March 12, 2015 @ 05:59 PM

Station wagon battle for supremacy

What if you are a family man but still are young at heart. Welcome to the new age of gentleman cruisers.


What if you are a family man but still are young at heart. Welcome to the new age of gentleman cruisers.
Words: Arvind Kumar

Baseball player Chili Davis once said, “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.”  And I have also been told that ‘the car is the guy’s best calling card’.
So for most guys, growing older and the eventual prospects of a wife, children and the optional pet would sooner or later dictate that the treasured Honda CRZ, Toyota MR2 or Audi A5 will have to make way for more sensible, safe and mundane carry-them-all options like an MPV or a lumbering SUV.

But what if you still love looking at an elegant piece of sheet metal? What if you still enjoy the odd-glance from the fairer-sex pulled up next to you at a stop-light? What if you still love the driving dynamics of sedan, wanted adequate space for shopping and the optional Golden Retriever, without the additional costs and parking woes of an MPV or SUV?

Well that solution has existed for years and here are the best three for sub-Toyota Previa money. Introducing the Hyundai I40 Tourer, Peugeot 508 SW GT and the Mazda 6 Grand Touring.
Back to the looks and the occasional glances, and you’ll find all three cars gathered here are rather elegant. Although all of them also exist in sedan form, extending the roof line and rear glasshouse has had little effect on their stance and proportions. In the case of the Peugeot, perhaps even better for it.

The Hyundai I40’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ program flaunts curvaceous proportions from its slinky daylight running lights integrated within the headlamps help create a sense of motion which extends to the front arches and the A-pillar. A pinched beltline also graces the side which accentuates the cars length and dynamic styling intent. It’s also the Hyundai which conveys a greater impression of size from the back with its stretched tail lamps and large tail gate.

The ‘Kodo’ design language found on the Mazda does not detract much from its saloon counterpart as it still provides a low slung silhouette and neatly sloped roofline complimented by some gorgeous 19-inch alloys. The front and rears of the Mazda are also graced with sleek head- and tail lamps which help produce the cars squat and ready-to-leap stance.  

But in my opinion, it’s the Pug that offers the most visual drama, while the 508 may look sedate, even staid by some measure. The 508 SW’s stretched dimensions in comparison, also complimented by 19-inch rollers and an elegant glasshouse creates a sense of elegance and occasion if you’d have to pull up to the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental. It’s the one that looks the most expensive. That’s because it is.

Coming in at RM204,302 means quite a bit more than the Mazda’s RM188,648 price tag and nearly RM15k higher than the Hyundai’s RM179,897 sticker price. All of them are fully imported and they’re not cheap, but which strikes the perfect balance between value and substance.

So if you are a family man cum petrolhead who once flaunted a two-door Bimmer, these cars would require some measure of performance to blow your whistle. Coming in at third would be the Hyundai’s 2.0-litre 175bhp powerplant and 214Nm which peaks at 4,700rpm. Hyundai’s Nu engines are zesty bunch and the I40’s is no different, eager to rev and it resonates a nice engine note too.

Complimented by a conventional six-speed auto, the Hyundai’s gearshifts are smooth and swift enough for a spirited drive. Upshifts are neatly dispatched, while under braking the shifter is perceptive enough to get in to a lower ratio before powering out of the corner.

Mazda’s six-speed SKYACTIV unit is the clear winner of the three in terms of refinement, delivering sublime up- and downshifts. It’s the power source however, that seems to let the Mazda down. On paper, Mazda’s 2.5-litre direct injected four-pot produces 185bhp at 5,700rpm while 250Nm of torque is at your disposal from 3,250rpm.

This is claimed to be good for a century sprint time of 8.2 seconds. Drive it however and it never quite feels so rapid. Although the Hyundai’s torque curve peaks higher in the rev range, it delivers a meatier push down-low where the Mazda just seems slightly out of puff. However, the company’s fuel consumption goals were definitely realised as the Mazda’s fuel gauge seemed almost pegged to the ‘F’ position.

But there’s no arguing with the pace of the 508. The claimed 0-100kph time of 8.4s almost seems too long once the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel powerplant gets on song and the gearbox starts to play-ball. With 204bhp and a massive 450Nm from a meagre 2,000rpm, I have yet to experience a better pinned-to-the-seatback-shove from anything else within this price range. Sharpen up the throttle map and gearbox response by selecting ‘Sports’ mode and hold on.

The gearbox however, is the weak link in the Peugeot. While the cars upshifts are slick and beautifully executed, pile into a corner on the brakes and you’ll feel a considerable shunt when the shifter hunts downwards through the gears. I find this trait also apparent with the other four-speeders within the Peugeot stable; this unit is only marginally better.

