1 Mar 1989
The medium-sized, front-wheel drive, four-cylinder Sonata arrived here in March 1989.
It was only the second South Korean car sold here, competing against the similar-sized Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Magna.
The spacious five-seater sedan came in GL (with power steering and cloth trim), mid-range GLE (with power windows, central locking, folding rear seat and better audio), and luxury GLS variants, the latter often equipped with climate control air-conditioning, cruise control and alloy wheels.
From early ’90 there was a choice of two Mitsubishi-designed engines and transmissions: the 86kW 2.4L four-cylinder unit was joined by a 108kW 3.0L V6. Both were available with a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.
Hyundai pitched the bigger engine against the Falcon and Commodore competition.
A rare GLS ZR sports version was released in ’90, followed by a slightly revised range in ’91.
All had power steering as standard. Despite its dull design and driving dynamics, many buyers responded to the Sonata’s value and space attributes, especially as a recession was beginning to bite.