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Seoul Motor Show: A report card
Pablo Chaterji
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May 14, 2005

This year's Seoul Motor Show was a little different from those preceding it -- it was the first time that a full-strength show was on offer, with both domestic and foreign brands sharing the same exhibition space.

Most of the world's major automotive brands were there, with 33 manufacturers from 10 countries � including our very own Tata, with their Indica and Indigo range.

Naturally, most of the models on display were specific to the Korean market. Here's a selection of the most interesting and important models.

Hyundai HED-1

This is a step up from the E3 concept first shown at the 2004 Geneva show and is aimed squarely at the European B-segment MPV market.

Striking in appearance, with its triangular front and rear lights, the HED-1 seems to be the future as far as Hyundai design is concerned. Again featuring B-pillarless doors for maximum space utilisation, the concept also has a unique tail-gate sliding tray.

Hyundai's new Theta engines, ranging from 1600cc to 2400cc, can be slotted into the engine bay.

Renault-Samsung SM7

The new SM7 represents a neat fusion of three countries: France, Japan and Korea. Renault bought over Samsung in 1999, and the SM7 uses slightly upgraded versions of the Nissan VQ23 and VQ35 V6 engines.

The engines have been upgraded with improved twin continuously variable timing control and electronic throttle control.

Other features include a Steptronic 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and two-stage side and curtain airbags are standard. Oh, and Lee Kun-Hee, chairman of Samsung motors, has two Maybach 62s for daily commuting.

Kia JB Sport

A slap in the face of anyone who thinks the Koreans can't do hot hatches, the JB Sport seemed the most production-ready of Kia's concepts.

All the hot hatch prerequisites are present: in-your-face styling, skirts, huge scoops, low-profile rubber and bling 18" wheels. Likely to be powered by a turbo-charged 2000cc engine, the only downside is the five-speed automatic transmission. An auto in a hot hatch? Surely you jest.


Parent company Hyundai clearly intends to maintain separate brand identities, if the Kia stand was anything to go by.

With an emphasis on lifestyle and crossover vehicles, Kia showed off two large-sized concepts, the KCD-II and KCV-4.

The KCV-4 is a big pick-up based on an extended Sorento platform, but the more interesting KCD-II, with a 4600cc V8 engine, was the crowd-puller. With an imposing, aggressive front end and a butch profile, the KCD represents a new design direction for Kia.

GM-Daewoo Kalos

This good looking, practical hatchback is popular in Korea and you can expect to see it on our roads sometime next year. GM India see the Kalos as a viable proposition, but it will wear a Chevrolet badge when it finally arrives.

Available in Korea with 1150cc 71 bhp and 1498cc 86 bhp engines, the Kalos will be up against the Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Getz in India. Bring it on GM, the more the merrier!

Hyundai Portico

This is a distinctly Korean six-seater MPV-crossover, with a decidedly feminine appearance due to its sweeping lines and soft curves.

The pillarless design incorporates front-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear doors. It's powered by Hyundai's new Lambda 24-valve, DOHC, V6 engine, with a six-speed Shiftronic automatic 'box.

The concept is also designed to accept an AWD electric drive system and seems a good candidate to make it into production.

Ssangyong Rexton

This is the SUV that Mahindra & Mahindra were testing in India a while back. Notwithstanding the shelving of that plan, the Rexton is among the top-selling SUVs in Korea.

The new version features a 2696cc CRDi engine developing 176 bhp@4000 rpm and 35 kgm@2500-3000 rpm -- more than enough firepower for most.

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