2021 Hyundai Staria 3.5 V6 Sunroof - Starship and the Poise
Singapore - It is well-understood that SUVs have almost become the go-to car for every purpose and occasion. They seem to check every available box, from doing the offroad thing (like in this Defender), being the utility vehicle to carry your sporting goods (or a sporty-good Jay Tee, like in this Countryman), tearing up tarmac like a track weapon could (like in this GLA), and also as people carriers (like in this Palisade).
But the last bit… about SUVs doubling as people carriers. Well, the extra ride height, and tiny rear door aperture would pose a problem for those who have a middle-age gut, entering the third row. As car companies take the opportunity to woo buyers with SUVs of all shapes, sizes and capabilities, MPVs still prove themselves to be the best thing out there for transporting anything more than five.
But MPVs are boring!
I mean, there is no other way to say it, but it is always going to be the family bus, and then some. However, on the outside, Hyundai has gone through great lengths to ensure that the Staria does not look like white goods. Hyundai’s design approach for their large MPV is one of grafting a spaceship’s front end to a large MPV body; and they’ve included tasteful brass accents on the grille, wing mirrors, headlight surrounds and even on the rims. It is simply, out of this world, or you could even say not from this world.
In pictures, the Staria is imposing, but don’t let that fool you. It is… actually even bigger than it looks here. It is 5253mm in length, and 1990mm tall, the latter would mean that you would have issues entering certain multi storey car parks, and at almost two metres wide, entering Java Lane, because you feel like doing so, would be quite impossible.
2021 Hyundai Staria 3.5 V6 Sunroof - inside
The only variant of the Staria sold here is their 7-seater, with a 2-2-3 configuration. Up in-front, you can tell that there is that characteristic Hyundai-ness, where every button on the dashboard can be operated with your big toe. The 8-inch infotainment touchscreen which “floats” in-front of the dashboard, is the same as what is on other Hyundai cars. There is a huge wireless charging port for your mobile phone, and like the Palisade, Hyundai has gone with a push-button style gear selector, which keeps the dashboard neat.
Remember that I mentioned that the car is bigger than it looks here? This is something which you can actually experience. Most things on the dashboard are just out of reach, and even as a front passenger, you do need to stretch just to access the glovebox. Even the decently-sized 10.25-inch instrument cluster looks tiny here.
It is clear that the 7-seater Staria gives priority to both the front and middle row passengers, as these seats are ventilated. The middle row lounge seats are superbly comfortable, and there is room for you to recline, and extend the leg rest. Elsewhere, the Staria can be optioned as an 11-seater, so space in the 7-seat version is plentiful, therefore you can ride “like a baws”.
Passengers in the third row will have to make do with a single bench. Thankfully, there is enough padding to the seats, meaning that long journeys are still quite pleasant, and legroom is abundant. You are, however, seated just behind the rear wheel, which means that whatever the Staria goes over gets amplified.
With the scatter of USB ports,12V sockets, hooks and storage compartments available, all you need is to plug in a cooler box and the Staria could be quite an ideal vehicle (for four) for a long road trip up North.
2021 Hyundai Staria 3.5 V6 Sunroof - driven
Like the Palisade, the Staria is powered by a three-and-a-half litre V6, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. We are looking at 272hp and 331Nm which is delivered in a creamy naturally aspirated smoothness, through the front wheels. The Staria feels unhurried when taking off, though there is sufficient grunt to get the 2.2-tonne MPV to 100km/h in 8.9 seconds.
As I ease my right foot further down the footwell, that muted V6 purr turns into a still muted but pleasant growl. The powertrain could be best described as adequate here, and might struggle uphill under a very full load. Interestingly, unlike the Palisade SUV, which chirps its front wheels with every firm prod of the throttle at the lights, or while driving up steep inclines; the Staria, on the other hand seems to put drive to the road more easily, with significantly less wheel slip.
Once on the go, it becomes clear that the large MPV is not built to handle speed and curves with the same confidence as the slightly smaller and (much) lower KIA Carnival. Also, the KIA is sold with a turbocharged diesel, which brings more torque to the table, and at a lower rpm too (but at the cost of smoothness and refinement). But sportiness is a distant word for the KIA, but an even more distant one here with the Hyundai.
While I say this, I cannot deny that I am enjoying the linear delivery of the engine, and so have Jay and David, who are now happily lulled to sleep in those lovely ventilated lounge seats. So while I struggle to find a tall enough dark basement carpark to abandon them, I find that the Staria, while you have to be selective of car parks here, it is still quite an easy car to reverse, once you have found a parking lot, to wriggle into. Additionally, the side cameras help make lane changes safer, as a live feed is transmitted onto your instrument panel, with a flick of the indicator stalk. There is also the Hyundai SmartSense suite of safety things to help monitor your surroundings, and also provide you with Stop & Go capable adaptive Smart Cruise Control.
As a large people mover, the Hyundai Staria has some serious competition, but if you are looking for something where you can truly stretch your legs and even your arms in, it is only rivalled by the Toyota Alphard, which while is more costly, has a more fuel efficient hybrid engine.
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals, Clifford Chow
2021 Hyundai Staria 3.5 V6 Sunroof
Engine 3479cc, V6
Transmission 8spd automatic
Top Speed 210km/h
Fuel Consumption 11.1l/100km (combined)