1 Aug 1998
The third generation Sonata was a complete departure from its smooth predecessor, with a mish-mash of curvy and edgy American-inspired design, flanked by bug-eyed headlight and tail-light treatments.
Happily, it all gelled together better underneath with improved engines, a stronger platform, better suspension and steering properties, higher safety levels and advances in ride and refinement qualities.
The interior also came in for a rethink and benefited from more intelligent use of space and design.
But the big news was Hyundai’s gutsy new in-house 127kW 2.5L V6, while performance was improved in the heavily modified 103kW 2.0L four-cylinder engine.
A five-speed manual became optional on the V6s, while all four-speed autos received driver-adaptive computer control.
As before, the range initially consisted of GLE 2.0 and GLS and Levant V6s, but slow sales led Hyundai to offer an entry level Executive V6 in March 2000.
It was priced identically to the short-lived GLE 2.0 the V6 usurped.
Meanwhile, value-added Classique limited editions arrived in June ’99 and March ’01, but the public baulked at the Sonata’s heavy-handed styling.
A complete revamp called EF2 arrived in late 2001.