>Back in October, I posted my thoughts about Hyundai becoming the next Honda, or more importantly the Honda of the 90s. Back then, Honda had several exciting cars in their lineup that showcased cutting edge technologies like four-wheel steering, VTEC, and aluminum unibody. Today, the excitement can be felt in Hyundai’s entire range of cars. There’s the sporty rear-wheel drive Genesis coupe, the mega-mile consuming Genesis luxury sedan, and the jack-of-all trades Sonata. While the two Genesis cars cater to a very distinctive audience, the Sonata is the car that everyone can enjoy for its good looks, perfect size, adrenaline pumping turbo power, and frugality at the pump.
The Sonata took top honors for a litany of reasons. Its design language sets a new direction for a Korean car manufacturer that gets attention on the street instead of just trying to be a Japanese clone that neither offends nor entices with stale sheet metal. The swooping body work resembles those premium (read: more expensive) four door coupes from the Germans that are all the rage but is executed in a much less flamboyant manner.
The engine options also take the road less traveled. Instead of offering a V6 in their top trim model, the Sonata comes exclusively with 4-cylinder propulsion systems. There’s a conventional motor, as well as turbocharged and battery supplemented versions. Both petrol powered motors provide class leading power while sacrificing nothing to their rivals, not to mention that the turbo-4 provides superior driving dynamics due to its lower weight than a heavy V6. For the green hypermilers, the hybrid model provides better gas mileage than the Camry hybrid and is cheaper at the showroom too. Power mongers, green weenies, and penny pinchers can all be happy with these options.
The mid-size sedan segment is the highest volume car segment in America and it is hard to make any inroads. The Accord and Camry are constantly vying for the most sales. The Ford Fusion is set to break 200,000 sales this year, something that Ford hasn’t accomplished since the Focus sedan, after having a major redesign. The Sonata has accomplished that same feat for Hyundai for the first time in its company’s history. During a time when people buy Camrys and Accords due to brand loyalty and not knowing any better, it’s refreshing to see that a newcomer has joined the ranks with something totally new and eyeopening. I hope these sales figures show that a company doesn’t need to follow the status quo to achieve success.