The Hyundai Palisade is the most expensive car to have ever been sold by the South Korean manufacturer in our local market. The list price for both the seven-and eight-seater is identical at R999 990 but add enough fuel to get you to home base, registration fees, number plates and the like, and you will definitely be over the million mark.
Well, for a start it’s a lot bigger. The Hyundai Palisade is some 200 mm longer than the Santa Fe, 135 mm of which is provided to the wheelbase. That extension makes access to the third row of seats a whole lot easier and for those customers who regularly transport all members of their extended families, this is the model to go for in the Hyundai lexicon.
The Hyundai Palisade was initially designed for the North American market and is based on the successful Kia Telluride. This stateside orientation shows immediately in the Palisade’s chunky overall styling and the imposing dimensions of the Hyundai signature cascading grille design. That grille is the first thing you notice about the Palisade, followed by the boomerang-shaped light clusters, these being naturally of the modern LED variety.
An attraction from the side-on view is a set of very classy-looking 20-inch alloy wheels. South Africans who do long distances will also be pleased that there is a full-sized spare wheel, also with an alloy rim. All wheels have pressure sensors to give early warning of a slow-puncture situation.
That overall chunkiness to the styling theme is emphasised in the Palisade’s hind-quarters, beyond the rear wheel-arches, offering a feeling of solidity that is refreshing and reassuring. What’s more, this area of the vehicle is where that accessible third row of seats resides, as well as some 500 dm3 of luggage space, with the third row occupied by the kiddies. At a touch of the button, the third-row backrests fold flat, which you can activate from the luggage compartment with ease, and then as a five-seater (or a four-seater if you have opted for the second-row bucket seat configuration) there is some 1 277 dm3 of load area.
A one-touch button operation is also the method of access to the third row of seats; the second row of seats is thus easily tilted and slid forward.
As for the rest of the cabin, probably the first item that will strike many customers in the R1-million market is the fact that a dual-sunroof is a no-cost feature. And in line with Hyundai’s policy of offering “what-you-see-is-what-you-get for the list price”, so are the heated and ventilated seats, as well as standard fit electric-adjustment (with memory) for the front seats.
The upholstery is of a very smart-looking faux-leather fabric, which befits a car of this level. All the interior panels are beautifully fitted. There are extremely precise edge gaps where the panels line up, and this adds to your confidence in the car as a whole, and as we know from Hyundai’s reliability record, this confidence is not misplaced regards all engineering aspects of the vehicle.
Regards interior styling, I feel this is where the Palisade is slightly let down. The design of the instrumentation (speedo, rev-counter and the like) is a little previous-generation when compared to the latest offerings from the European manufacturers, and the same goes for the layout and fittings on the console, which has a somewhat “army-parade ground” feel to it. Lots of straight rows, but not too much in the way of imagination.
On the other hand, all the major functions you will be using regularly are easy to operate without scrolling too vigorously on the eight-inch infotainment screen, so it’s definitely a case of function ahead of style in this regard. Regarding modern hi-tech features, the Palisade offers items such as the “conversation” rear view mirror, which enables Mommy to keep an eye on what the kids are up to back there, from her perch on the front passenger seat. There is also seat-occupancy detection that provides an alert should junior decide to suddenly hop out of the car during manoeuvres in the mall parking lot!
As for driving the Palisade, well, it’s by-and-large a very easy and stress-free operation, despite its overall length that is just shy of five metres.
The engine used is a 2,2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder unit, which is slightly larger than the similar oil-burner used in the Santa Fe. The Palisade engine has a specialised variable oil pressure system that minimises internal friction by varying the oil pressure supplied according to engine-loads. Nevertheless, the Palisade engine’s output of 142 kW is some six kW less than that used in the Santa Fe, although maximum torque of both engines is rated at 440 N.m.
On start-up the engine is quiet, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox enables extremely smooth pullaways, befitting a R1-million buck motorcar. Steering feel is quite sharp for a bulky SUV, and body roll is minimal too, so piloting the Palisade is pleasurable.
On the open road, though, I felt such a considerable investment deserved a bit more in the way of overtaking power. You can definitely feel that, at 1 952 kg kerb weight, the Palisade weighs 142 kg more than the Santa Fe, and I would have liked extra grunt for overtaking. On balance, though, performance is quite impressive given the power-to-weight ratio, and the 0-100 km/h of 10,5 seconds is reasonable, as is the claimed top speed of 190 km/h.
Just before we leave the subject of the engine chosen for our market, I would love to experience one with a V6 engine, to give the car just a little more charisma. Unfortunately a V6 diesel isn’t available in the range, but in Australia you can order 3,8-litre V6 petrol version. Of course this one would be seriously heavy on fuel, whereas the SA-spec Hyundai Palisade with its 2,2-litre power-plant will easily return overall consumption figures in the 9,0 L/100 km range. Hyundai claims an overall figure 8,2 L/100 km, which you will probably achieve on longer trips encompassing steady 120 km/h cruising.
All in all then, a very impressive vehicle, but definitely not cheap at R999 990. But if you look at what it offers in terms of space, features that are all inclusive of the asking price, and an appearance that is definitely imposing, then yes, the Hyundai Palisade can claim to have a special place in our motoring terrain. Hyundai realise this is not going to be a volume seller, and estimate they will probably sell about 25 units each month.
By Stuart Johnson
Price: R999 990
Engine: 2,2-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Power: 142 kW
Torque: 440 Nm
0-100 km/h: 10,5 seconds
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Top speed: 190 km/h
Fuel consumption: 8,2 L/100 km
Service Plan: Seven years/105 000 km