Even in the cold winter, you want to drive your car and travel anywhere. In a warm car, even sub-zero temperatures feel like nothing. Besides, the refreshing breeze of the winter sea is enough to blow away the core of your mind. From the center of winter to Gangwon-do, we ran with the Sportage Hybrid.
Its design suggests a sense of power. It combines bold and challenging design elements with the dynamic sensitivity of nature. Especially the front is so intense, making it unforgettable. The technical pattern dubbed on the iconic tiger-nose grille, and the sleek daytime running light that divides the grille, and the headlamp clearly show how the automaker’s design has evolved.
The interior offers pleasant views thanks to the low dashboard - the sense of openness. In particular, the new Sportage looks more digital than any model in its class; A panoramic curved display that seamlessly connects the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster to the 12.3-inch infotainment system, the touch-type switch that can control both the infotainment system and the climate controller, and the dial-type electronic transmission consummate this atmosphere.
Now, this is the highway heading to Gangneung. When driving at 100 km/h in the Sportage Hybrid, the engine speed is around 1,800 rpm. But thanks to the hybrid drivetrain, the tachometer often reads zero. The Sportage Hybrid uses a SmartStream G1.6 turbo engine with a maximum output of 180 horsepower and an electric motor with an output of 44.2 kW (approximately 60 horsepower), with a system output of 230 horsepower.
In addition, the Sportage Hybrid freely combines the power of the engine and electric motor depending on the driving situation. When slowing down, for example, it often uses only the electric motor to drive quietly without using fuel. But of course, when going uphill or flooring the accelerator, the engine, and electric motor work together to get the most power out of it. When driving at a constant speed on the highway, depending on the remaining battery level, only the electric motor is used or the battery is charged while using the engine.
Driving softly with Highway Driving Assist (HDA) feels quite special. Every time the dashboard shows an‘EV’ sign that the vehicle is now driving only on the electric motor, it proves its worth. The smart hybrid system boosts energy efficiency by maintaining harmony between driving and charging depending on each situation. For example, when slowing down, the regenerative braking system recovers the energy generated during braking to recharge the battery.
The cabin was comfortable enough even at high speed. The ride quality of SUVs in the past was evaluated as lacking compared to sedans. This is because the higher the vehicle height, the higher the center of gravity and the greater the vibration. The ride quality of SUVs in the past used to be considered ‘not enough’, compared to that of sedans. This is because the higher the vehicle becomes, the higher the center of gravity; hence the greater vibration. However, advances in technology are overcoming these weaknesses of SUVs one by one. The 3rd-generation platform of the Sportage Hybrid with a ‘low-floor design’ is one example.
The highway takes you to your destination quickly, but sometimes it feels better to peacefully drive on rural roads. Just like Goethe said, ‘life is a matter of direction, not speed’, I got off the freeway and headed to Anbandegi village, 1,100m above sea level. ‘Anban’ refers to a wide log base used to hit the dough with a hammer, and ‘degi’ refers to flat ground. The basin-shaped wide area got its name because it looks like ‘Anban’.
Anbandegi is a village established by residents who have settled in since 1965, burning their pastures for farming. The cabbage fields on the top of the mountain hold the history of this place. The steep slope made farming impossible with machines, so the villagers started farming with only pickaxes and shovels. After hard work, the 2-million-square-meter steep, barren land became fertile. I was deeply moved by the efforts of the people who turned the rugged mountain slope into fertile land while harmonizing with nature.
Anbandegi is a popular destination for tourists thanks to its cool breeze, serene landscape, and the high mountains where you can see the night sky. But Anbandegi in winter looked a little lonely. Of course, even this loneliness must be a special feeling that only winter travels can offer. I breathed in the fresh breeze from the high mountains, imagining summer cabbages covering this area in green.
I got on the Sportage Hybrid again and crossed the mountain road in Gangwon-do. As I watched the road gradually getting steeper, I could feel that I was climbing a huge mountain. Along the way, I ran into many speed bumps. But the Sportage Hybrid hasn’t lost its stability - probably thanks to the E-Ride technology that Sportage Hybrid houses. E-Ride uses the hybrid system, making the vehicle a smooth-riding SUV.
Driving the Sportage Hybrid, I arrived at Heonhwa-ro, the coastal road closest to the sea in Korea. The name of Heonhwa-ro is taken from ‘The Song of Heonhwa’ in Samguk Yusa. According to the history of Shilla Dynasty, an old man sang this song while picking azalea from high up the cliff along the seashore when a governor’s wife demanded, while no one was daring.
Heonhwa-ro runs from Geumjin Beach in Gangneung to Jeongdongjin Port. You can enjoy the ocean view while driving towards Jeongdongjin. When the waves are high, they sometimes even hit the road. The fences were lowered to 70 cm-high during the renovation in 2008, making it much more comfortable to enjoy the ocean view from the passenger seat. There are small parking lots all over the side of the road, so you can stop and relax while looking at the sea.
When driving the Heonhwa-ro, I opened the windows and enjoyed the smell of the sea. There was no need to ventilate, but I wanted to embrace the ocean in front as much as possible. The cabin felt comfortable all day long; Sportage’s active air purification system monitors indoor air quality in real-time, displays fine dust levels in four levels, and turns on the air purifier according to the level. The air-cleaning mode works even when the windows are open. For example, when entering a tunnel with the window open, the system automatically closes the window and activates the air purifier.
The winter trip with the Sportage Hybrid ended at night. The Sportage Hybrid has been a reliable companion throughout the trip. It showed how versatile a car can be. It was quiet and fast, tough and efficient, dynamic and stable. The technology indeed combines contradictory features into one. Traveling with the Sportage Hybrid will give you peace on any road.
Photography by Jin-Ho Choi
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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