Hyundai not going soft on competition

The motoring industry is a buzz with exciting development, with new models dropping from the skies like confetti at a wedding. Some are already here while others will roll in during the second and third quarter.

On the business front, after years of a string of misfortunes, culminating in the tragic tsunami, Toyota has reclaimed the number one slot as the world’s biggest auto maker. In the process, they have quadrupled their net profit thanks to a laser sharp cost-cutting programme and a weaker YEN. On the local front, its acquisition of the CFAO Group, that owns DT Dobie, continues to cause anxiety across the industry.

The first Hino trucks are set to roll of the assembly lines in couple of weeks, sending extra shivers down the spines of the custodians of the Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Hyundai and Nissan Diesel nameplates.

While Toyota’s market dominance has had them enjoy a cosy comfort zone for years, which relegated customer service to the back banner, things seem to have shifted and they are now splashing millions to transform their showrooms and workshops. With a kitty in the tune of $40 million (Sh3.5 billion) set to be spent on physical infrastructure and training, can we expect to see some positive change? I surely hope so.

This year will see the introduction of the new Isuzu D-Max pickup that promises to shift attention from the Ford T6, but today we look on the softer side. There is a brigade of crossover vehicles headed your way.

Hyundai Sante Fe 2013

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The Koreans are kicking a storm with the new Hyundai Santa Fe. Its new edgy design begins at the front and flows to the rear with exquisite Korean elegance. The three thick horizontal grills and large fog lights with integrated daytime running lights give it a bold, premium and aggressive look. Gone are the days when this Asian brand could be frowned upon. You will easily snap one up without second thought. With a little confidence building through sustained customer interaction and marketing, Hyundai could soon be a force to reckon with locally. Build quality is up and the value for money proposition is certainly worth considering. Because of the ever growing demand for space, it can be ordered with an extended wheelbase version that either seats seven or a more luxurious six-seater.

We are likely to be restricted to the six-speed, 2.4 litre petrol engine able to muster 141kW@3800rpm* and manages a claimed 9.0 litres*/ kilometers or a diesel powered 2.2 able to achieve a claimed 8.3l/km* from145kW@3800rpm and an impressive 436Nm of torque.

You now get extras like partial leather trim surrounded by high-grade wood-looking trim and premium feel plastics. The cookie jar is full of sweets like fancy alloy wheel designs, xenon lights, rear-view camera and tech-like Flex Steer, Electronic stability control.

Honda CRV 2013

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The fourth generation Honda CRV will be a refreshing welcome after long hiatus. Visually familiar but significantly different, this trendsetting SUV that benchmarked this segment in 1995 will give Toyota’s 2013 RAV4 something to think about. It is also squarely eyeing the Hyundai and more specifically the Nissan Qashqai. It is marginally quicker than the Hyundai managing 190kph but more importantly, it has a claimed average fuel consumption of 7.2 litres every 100km*. That translates of about 13.9km* for every litre sipped. It has a fuel tank capacity of 58 litres that should get you 800km on a single tank. Now that I would like to see. It is 4570mm long and 1650mm tall with a gross vehicle mass of 1955kg, making it larger in every direction than the model it replaces. It, however, has a lower ground clearance at 180mm. No pricing available yetBigger, better and sharper looking, that’s how I would describe the 2013 Toyota Rav 4. It is due here in a few weeks with 2.0 and 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engines. Like the two vehicles above, it will come loaded with goodies to lure the discerning and increasingly demanding motorist. It is even more car-like and seats lower to the ground at 160mm and that translates to better performance from its 172bhp* four-cylinder engine. Four models will be available in auto and manual with prices will probably start at Sh5.2 million, depending on the exchange rate.

Other new models set for the showroom are the new and hugely improved 2013 Subaru Forester 2013 and feisty Ford Kuga.

*Fuel consumption and performance figures quoted in this article(s) have been sourced from manufacturer data,as well as other reliable tests from independent sources.Only use these estimates as a guide,as they vary depending on local conditions,altitude,fuel quality,load and driving style.

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About the Author

Michael Mwai

Creator and founder of www.autovaulttv.com, is a respected motoring journalist and vehicle consultant based in East Africa. His passion for motoring has seen him pen a weekly column for local newspapers in Kenya for over a decade. He has written for the Standard Newspapers, Nation’s Business Daily and he contributes for Msafiri (KQ inflight), Kenya Yetu, True Love and SME Today magazines.



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