Read this in the digital edition of The Manila Times. HYUNDAI takes the Southeast Asian market, including the Philippines, more seriously than ever before. Since the Korean automaker took over Hyundai Motor Philippines, it has been more aggressive not only in its branding efforts, but to the point of offering models that meet the region's needs and are priced. As an example, here is the first 2023 Hyundai Stargazer GLS Premium we have. Appearance is a purely subjective matter, so it's up to you to decide if Stargazer's robotic look is right for you. In my opinion, Stargazer hits all the right notes to stand out. The single curved roofline running from the hood to the rear gives this multi-purpose vehicle a bit of a high-speed train vibe. Dominating its face is an LED light bar with daytime running lights on the outer edges. This is then paired with a large mesh grille flanked by individual LED headlight clusters. Combined with its sleek lines and large H-shaped LED taillights, this Hyundai's futuristic exterior easily catches the eye. Thanks to the Stargazer's high-speed train-like shape, there's plenty of space in all three rows. Even when viewed from behind, Stargazer has a style all its own. The same futuristic vibe is carried into the interior, with shapes and colors that give it a Star Trek feel once again. However, visually the application is a bit complicated. The large, gray bezel surrounding the digital instruments and 8-inch infotainment system stands out somewhat like a sore thumb on a black instrument cluster. On the other hand, the infotainment system is one of my favourites, thanks to its responsive interface and large icons that are easy to touch on the go. Along with wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also offered. Thanks to the Stargazer's high-speed train-like shape, there's plenty of room in all three rows - of course, the rearmost seats are for smaller adults. The wide line resulting from the pillars being pushed all the way to the end allowed Hyundai to create lots of small spaces, such as the AC vents and the hidden storage space between the dashboard shelves. Hyundai has even managed to add a single rear seat desk, but hopefully they'll add one of the left rear passenger seats in the next update. Other amenities at the rear include USB ports and cup holders mounted on the doors as opposed to the center armrest. news delivered for The Manila Times' daily s By with an email address, I confirm that I have read and accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. One of the best powertrains Under the hood of Stargazer, there is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine producing 113 horsepower and 144 Nm of torque. These figures are pretty much on par for the entry-level MPV segment. While the engine itself produces good numbers in the real world, it's actually one of the best drivetrains in the segment. Big credit goes to the transmission it uses - a continuously variable transmission . Hyundai Motor Group's CVT does not minimize the "rubber band effect" where revs are constant as you accelerate. Here, it mimics the gear changes of a conventional automatic. It also gives the engine a lot of flexibility, allowing the engine to sing in the optimum rev range, even with seven people. The Hyundai Stargazer also manages to be the most fuel-efficient entry-level MPV I've tested. Even in heavy Manila traffic, reaching 11.5 kml is an incredible achievement. My average for the week is 12.3-12.5 kml, which is the best fuel economy figure in the real world alone in its segment. Entry-level MPVs have to make a lot of compromises due to the need to meet a low price point, but Hyundai engineers alone have managed to create an MPV with best-in-class refinement. The build is rock solid with minimal vibration and body shake for the segment, while road and wind noise suppression is the best in the segment. While the rear torsion beam suspension is stiff enough to accommodate seven people, it's still the best in its segment in terms of ride. Unsurprisingly, with the Stargazer's soft suspension, this is another MPV that doesn't encourage you to drive fast. Steering is somewhat sensitive in corners, but road feel is almost nonexistent. That's not a bad thing, though, because what you're getting is an MPV with best-in-class levels of refinement and comfort - the most important features for buyers in this segment. Moreover, the 2023 Hyundai Stargazer GLS Premium we have here also features the most comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems in its segment, including automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind spot warning and anti-collision rear cross traffic warning. lane centering and a feature that prevents you from opening the doors when there is an oncoming vehicle or cyclist. Hyundai is trendy late to the entry-level MPV, but the Stargazer is proof that you don't have to be the first to make the leap. Yep, Stargazer is the newest kid in the neighborhood and doesn't lead the class when it comes to having top spec sheet numbers. However, in the real world, it's what I think of as the class criterion - that's what matters after all.