Saving money never looked so good
Has it really been only six years since Hyundai Canada president Steve Kelleher told assembled automotive media that the company aimed to be one of the top three within five years?
To our credit, nobody among us snickered, although I can't swear there was no smirking, so intently was I studying the carpet. The plan, he said, was to get rid of all the bean-counters and put the engineers, the designers–the folks who actually know what goes into making a car "good"–in charge.
Certainly, if anyone had told me back then that I'd spend a week driving a Hyundai Elantra and actually be impressed by it… I'd have a hard time holding back the laughter.
At the time, I belonged to a local motorsports club. The single Hyundai fan in the group, the long-suffering owner of a 2003 Elantra, was the source of much ribbing – not only for his rather unorthodox style on the autocross course (which, due to the inordinate amount of frame-flex, involved lifting one rear wheel high off the ground while cornering, much like a dog at a hydrant) but for its voracious consumption of transmission and suspension parts.
Some may think those transgressions should be overlooked, given the strenuous circumstances of most motorsports events. But the majority of us competed in $500, 20-year old beaters and invariably drove them home afterward with no ill effect. That particular Elantra still had a couple of years left owing in car payments. It was a rather odious little car that rather nicely represented what I (and many others) considered a typical Hyundai to be.
But then something happened.
Hyundai introduced the new Sonata, and the automotive media sat back on its collective haunches in astonishment, pronouncing it "good". Still reeling from the shock, we were probably still in the later stages of denial when the Genesis came along. By this time, we had to admit that something was going on with this upstart company from Korea.
Hyundai had, in fact, started living up to its promises the way we only wish our politicians would.
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