Renault Samsung challenges Hyundai’s dominance with fully revamped premium sedan
NAMHAE, South Gyeongsang Province ― Tagging Hyundai Motor’s Grandeur as the sole leader of the mid-sized sedan market is about to get presumptuous with new premium sedans from Renault Samsung and GM Korea.
Throughout the years, the Grandeur has dominated the segment and outsold Renault Samsung’s SM7 and GM’s Alpheon.
Now the French carmaker is looking to shore up its position in this lucrative segment with the fully revamped SM7 to hit the market in a month.
The midlife makeover of the 2004 SM7 model was tested. The revamped SM7 model, which will be released on the market from August, has a completely new exterior and interior design. The upgraded model looks sure to secure a bigger slice of the luxury sedan market increasingly tapped by professionals in their 30s and 40s.
The New SM7 (Renault Samsung)
On the road
The pleasant surprise with the revamped SM7 was its impressive road manners.
It may be based on the underpinnings of the SM5, but there is a more agile and easy-moving feel thanks to the firmer suspension. The nimble responsiveness did not however ripple through the cornering test and surface irregularities. The handling performance was second to none, even when turning nearly 90 degrees on a zigzag uphill at 80 km per hour, giving minimal kickbacks. The decent cornering grip felt safe especially at high-speed. On the sports-mode, the first driving option adopted as a mid-sized sedan in Korea, steering felt heavier but it delivered a stronger torque response.
The engine pulled impressively, making for effortless acceleration, but the main let-down was a mild torque steer at high acceleration.
There’s a European minimalism to the interior. The electrically adjustable driver seat provides great support, with heat option and massage function. The aviation head-rest has adjustable cushions on both sides.
The Nappa leather seat covers and spacious interior big enough for two sun-roofs contribute to the feeling of a more upmarket package. It is professional but conservative to the point of being a bit of a yawn.
The best part about the performance was its noise control. The new SM7 was quiet in engine startup and acceleration.
In the rear, seats were surprisingly roomy thanks to the 70 mm legroom expansion from the old SM7. Other aspects of the rear are familiar: shared armchair, sun roof, retractable sun-shades and plenty of storage space.
There is a built-in perfume diffuser and air-ionizer, which frankly were over-the-top accessories that just took up space.
The interior of the New SM7 (Renault Samsung)
Price and equipment
The New SM7 will be priced between 30 million won ($28,359) and 39 million won, which is slightly above the range of the old SM7 SE Pleasure, 28.8 million won to 27.7 million won.
The VQ25 engine has 190 horsepower, up 15 percent from the old SM7. It is capable of producing 24.8 kg-m of peak-torque at 4,400 rpm. The VQ35 engine model has 258 horsepower, and 33.7 kg-m peak-torque at 4,400 rpm.
As for safety, it is loaded with eight airbags in its dual stage smart airbags ― a smart airbag system deployed in a fashion that results in less impact for minor shocks. It also has seat-belt pre-tensioner which expands or tightens in the event of an accident to protect passengers’ torsos.
By Cynthia J. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)