In concept and execution, Hyundai's Trajet is one of the best value-for-money full-sized MPVs available
Koreans are on the right route At $123,900 with COE, the smart and versatile Trajet undercuts the Mitsubishi Chariot, Mazda MPV or Honda Odyssey by a significant margin

TRAJET - French for route or journey - sounds a fanciful name for a Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV).

However, the distributor for Hyundai here has been at pains to remind Singaporeans that Trajet is pronounced "tra-jay", to minimise any confusion with the word "tragic".

That would really be unfortunate because there is really nothing tragic about the Trajet. In concept and execution, it is quite simply one of the best value-for-money full-sized MPVs available.

Launched here last week, it looks anything but Korean, which should be unsurprising since the initial design concept was done by the Hyundai Design Studio in Mainz-Kastel in Germany.

The lines are simple but effective with a curvaceous snout and semi-bonnet style front. A bright chromed grill flanked by clear dual projector headlights gives the Trajet more presence.

This neat and elegant design theme continues to the side and rear. The hoodline continues upward in an almost straight unbroken line to the steeply-raked A-pillar, creating an aerodynamic profile.

A large rear window and bright lenses for the reversing lamps give the rump a cheery demeanour. The tail-gate opens down to bumper height, thus making loading and unloading easier.

With all seats up, there is enough luggage space for two suitcases or a golf bag plus trolley. The third row seats are bench-type, with a 60:40 split for added convenience.

Passengers in the front two rows have Captain seats with foldable armrests.

Second-row chairs swivel to enable occupants to face backward, converting this MPV into an instant boardroom or venue for an intimate tete-a-tete.

Seats in the second and third rows have a tabletop capability with slots for drinks. To increase luggage space, it is possible to remove them entirely.

As befits an MPV, the cabin is extremely roomy, the good fit and trim confirming Hyundai's steady progress in the quality stakes.

There are lots of storage areas, chief of which are a pair of glove-boxes and a useful sunglass-holder in the roof lining. The latter should really be a standard fitting for all cars.

The Trajet feels extremely strong, with impressive rigidity. Side-impact bars in the doors and ABS brakes are standard.

Cost-cutting measures include deletion of air-bags, a pity since they would help minimise the chances of severe injury or death in a major crash.

Engine options are the mainstay 2-litre DOHC four-cylinder and a 2.7-litre V6.

The 140 bhp 2-litre is smooth and refined, revving up freely to its 6,000 rpm limit. Its engine note is decidedly sporty but refined above 5,000 rpm, with no vibration periods right up to its 6,000 rpm redline.

At 1,750 kg, the Trajet is no featherweight. Strong low-end torque makes this MPV faster than its 0 - 100 kmh time of 14.7 seconds would suggest.

For extra performance and refinement, opt for the V6, which will arrive later this month.

The ride is soft and comfy for town but somewhat under-damped. I would prefer stiffer suspension settings.

Fast corners provoke a fair amount of body roll, but the Trajet handles reasonably well with no obvious vices. Steering feel is positive with surprisingly quick turn-in response.

Smart, versatile and refined, the new Hyundai Trajet is definitely worth considering by the buyer wanting a seven-seater MPV.

At just $123,900 with COE, it undercuts comfortably the similar-sized Mitsubishi Chariot, Mazda MPV or Honda Odyssey by a significant margin.

Its closest price competitor is the Toyota Picnic. Although having the edge in quality and equipment levels, the 1.6-litre Picnic is quite a bit smaller and not a true seven-seater.

SPECS

Hyundai Trajet 2.0

Price: $123,900 with COE

Engine: 1,997 cc DOHC 16 valve four-cylinder

Transmission: Four-speed auto, front-wheel drive

Maximum Power: 140 bhp at 6,000 rpm

Maximum torque: 186 Nm at 4,500 rpm

Top speed: 172 kmh

0 - 100 kmh: 14.7 seconds

For enquiries: Call Komoco Auto on 475-8888