Almost predictably, it is the Mazda’s that had the best steering. Sublime weightage is complimented by progressive output. Through a very tight and twisty road which snakes and curves for ages, it was the Mazda that required the least amount of effort. It even provides clearer feedback from its EPS unit comparing to the electro-hydraulic unit from the Pug. The Hyundai provides some middle ground of the three with progressive weightage but a lack of feedback filtering through from the front threads.

But, which car is the best to have your family in? This was the toughest question to answer, and you’d have to take into account the suspension setup and tyre choices into account, denominated by the general comfort and NVH levels within the cabin.

In this aspect, by the smallest of margins, the Hyundai takes top honours. Save for some wind noise from the sunroof, the I40’s comfort orientated Continental tyres fitted on smaller 17-inch rims versus the 19s on the other two prodigiously soak up bumps, remains quiet at a gallop and offers adequate road holding. The 10-way power adjustable seats themselves are supportive and great place to be in.

The Peugeot slightly misses the mark, while the seats themselves are supportive; its size is rather big to accommodate a smaller framed person. So there will be cases where a passengers head isn’t resting on the headrests properly and the side bolsters are too far apart to offer adequate support. Elsewhere the ride can be harsh as the tyres have thin sidewalls and road kinks emit great amounts of impact noise and vibration through to the steering wheel.

The Mazda still offers a superb ride, although the car sports 19-inch shoes, the Bridgestone tyres provide an added measure impact dampening and great traction. The seats themselves are supportive and NVH levels are very good – there’s very little wind, engine or impact noise to speak off.

But remember, these cars also have to be practical and easy to live with. The Peugeot has the most amount of trunk space with 660-litres followed by the 553-litres in the Hyundai and 522-litres for the Mazda. The Hyundai and Pug also up the ante with powered tailgate. Once the split-foldable seats are laid down, it’s the Peugeot again which leads the space race with 1,865litres of storage capacity.

Once inside, it’s the Peugeot and Hyundai which have the most toys. In the Peugeot, there are four stages to which you can retract the mammoth panoramic roof sunshade, the Hyundai on the other hand flaunts a slightly smaller panoramic roof but adds a slide and tilt sunroof. The Mazda contends with just a sunroof.  

Arguably, it’s the Hyundai that will keep the younger ones happier, in addition to a great view out of the roof, there are two entertainment screens tacked to the front headrests in addition to the six-speaker sound system which will do just fine over a long journey.

In the Mazda and Peugeot however, you will enjoy some of the best sound quality for any car within this price range. The Mazda is equipped with a mind boggling 11-speaker BOSE sound system while the Peugeot utilises a 10-speaker JBL setup. It’s tough to decide which is better, but the last time I enjoyed an in-car sonic-boom like these two cars, I was seated in a near RM400k Audi A6.

Also important to note is all three cars have achieved a full five stars for the Euro-NCAP safety program courtesy of stability control programs, ABS, EBD and host of high pressure balloons popping out in a crash. There’s six airbags in the Mazda and Peugeot respectively, a whopping nine in the Hyundai.

So which is best? Well, while the Mazda might be a technical powerhouse of ingenuity, looks and driving prowess, it falls short in terms of space and value. The best all-rounder is definitely the Hyundai as it gives you space, fuel economy, a capable drivetrain and even at this level, still the best value for every Ringgit spent. But remember, this test is to decide the best car for the petrolhead turned family man.

And that car is the Peugeot. While it hurts the bank account the most, it also provides the most amount of space, presence and the biggest grin on your face when that gem of a powerplant starts to sing its higher notes. If I was the family man, this is the car I would trade the MR2 in for.


Peugeot 508 SW GT
Price

RM204,302
Engine
2179cc 16v 4 cyl,direct injected turbodiesel, 204bhp @ 3500rpm, 450Nm @ 2000rpm
Transmission
Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive.
Performance
8.4s 0-100kph, 235kph, 5.9l/100km, 154g/km CO2
Suspension
Double wishbone front, multi arm with helical spring and multi valve dampers rear
Dimensions
4792/1853/1487mm
Weight
N/A kg
Rating
4/5

Hyundai I40 Tourer
Price

RM179,897 (Sport)
Engine
1999cc 16v 4 cyl, direct injected, 176bhp @ 6500rpm, 213Nm @ 4700rpm
Transmission
Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Performance
N/A 0-100kph, N/A kph, N/A l/100km
Suspension
MacPherson struts front, multi-link rear.
Dimensions
4770/1815/1470mm
Weight
N/A kg
Rating
4/5

Mazda 6 Touring
Price

RM188,648
Engine
2488cc 16v 4 cyl, direct injected, 185bhp @ 5700rpm, 250Nm @ 3250rpm
Transmission
Six-speed dual-clutch auto
Performance
N/A 0-100kph, N/A kph, N/A l/100km
Suspension
MacPherson struts front, multi-link rear.
Dimensions
4800/1840/1480mm
Weight
1506kg
Rating
3.5/5

Connect to Car Magazine : Malaysian Edition! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


Editor's Choice

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Loading...