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Never Say Never…

August 1, 2007

Today, I want to talk for a bit about Hyundai.

Five years ago, I wouldn’t have given everyone’s favorite Korean automaker a second glance. If this or that Hyundai crapfest of a vehicle managed to score a review in one of the auto mags, I’d skip past. After all, Hyundai made penalty cars, shoddy tin cans you bought because you couldn’t afford anything else.

Along the way, though, something happened. Their cars started sucking less and less. Some of them actually became, dare I say it, competitive. I think the Santa Fe may have been the first to stand on anything like equal footing with the competition.

Fast forward to 2007.  Yes, Hyundai still makes a penalty car or two (Accent, anyone?), but, by and large, they’ve managed to claw their way to respectability. Just take a look at the Sonata or the redesigned Santa Fe.  Or the new Veracruz, which I would put against the Mazda CX-9 or GMC Acadia any day of the week.

This turnaround, this sudden lurch into respectability, has really grabbed my attention. In fact, I can even foresee a day, perhaps not so far in the future, when I will actually consider owning a Hyundai.

A big part of that is due to the Genesis, Hyundai’s forthcoming rear-wheel-drive sedan that is being benchmarked against no less than the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class.

Bigger still is a new, rear-wheel-drive coupe, which was recently confirmed as heading toward production:

If Hyundai can put a coupe on the road that looks anything like this rendering from Winding Road (or like last year’s Veloster concept), I think it will radically shift just about everyone’s attitudes.  It will sure shift mine.

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