Auto blogTue, 07 Oct 2014 11:58:00 EST
Horsepower may steal a lot of headlines, but the always-more-complex torque figure is often a critical one for both the workingman and the motoring playboy. The measure of rotational force represents the twist that can liquefy one's tires or haul one's horse trailer. Good stuff.
It follows then, that as with the horsepower-to-weight list that we assembled for you a few months ago, a list of cars that offer the most pound-feet with the fewest pounds to carry, is an interesting one to break down. Sure, there's a big difference in how the torque is applied from a turbocharged six-cylinder in a Swedish luxury sedan and a massive heavy-duty truck's turbo-diesel. But being the car/stat geeks that we are, we think it's kinda neat that those two vehicles rank near each other where torque and weight intersect.
As with the horsepower list, we've given you figures as pounds per every one pound-foot. Again broken down into broad price categories, we've got a mixed bag of 2014 and 2015 models here, too. Every effort has been made to select the most up-to-date prices and specs, and we've also to omitted some '14 cars that won't be re-upped after the ongoing yearly changeover.
With the latest generation of the i20 at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Hyundai continues to shake off its old image in Europe as a maker of cheap, unstylish little penalty boxes. This five-door hatch has to fit into the crowded, compact hatch market over there against popular entries like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo - a high bar for success. But the Korean automaker claims that its latest vehicle is up to the task because it's designed in Europe specifically with European buyers in mind.
The new i20 takes a small step a bit more upmarket with features like LED front and rear lighting and a rearview camera. However, the biggest change is the jump in interior room, though. The wheelbase is two-inches longer than before, and the growth gives the hatch best-in-class legroom and cargo capacity with the rear seats up, according to Hyundai. Rounding out the improvements is an available panoramic sunroof that the company also believes is unique for the segment.
For the Paris show, Hyundai made the i20 extra sweet by covering it in a chocolaty shade of brown to look like a little French confection on the show floor. Scroll down for all of the details about it, and for the impossibly epic launch video.
Hyundai has yet another high-performance concept for the upcoming 2014 SEMA Show in November to join its 708-horsepower Sonata. For this one, Ark Performance is taking the Genesis Sedan and pumping up the output by supercharging its 5.0-liter V8, along with a mile-long list of other modifications to mix speed with added luxury.
Ark calls the tuner concept the AR550 in reference to taking the Genesis' standard 420 horsepower V8 and boosting it an extra 130 hp with a Rotrex supercharger to bring total output to 550 hp. The mill also benefits from a freer breathing intake and exhaust, new engine management and more.
All of that extra power would be nearly useless without upgrades elsewhere to handle it, and Ark has some big additions to include. The one-off rides on an air suspension system and stiffer front and rear sway bars. To bring things to a halt faster, larger brakes from Brembo replace the standard units.
Here in North America, Hyundai has been historically known as a purveyor of affordable, content-laden everyday cars and crossovers. More recently, it's also been pushing upmarket and attempting to gain respect for its sporting joneses. In other parts of the world, however, the Korean automaker is a major force in commercial vehicles, providing everything from chassis cabs and dump trucks to fullsize motor coaches. Now, it's looking to push further overseas, squarely into Europe's already mature van business with this new HG350, a new commercial vehicle that will form the basis for a cargo van, passenger transport and flatbed truck.
This three-pronged approach will see Hyundai fighting directly against the new Ford Transit, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and models like the recently overhauled Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer twins. The rear-drive, six-speed manual-equipped range is available in 3.5-ton cargo or flatbed spec, or in 4.0-ton guise with as many as 15 seats. The cargo version, incidentally, can hold up to 456 cubic feet of stuff. Regardless of configuration, power comes from a common-rail diesel displacing 2.5 liters with either 148 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque or 168 hp and 311 lb-ft.
With the American market finally embracing Euro-style cargo vans, does that mean that Hyundai might bring the HG350 here? Not likely. "While a heck of a vehicle, this isn't anything we are seriously considering right now for the US market," Jim Trainor, Hyundai Motor America's national manager of product public relations, tells Autoblog.
Hyundai no longer has to pay $248 million as part of a court ruling from a fatal accident in Montana that killed two cousins in a 2005 Tiburon. The judge hearing the appeal revised the amount down to a total of about $81 million. She upheld the original $8.1 million in actual damages but reduced the punitive damages to $73 million from the previous $240 million.
According to Bloomberg, the judge refused Hyundai's desire to reduce the amount even further. She said in her court order that the company showed "an indifference to or reckless disregard of the health and safety of the motoring public."
In the original case, the families' attorneys alleged that the cracking of a faulty steering knuckle caused the fatal accident. Hyundai argued that fireworks had been let off inside the vehicle, which caused the driver to swerve and crash. In a statement released after the ruling, the automaker claimed that evidence supporting its defense was barred from the trial. According to Bloomberg, had the original amount of damages been upheld, it would have been the sixth-highest amount awarded by a jury in the US this year.
