- The Lotus Group helped Hyundai's engineers understand what U.S. buyers want in terms of steering, handling and ride dynamics.
- The goal was to create an improved driving feel and quieter cars.
- The Lotus touch was applied to the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Genesis and Sonata, along with the upcoming 2016 Hyundai Tucson and Elantra.
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — The Lotus Group, known for its expertise in racing, helped to fine-tune the handling and steering dynamics of the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan, lessons that have been applied to the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata and the upcoming 2016 Hyundai Tucson and Elantra.
"American owners criticized the suspension, steering, the absence of road feel, things like that" in Hyundai's cars, Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski told Edmunds. "The company's focus over the last three years was to improve that."
The new strategy is a significant change for Hyundai.
The tuning of the ride, steering and handling for U.S.-bound cars is conducted at the automaker's research-and-development facilities in South Korea. The cars are tested at the company's test track in South Korea and on the roads in that country.
"You are not going to get the same driving experience as on U.S. roads," Zuchowski said. "Our engineers and development guys driving around Korea are not going to get the same feel for the car."
Some of the road surfaces in the United States are different than those in South Korea.
To improve the vehicle dynamics for U.S. buyers, Hyundai hired the Lotus Group to advise Hyundai's engineers in Korea, with Lotus acting somewhat like a tutor. The well-respected, United Kingdom-based firm is known for its auto-racing heritage and its expertise in suspensions, steering, handling and other automotive dynamics.
"We brought in the Lotus Group" when the Genesis was being redesigned, he said during an interview at a Hyundai press event in Alabama. "We didn't bring them in because we didn't know how to do it. We wanted them to tell our engineers in engineering language what American customers are looking for. It really helped our engineers understand what we were looking for."
The first vehicle to be targeted was the redesigned 2015 Hyundai Genesis, which went on sale this spring. What was learned during Genesis development was applied to the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata. The redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson will go on sale in the first half of 2015, followed later that year by the redesigned 2016 Elantra.
"All of those vehicles will have elevated chassis dynamics, a completely different feel, very, very quiet, very rigid," Zuchowski said. "It is now part of our DNA, and it was not before."
Edmunds says: Lotus' expertise could result in more car shoppers joining the Hyundai family.