Ever the fan of underdogs, DTW reminds readers that in 1998 Hyundai was not the Hyundai we know today. It made cars like the Sonata. And you know what? This article does not end the way you’d expect.
The Sonata wasn’t that bad at all though. Autocar liked it and I do too, in a way. How can you possibly justify that, I hear you ask? In the end I don’t but read on.
Autocropley wrote in July 1998 that the Hyundai Sonata was “a big improvement in its predecessor, the Stellar, but faces stiff competition in the budget executive sector from Skoda and Daewoo. Smoother V6 and better steering would help.”
More than anything this car reminds me of a time when I had really fixed ideas about what a proper car looked like and should be like. In 1998 that was probably a BMW 5-series or maybe a Volvo. The unusual style of the front bumper-stroke grille unsettled me. Today I like its eccentric shape. I won’t call it a master class or monument to good taste. It’s only that like David Bowie, “my little soul has grown” and I have space for a car like this now.
What did the Sonata offer? For £19,000 the Hyundai customer got an all-new V6 with a displacement of 2.5 litres. That is the legendary 160 bhp, Delta 24V aluminium motor.
For comparison I went to a 1998 price list and found a 2.3 litre Volvo 940 cost £16,580. I was going to say what fabulous value the Hyundai is but I can’t see any reason why a person not interested in style or driving would pay more for the Hyundai. Did you know that a Volvo 940 cost only £16,580 in 1998? That simple fact blows my whole article off-course.
Other cars costing that much money were: 2.0 litre 16v Opel Vectra estate, a 1.8 litre 16v Opel Astra CDX, a 1.8 Toyota Avensis GLS, a 2.2 Toyota Picnic TD GL, a 2.9 Ssang Yong Musso S, a 2.0i Saab 9.3 two-door, a Rover 416 Si five or four door, a 2.0 16v Renault Megane coupe, a 2.0 Nissan Primera SRi…. that is a long and not exhaustive list. Were this not the dog days of summer I’d have gone all the way from N to A to find the other seven or more cars costing £4,000 less than the 1998 Hyundai Sonata V6.
This fact is not mentioned by Autocropley who said the Sonata had to beat the Skoda Octavia, the Daewoo Leganza and the Ford Mondeo. Only the Mondeo had a V6 and still cost £2000 less than the Sonata. Yes, I know, the Sonata had loads of extra features and was bigger. Still, £2000 is a lot of money to pay for a few extra centimetres and air-conditioning. More to the point, Autocar don’t mention that for £4,000 less you can get a 2-3 litre Volvo saloon.
Irrelevant become these statements culled from the ‘Crop: “four-speed auto”; “more space, more safety”; “less noise, vibration and harshness”; “double-wishbone front and multi-link rear” (did you know that? That sounds good); “electronic traction control”; “spacious”; “impressively quiet place to be”.
The real story here is that in 1998 Volvo priced the Volvo 940 as low as a medium-sized hatchback or a three door Saab 9-3. £4,000 less than the Sonata V6, and only £2,000 more than the 2.0 Sonata GLS.