Hyundai’s consumer research has found all-wheel-drive is a key factor in the buying decision for Genesis and Santa Fe XL shoppers, hence its focus on providing systems that accommodate that priority. The company now offers two distinct types of all-wheel-drive systems, and to demonstrate the capabilities of both, a winter driving event was arranged in the scenic Baie-Saint-Paul region, northeast of Quebec City. The vehicles used for this demonstration were Hyundai’s 2015 Genesis premium sedan, which is fitted with an all-new HTRAC active all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment, and its mid-size 2015 Santa Fe XL utility vehicle, which features an advanced active AWD system on all trim levels except the base front-wheel-drive model.
The Genesis is offered with either a Lambda direct-injected 3.8-litre V-6 engine (311 horsepower; 293 lb-ft of torque) or a direct-injected Tau 5.0-litre V-8 (420 horsepower; 383 lb-ft of torque), both delivering their output to the HTRAC system through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The extended-wheelbase Santa Fe XL is only offered with a 3.3-litre Lambda II V-6 that delivers 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque to its FF Type system through a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Genesis’ HTRAC system has been designed specifically for sedan applications with longitudinal-mounted engines and rear-wheel drive. This advanced full-time all-wheel-drive system delivers the performance and control one expects in a sporty, premium-level vehicle by putting the drive bias to the rear wheels. While there is no side-to-side torque splitting – the stability control uses braking to keep those issues in check – it does electronically split the engine’s output between the front and rear axles as required by road and driving conditions.
For example, when set in Sport mode, the system counteracts understeer and oversteer issues by sending power to the front or back as required. On brisk acceleration, it adjusts the torque distribution to provide improved traction and adapts to deliver more agility in aggressive handling manoeuvres. During normal highway cruising, up to 100% of the engine’s output is channelled to the rear wheels, maintaining the preferred rear-wheel-drive feel. However, when conditions deteriorate, such as the snow and ice encountered during this event, the system shifts up to 90% of the torque to the front axle to help maintain stability and traction. If the Normal setting is selected, HTRAC defaults to a 40/60 torque split, resulting in feeling of comfortable confidence and control for the driver. This setting also improves the car’s efficiency, reducing fuel consumption by about one percent.
The new HTRAC system, which Hyundai describes as one of the most sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems in the world, is an electro-mechanical system developed in conjunction with Magna Powertrain, which provided the software. The goal was to make a system that enhanced agility and stability when cornering, delivered improved traction on slippery surfaces and eliminated the noise and vibration associated with other AWD systems. The system also had to be lighter to avoid impacting fuel consumption – this compact gear-driven transfer case weighs just 61 kilograms. The system uses input from the steering, suspension and powertrain to enhance stability and efficiency. Its active torque control integrates with Hyundai’s Active Cornering Control (ACC), an element within the stability management system, that helps manage acceleration through corners by applying braking force to the inside rear wheel while accelerating through a corner, thereby enabling the car to rotate.
Hyundai organizers had been hoping for some snowy surfaces for their event – and they got more than they wanted. An intense blizzard buried the mountain-top ski venue where two parking lots had been prepared for exercises that would demonstrate the AWD capabilities of the vehicles. Instead, the circuits were buried knee deep in the white stuff. The conditions, however, did provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate the vehicles – and the Genesis didn’t disappoint. The HTRAC system is designed to switch automatically into a 50/50 slip control mode regardless of the selected setting (Sport or Normal), so when the car was put through the course which included a slick ice surface beneath the snow cover, it maintained traction and control in an impressive manner.
Owners of utility vehicles such as the long-wheelbase Santa Fe XL, with its three rows of seating, put more emphasis on utility and traction than Genesis owners, who prefer enhanced dynamic capabilities. Its AWD system is designed for transverse-mounted engine applications with a bias toward front-wheel-drive. It’s also a sophisticated active system that automatically activates as conditions demand, shifting torque to the front and rear axles as required.
In normal driving, power is only sent to the front wheels, but when slippage is detected, it can shift up to 50% of the torque output to the rear wheels, which helps reduce fuel consumption. Based on input from the steering, braking and powertrain, a control unit continuously analyzes data and actuates the system through a multi-plate wet clutch. The coupling is controlled through an electro-hydraulic actuation system. Like the Genesis, the Santa Fe’s torque distribution system is integrated with Hyundai’s active cornering control to help manage acceleration while cornering.
The Santa Fe took the blizzard conditions at the test site in stride. The exercise included a slalom course, braking, acceleration and a ice-covered skid pad – all buried under a knee-deep layer of snow that continued to accumulate throughout the session. Still, it made for extremely challenging conditions – exactly what was needed to demonstrate the vehicle’s AWD capabilities. While several drivers ended up off course (if one could even determine where the line was supposed to be), not one Santa Fe required assistance to rejoin the action. The shift in torque distribution ensured decent acceleration, the ABS got a workout in the braking zones and doing snow-doughnuts on the ice patch was a blast.
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