Filipinos love to travel in groups, be it with family or friends. Finding a van, AUV or other form of people carrier is common in virtually every home, but for the well to-do, there's now an opportunity to maintain status symbol through a means of transportation that is both luxurious and designed for company.
Enter the Grand Starex Limousine, a new model from Hyundai touted as the most deluxe of them all.
Inspired by custom-made and stylized hi-top vans in Japan, the Limousine is the supersized variant of the already upsized Grand Starex. The bubble roof allows for extra headroom and amenities, while a low-stance bodykit accentuates the European-inspired design. New chrome wheels make up just one element that puts the luxe in deluxe, as the interiors offer more features worth exploring.
The Grand Starex Limousine feels like a lounge inside, designed with space and comfort in mind to alleviate the dullness of waiting. Being a "Limousine", a 12-seat configuration is favored over cargo space. The manually retractable curtains make another component of luxury, that being of privacy, while black leather on the plush seats presents some class that might be nicer than your office chair. The added function of configuring the second row seats to face the third row is useful for impromptu meetings in traffic. The last row is foldable for extra room.
If you're looking for a limousine, even a Hyundai one, you're probably someone who has a chauffeur. That said, you probably don't care but it would be good for your driver to know that the Grand Limousine's windshield is massive, giving a good view of the road ahead. You'll probably need to orient him on the controls and switches-- of which this vehicle is abundant-- but you won't have to worry because the layout of instrumentation on the dashboard is organized and ergonomic.
For entertainment, a pre-installed AVT DVD system with dash mounted LCD is supplemented by a bigger LCD screen for the passengers to enjoy. Also included is a USB port and an additional auxiliary input jack to connect an iPod or similar audio devices.
As for power, overall engine performance is okay despite extra load. The 2.5-liter CRDi engine with variable geometry turbo from Borg Warner promises to deliver 25% more power and 24% more torque than a common waste gate system. This results in maximum output of 170hp at 3800rpm and 40kg-m of torque at 2000-2500 rpm.
Taking this vehicle to mountainside roads was how the steering response and handling were tested. For a van, especially of its size, the result was impressive. Brake performance did decrease slightly with the extra weight compared to the standard variant previously tested. I wonder though if the designer considered the constriction the added height meant in relation to limited headroom parking buildings and basements.
The Grand Starex was a good product which comfortably fits its price range, but the Limousine variant, at a far heftier tag of Php2.698-million, is quite a reach. With that value, you can buy the GLS A/T variant and have some to spare for a base model Tucson, thereby owning two vehicles instead of one.