The Toyota premium MPV dominates the sector, but Hyundai wants a piece of the action.
Since the year a private refurbished automobile importer delivered the Vellfire and its twin, the Alphard, to Malaysia, demand has never dwindled or even been damaged (save during the pandemic lockdown), since Malaysians from all walks of life want a unit in their garage.
This was the luxury MPV to possess, and even families with only one child want one. It was a status symbol automobile, and it still maintains the same prestige value today. The Toyota Vellfire, now in its third generation and with more chrome on its nose than ever before, is the best-selling refurbished vehicle for any dealer, but margins are razor thin.
UMW Toyota recognized the popularity and introduced brand new Vellfire and Alphard units with full warranty and after sales support in August 2016. Yes, the Toyota Alphard Price 2.4G sold for RM 338k, whereas the Vellfire sold for RM 345k.
Then, in February 2020, UMW Toyota released the updated Alphard model for RM 465k and the Vellfire for RM 383k. Today, despite its high asking price, it sells well because purchasers receive a comprehensive warranty and after-sales service, resulting in a hassle-free driving experience.
Meanwhile, until recently, there has been no significant product competition to the Vellfire. Yes, Nissan attempted with the Nissan ElGrand at RM 384k a few years back, while Mercedes-Benz debuted the Vito Tourer at RM 342k last year.
When Hyundai Motor chose to join this category with their futuristic-looking premium MPV, the STARIA, it took everyone by surprise. Yes, the STARIA will be available in October 2021 at RM 358,888, competing with the Toyota Vellfire.
The STARIA was only available in one form, a 7-seat luxury model that was totally imported and had a superior interior fit and finish. Unlike the Vellfire, the STARIA is powered by a 2.2L CRDi turbocharged diesel engine that produces 177 PS and 431 Nm of torque. It has front wheel drive and has an 8-speed automatic transmission.
In Malaysia, no matter how opulent a competitor can be in comparison to the Toyota Vellfire, it is difficult to entice purchasers away from the well-known luxury family MPV. This is why, despite a lot of excellent comments from persons who have test driven it and sat in its comfortable and extremely big rear space, the STARIA is still not visible on our roads. Yes, the STARIA is bigger than the Vellfire, measuring 5,253 mm in length, 1,997 mm in width, and 3,273 mm in wheelbase.
Badge branding and image are vital in this category, and only Malaysians who want something really distinct and unusual will invest in the STARIA, while the remainder will continue to purchase Vellfires without blinking.