Talk Box

We check out the alpha version of Stargazer at its unveiling in Indonesia

A RECENT TRIP to Indonesia courtesy of Hyundai Motor Philippines (HMPH) continued to confirm two things on this side of the planet: Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and ASEAN customers remain crazy over — in addition to SUVs, of course — those multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) that promise bang (i.e., passenger and cargo real estate) for the buck. Small wonder then that Indonesia gets a lot of MPV action by way of OEM plants churning out unit after unit. Not a few in our group wondered out loud if our country could ever realize business in this regard.

Because, frankly speaking, Filipinos also love to move in groups. But the calculus isn’t really that simple. Economies of scale and feasibility must surely come in to play. Not only must a local market adequately crave for the product, the cost of doing business must be manageable as well.

With a population nearing 300 million, Indonesia snapped up more than a million new vehicles last year. And not only do its factories sate domestic demand; the country is said to account for more than half of the world’s compact MPV production.

Hyundai is among the brands doing serious manufacturing business in the country. In fact, two of the models sold by the company in the Philippines come directly from its sprawling 77.7-hectare facility in West Java which boasts a 150,000-unit-a-year output. These two nameplates are the Creta subcompact crossover, and the Stargazer MPV — the latter waging war in yes, a very competitive segment.

One of the items on the agenda during our trip to our ASEAN neighbor was to attend the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) 2023 at the ICE BSD City in Tangerang, Banten. The highlight of Hyundai’s presentation at its large corner of the pavilion was the unveiling of the Stargazer X, which undoubtedly takes its place as the highest version of the nameplate.

The “X” suffix denotes “crossover” values imbued to the MPV. If you’re still not familiar with the concept, remember fusion cuisine which became very popular not too long ago? Well, the crossover similarly blurs lines in hopes of, well, appealing to a broader spectrum of palates seeking the best values of once very distinct vehicle categories.

Far from being a purely utilitarian point-A-to-point-B tool, the Stargazer X builds on the vaunted values of the nameplate. PT Hyundai Motors Indonesia President Director WooJune Cha described the vehicle as one “that can answer and meet society’s need and demand for a vehicle with a spacious and luxurious interior that provides comfort for dynamic driving performance and (is) equipped with superior features and high-tech specifications.”

The Stargazer X gets black cladding on the outside (which, among other things, serves to make it appear a little higher off the ground) along with some minor stylistic tweaks on the bumper and grille. Inside, the light gray bezel around the floating-style instrument cluster and infortainment display has been ditched in favor of a piano black surround — which I think works to make it look more elegant and unobtrusive. The screen has also been redesigned in this regard.

Significantly, the Stargazer X is available either as a conventional seven-seater or with a couple of freely adjustable captain seats. Wrapped with fabric or synthetic leather, the Stargazer X gets red stitching accents, and a backseat table for second-row occupants. Hyundai is also leveling up on its entertainment system — fitting the Stargazer X with eight Bose speakers. Further sweetening the pot are wireless charging, and a sundry of safety features.

Obviously, we are justified in anticipating the arrival of this alpha model of the Stargazer. HMPH has the answer. “Customers can look forward to seeing the Stargazer X in the Philippines by the fourth quarter of this year,” said the company in a statement. Expect the brand to be plenty busy before 2023 is done and dusted. “We will also be offering additional variants (for) some of our current vehicles. Lastly, a new model that will further fortify HMPH’s range of MPVs will be introduced by then.”

There’s no reason for us to get that FOMO (fear of missing out), either. HMPH appears ready and willing to grow its model lineup. “Filipinos can be rest assured that we constantly study market trends, growth and profitability. Which means if there is an opportunity to expand our lineup then we will maximize it,” the firm concluded.

Neil Banzuelo

Check Also

High inflation, rate hike pause, economic slowdowns sway markets in Q2

ADAM SMIGIELSKI-UNSPLASH By Mariedel Irish U. Catilogo, Researcher SOFTER global economic …