Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Hyundai Grandeur Grandeur and Grandeur Limited
Cats in the cradle
March 2006

MY old man occasionally makes mention of the old "Cats in the Cradle" song, originally penned by Harry Chapin.

The lyrics make a strong connection with any father, who does his best working hard to build a home for his kids, but by the time he actually stops long enough to enjoy time with them they are grown up and busy making their own way in the world.

And so it was that at my daughter`s third birthday last weekend that we found ourselves in a scene from what should be another couple of verses tacked onto the end of the song.

My parents, and my in-laws, were tucking into about their sixth bottle of vino, while myself and two brothers, usually known as the chief instigators of Saturday afternoon drinkfests, were watching on in complete sobriety as we had to drive our families home. Oh the humanity!

Within champagne cork popping distance was parked the new Hyundai Grandeur. Its recent release marks a celebration of 20 years for the marque in Australia.

The press kit photos show four sets of golf clubs in the boot. I can tell you, with a brother or sister due for the three-year-old in a few short weeks, the only rounds we`ll be playing is laps of the kitchen at 3am.

But the Grandeur fits perfectly into what these "oldies" are all about these days - few drinks, game of golf, enjoying the fruits of their labours and secretly enjoying watching us dig our own bloody fruit trees.

The latest offering from Hyundai is spectacular value: at $42,990, or with a $4000 premium added for the "Limited", you get a whopping amount of luxury and refinement.

The press kit says: "Grandeur exudes a fresh, crisp and confident new European-influenced look and dynamism". Spot on.

The interior of the Grandeur is first class. It has an ultra-modern feel to it but at the same time is sophisticated and charming.

And there`s oodles of room for your drunkard older generation and their sodding golf clubs (you decide which ones go in the boot). The rear seats fold, and the spare tyre is a full-size 17-inch alloy.

Nice touches like the etched stainless steel door sill plates, dark over light dash and door trim treatment, with sparing redwood trim inlays really make this car a standout.

There are two issues with the interior though, which really are the only two criticisms we found with the whole car.

The first is that there seem to be some inconsistencies with the gaps between pieces of trim (commonly called "fit quality"); the second is that there is a huge chunk of metallic-like shroud around the gear shifter which even my incredibly expensive Mako fishing sunglasses (that I never get time to wear fishing anymore) couldn`t cut the glare on.

The car drives wonderfully. It is remarkably nimble for such a large car, has quite good manners when pushed hard and the 194kW engine is super responsive.

It is about the size of a Holden Berlina, but with 10% more power and torque.

In fact, the engine will push the car from rest to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds - the most powerful Hyundai released in fact. It`s a shame to waste it on the older generation but anyway....

The styling of the car is far from what you would expect from Hyundai. It has quite a wide stance, deep sculpted lines and lovely 17", 10-spoke alloy wheels that really lift the overall on-road presence.

I`m going to make a really bold statement here. Just like every VW feels like a budget version of an Audi, the Grandeur feels like the budget version of a Jaguar.

Not that there`s much difference in standard inclusions.

All the normal things like power everything, remote central locking, climate control, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Traction Control are standard, as are ABS, EBD, eight airbags including rear side thorax bags and 17" alloys.

On top of Grandeur V6s full feature list, Grandeur Limited adds: a power tilt-slide sunroof; reactive solar glass; an electric rear window sunshade blind which retracts when reversing; heated front seats and door mirrors; electric operation of the steering wheel four-way adjustment; auto-on/off xenon headlights with washers and self-levelling rain-and-road speed-sensitive wipers; two-setting IMS (Integrated Memory System) for driver seat, door mirrors and steering wheel adjustment positions, and an automatic day/night interior rear-view mirror.

But wait, there`s more - remote folding-in/out of the door mirrors, anti-rattle flock lining and matting of all storage compartments and recesses, auto-dipping door mirrors when reversing and windscreen de-icer.

Both variants include a full 24/7 Roadside Assistance package for five years as well as Hyundais five-year / 130,000km new car warranty.

The stereo is amazing with its dashboard contour-integrated Infinity audio with MP3-capable six-disc in-dash CD/FM/AM augmented with a cassette player for all those boomers tragic tape collections, eight high-output Infinity speakers including a sub-woofer and external amplifier, steering wheel auxiliary controls and an antenna set into the rear glass.

Please don`t tell my old man I prefer the "Jazz" equaliser setting on the stereo.

As the party drew to a close for us "responsible" adults who had to take their children home, while the grandparents "kicked on", one of the oldies couldn`t resist: "Look at this, normally it`s the kids getting drunk and now it`s our turn".

At that very moment, I think the baton changed hands.

I`m going to rebel though. I`m off to listen to the car stereo in "rock" mode - and yes, it will be Cats In The Cradle - but it will be Ugly Kid Joe`s version from the early `90s.... I think I have it on tape here somewhere....



ENGINE: All-alloy 3.8 litre quad-cam, 24-valve HVVT V6 engine

POWER: 194kW at 6000rpm

TORQUE: 348Nm at 4500rpm

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed Selectronic automatic transmission with manual mode


ACCELERATION: 0-100km/h 7.2 seconds

FUEL ECONOMY: 10.8l/100km combined

PROS: This has to be one of the most stylish cars on the road; modern interior; plenty of room including boot;

CONS: Still some fit quality issues like inconsistent gaps in interior trim; reflection from metal-finish transmission console

PRICE: $42,990; Limited $46,990; metallic or mica exterior paint finish $350