The truth is that in order for a car manufacturer to thrive they have to sell vehicles. Sometimes this fact makes me a little cynical as a journalist, I’ve found myself wondering if some of the folks I meet along the journey are really as wonderful as they seem or if they are putting it on as a part of the job. I honestly wouldn’t judge them if it was a show, we all have to put our best faces on at times and I would be remiss if someone questioned my own motives; especially if the accusation contained the sentiment that I was “too nice.”
The first time I met the folks from Hyundai I wondered that very thing. How could these folks really be this kind? I assumed some kind of façade was present, sure, it was refreshing to meet people who were thoughtful and caring, but what is the motivation? Within a few hours, I started to realize that this group of folks really is that great, enough so that I now call many of them friend.
I have spent more than fourteen days with the Hyundai team in the past year and I can honestly say that the time has equated to a couple of amazing weeks. Yes, they care about the products and the 2015 Hyundai products that I have reviewed are excellent, but they care even more about the customers, the people who will invest in and drive these machines. More importantly, they drive Hyundai products themselves, and not necessarily the expensive high-end vehicles, and they have children that own them, even race them on weekends.
The day before the North American debut of the 2015 Hyundai Azera at the Miami International Auto Show the Automotive Addicts team was able to sit down with James Trainor, Senior Group Ganager of Product Public Relations and Michael Deitz, Senior Group Manager of Connected Car Owner Program for a spirited discussion of all things automotive over some of South Beaches best fried chicken and waffles at the Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. Trainor and Deitz both work at the Hyundai Motor America headquarters in Costa Mesa, California and had traveled to Miami for the launch, which served as the perfect location considering that Florida sales of the Azera are the second highest of any state in the country.
The extensively refreshed 2015 Azera exterior sports a restyled grille and front bumper fascia complimented by quite striking LED fog lights on the Limited model. The rear also received the full treatment with a new bumper fascia. The redesigned standard 18-inch wheels complete the look, further enhancing the luxury sedan’s appearance.
The interior redesign includes a new eight-inch color LCD navigation display, the crown jewel of the Azera’s all-new center stack design. Illuminated door sills and a easy-to-use-even-if-you-aren’t-a-ballerina hands-free Smart Trunk opener, similar to the one that I experienced on the all-new Genesis Sedan, now come as standard equipment as well, adding to the Azera’s premium feel.
Enhanced safety features now include standard Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic alert and Lane Change Assist and the next generation Blue Link system, which includes the Vehicle Safeguards Alerts In-Vehicle App. As a parent of a soon to be fifteen year old who is already researching online driver’s education courses, I found the app particularly enticing. Parents can keep a watchful eye on teen drivers by monitoring the Azera’s speed, hours of operation and movements through a series of pre-programmed criteria that trigger text messages and/or e-mails to a cell phone or computer. Easily modified from inside the vehicle, the alerts can be programmed to keep your phone working so hard you need to leave it plugged in while your daughter travels to the mall or less frequently, but still providing you with the big news like speeding or when you’re kid decides to sneak out at 2am to visit friends.
The 293 horsepower 3.3L V6 is carried over from the 2014 model. The smallest displacement V6 in its class, the Lamba II engine replaces size with smarts; implementing a high-pressure direct injection system that equates to the best-in-class specific output of 88.8 horsepower per liter and a total of 255 lb-ft of torque.
I really like the approach that Hyundai has taken with the all-new 2015 vehicles. Representing incredible value and initial quality, backed by a transferable warranty that lasts for a decade, the manufacturer has created a line up that I am comfortable recommending to friends and family.