably in relative comfort. It’s rare enough that I have that many people in my tiny apartment!
But no matter. This was going to be interesting, and the Grand Starex had quite a few surprises in store for me.
On the outside, the Grand Starex’s looks are not what you would call a head-turner but it’s not a bread van either.
It’s got strong, masculine and business-like lines, with just enough curves in front to give the Grand Starex better external appeal than some of the boxier MPVs you see on the road.
The wheel arches provide a sportier look and the prominent front, with wide grille and large headlamp clusters, adds to the handsome ”face”.
The rear of the MPV is a stylish presentation, with tail lamps mounted high.
Viewed from the side, the aerodynamic nose and large side windows with matt black frames ensure that the Grand Starex’s length does not dominate your observation.
Inside, the multiple rows of seats are what you notice immediately, and at first, you wonder whether the MPV can really fit nine at the back without the passengers feeling like sardines.
I managed to round up some friends to test it out. Since I couldn’t get 11 people for the drive, what we did was to get three people to sit in a row during one part of the journey, and in the next row for another part, and so on and so forth.
The verdict? The rows are spaced out well enough, giving good legroom.
The standard leather seats are comfortable, and if you get bored talking to each other, there’s the double din radio and DVD player with LCD display in front and a retractable, ceiling-mounted screen to keep you entertained.
Plus, comfort is maintained by six rear air outlets with individual controls for the air-conditioning, so there’s no need to worry about the cool air from the front not reaching all the way to the back.
There are numerous seat layout configurations, depending on your needs " ranging from seating for 11 to full cargo setting.
Entry and exit is made easy by a wide sliding door on each side.
From the driver’s seat, you get a commanding view all around. Despite its size, there are few blind spots.
What blew me away was the 2.5l CRDi diesel engine with variable geometry turbo (VGT), which ensured quick engine response, especially at low revs.
The engine churns out maximum power of 170PS at 3,800rpm, and a maximum torque of 392Nm from 2,000 to 2,500rpm.
The five-speed automatic transmission was smooth and did the job fine.
Suffice to say that I’ve never driven so fast in something so big before, and I was pulling away easily from some pretty surprised drivers on the highway, although you still have to be circumspect in taking corners, this being a pretty large vehicle after all.
The Grand Starex’s suspension makes for a comfortable ride, both for the driver and passengers.
Driving in town is no big hassle, as the MPV is surprisingly agile for its size, thanks to the power-assisted steering and the tight 5.6m turning radius.
This, as well as the rear-view camera that lets you see what’s out at the back via the front LCD display, helps a lot when you need to park the thing.
So would I buy the Hyundai Grand Starex. No, because I have trouble rounding up 10 people just for this test drive.
But for those of you who ferry football teams around on a regular basis, RM138,888 (on the road with insurance) is a steal.