Doing things Gangnam style apparently costs a serious chunk of change, because Hyundai is reportedly paying roughly $10 billion for 19.6 acres (79,342 square meters) of land in the trendy district of Seoul, South Korea, to serve as the location for its new headquarters. That eye-popping number represents the highest amount ever paid for a plot of land in South Korea, according to Reuters. The hefty price tag reportedly scared investors enough for stock prices to sink dramatically.
Shareholders were apparently upset because the massive outlay could instead have been put back into the company for research and development or other improvements. Instead, the company reportedly bid triple the land's appraised value, says Reuters. The announcement caused Hyundai's stock price to plummet a massive 9 percent, and there were losses from Kia and the company's parts arm, as well. All told, the three of them lost nearly $8 billion in value from the falling share prices - almost enough to pay for the controversial land.
Hyundai currently has its headquarters on the outskirts of Seoul, but seems keen to move to the high-end Gangnam district to show off its rising status. It plans to build a new office complex, hotel, convention center and theme park on the site. According to an analyst speaking to Reuters, that could all cost an additional $6 billion to complete.
The Dude abides, but his deep voice is going to be coming from your TV a little less. After seven years of his earthiness, laid back actor Jeff Bridges is no longer the voice of Hyundai in the brand's advertising. He has been replaced by comedian Paul Rudd who is already narrating the new commercial for the 2015 Hyundai Sonata.
"We were looking for a voice that could be recognizable and relatable to a new generation of car buyers," said Steve Shannon, vice president of Marketing, Hyundai Motor America, in the company's announcement of the deal. "Rudd can be serious, humorous, informative and entertaining all at the same time."
According to Hyundai spokesperson Derek Joyce speaking to Autoblog, the deal with Rudd goes for the next three years. "He's our tier one voice, and that's going to affect tone" in the company's ads," Joyce said. The first spot with Rudd is titled Co-Pilot, and it stars a backseat driver losing out to the Sonata's navigation system and safety features at every turn. Rudd isn't physically in the commercial but does the ending voiceover. The company wouldn't say when the next ad with the new pitchman might debut.
Coupefying hatchbacks is all the rage in the European market these days. Its what Opel and Vauxhall did with the latest Astra, and what Renault did with the Mégane, and now Hyundai is preparing to follow a similar formula, only in a smaller form.
While the i30 is the model with which Hyundai competes with the aforementioned Astra and Mégane, to say nothing of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, it's the smaller i20 - recently introduced in five-door form - which the Korean automaker plans to give the coupe treatment.
Previewed in the teaser image above, the upcoming new i20 Coupe will enter a somewhat shrinking market for three-door superminis. Though the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa are still available with three portals, their forms are otherwise no more coupe-like than their five-door counterparts. (Mini has tried a similar approach with its Coupe, and Citroën has forked the C3 five-door and DS3 three-door, but those are decidedly more upscale offerings.) Alongside the Seat Ibiza, Hyundai is one of the few mainstream automakers offering three-door superminis significantly distinguished from its five-door versions.
Hyundai is no stranger to the hybrid game, selling a gas-electric version of the Sonata in the US since 2011. The 2015-model-year version gets 38 miles per gallon combined, which is certainly admirable but not quite in the same league as the hybrid champion Toyota Prius (50 mpg combined). New spy shots reveal that Hyundai might be finally ready to targeting the non-plug-in fuel economy leader. Why else would some mysterious Hyundai prototypes be cruising through the desert hills with a few Priuses in tow?
Our photographers believe these mules hint at an all-new hybrid model, which makes us think of the Blue Will concept from the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. At the time, Hyundai said the concept could be a preview of a future dedicated hybrid that would compete with the Prius.
We don't know what it all means for sure, but our spy photographers found four heavily modified Elantra GT prototypes driving around with a standard Prius and a Prius V. As if that wasn't enough of a clue, the four changed Elantras represent different approaches Hyundai might be using to go after Toyota, since there were two versions driving by our photographer's lenses, with different rear extensions indicating that both the standard Prius and the larger V might be in Hyundai's sights.
The idea of Hyundai marketing a luxury automobile might have seemed ridiculous a decade ago, but that was before the Genesis sedan, Genesis coupe and Equus came along. Now that buyers seem more accustomed to the notion of an upscale Hyundai, the Korean automaker is said to be considering launching a luxury crossover to take on the likes of the Lexus RX and Cadillac SRX.
The report comes from our compatriots at Edmunds, who spoke to Dave Zuchowski, head of Hyundai's North American unit, who said that the project is not yet part of the company's plan, but that "it is something under consideration."
The last time Hyundai entered that territory was with the Veracruz (pictured above), a model that was sometimes compared to but ultimately failed to compete with the Lexus RX when it was sold between 2006 and 2011. The Veracruz was effectively replaced by the seven-passenger Santa Fe with which it shared its underpinnings. This new project being considered would similarly be based on the latest Santa Fe, and the challenge Hyundai is facing once again would be to position it as a sufficiently upscale product to warrant a premium sticker price.