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Hyundai Sonata GL 2005 review

Going back a few decades, the reaction was pretty much the same to the then new Japanese fare – "Jap crap" as it was known.

It's a mindless, ill considered and rather costly response that is likely to see cars like Hyundai's new Sonata overlooked.

Which begs the question, just what does it take to make the grade?

Sonata is easily the best thing to come out of Korea since Hyundai started selling cars here in 1986.

This the fifth generation Sonata is a quantum leap forward from the previous, competent but otherwise unexciting model.

It's not perfect, mind you, but it's damn good.

Our gatekeeper, George, a Beemer and family man, gives the car a score of 9.5 out of 10 in the looks department.

By George he's right.

Sonata is one slick looking piece of automotive machinery, reminiscent of Honda's Accord from the rear and not unlike the Euro or Commodore from the front.

The V6, subject of our test, even gets a set of twin pipes.

With Sonata, Hyundai has managed to lift the bar again, not just one notch but two or three.

There's still room for improvement.

It needs the services of a young, hip stylist to transform the interior into something a bit funkier, but the ground work is well and truly in place.

The 3.3-litre V6 maximum is good for an impressive 173kW at 6000rpm and maximum torque of 304Nm at 3500rpm.

Ask Hyundai and they'll tell you that's 32kW more than Camry, 18kW more than Magna and just 2kW shy of a Commodore.

Let's just say it's got plenty of get up and go, especially hooked up to the brand new five- speed sequential auto.

The equipment list is impressive, especially considering the $29,990 price tag.

Six airbags are standard as are traction and electronic stability control.

Build quality is first rate, ride is quiet and refined and there is a full size spare under the good-sized boot.

Sonata seats five with adequate rear legroom, but for adults four would be a better fit.

The velour trimmed seats themselves are flat and lifeless, and could do with some more contouring.

Aussie Sonatas are fitted with firmer European spec suspension, with better German gas dampers and matched, firmer-rated coil springs, thicker stabiliser bars and firmer bushes front and rear.

We felt the handling in our base GL model was compromised by the tyre and steel wheel package, which generates too much tyre noise and contributes to sloppy handling when pushed hard.

GL gets 215/60 Hankooks while the Elite receives larger 17 inch 225/50 Dunlop SP Sports. 16 or 17 inch alloys like those on the Elite are dealer fit option.

Hyundai claims fuel economy figures for the V6 of 10.1L/100km, but we felt it was a little thirsty, returning 14.6L/100km.


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

(base) 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,290 – 3,490 2005 Hyundai Sonata 2005 (base) Pricing and Specs
Elite 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP SEQ AUTO $3,900 – 5,995 2005 Hyundai Sonata 2005 Elite Pricing and Specs
GL 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP $1,990 – 3,950 2005 Hyundai Sonata 2005 GL Pricing and Specs