Long road to luxury
THE first time I drove a Hyundai, it didn’t go well.
It was Canberra in the 1980s, an original Excel, on a slightly damp road near Parliament House.
As I reached one of the city’s giant roundabouts I turned the wheel to the left — and nothing happened. The tyres were awful, the chassis was ordinary and I can still remember instrument lighting that left giant dark patches on the dials.
Not to mention the effect on my heart rate as I scrabbled to prevent a disaster. How things have changed. This week I’m back in Canberra, on the very same road, driving a $60,000 luxury Hyundai. It’s the all-new Genesis and it’s a major breakthrough for the brand, which has struggled for traction outside the bargain basement.
When I worked for Hyundai, in the early 1990s, people were reluctant to move up to a Lantra. The Sonata — an ugly,
Editor boxy beast — was almost a nonstarter in Australia. But things have changed mightily. The i30 hatch and ix35 SUV have erased bad memories.
The Genesis is a massive move forward from the chintzy Grandeur and underdone Terracan SUV, once touted as the brand’s Australian flagships.
The Genesis gets great reviews overseas, the early forecasts on Australian resale values are good and it’s easy to see the appeal of a car that is the size of a Mercedes E-Class, with similar equipment, for less than one-third of the price.
Still, I can’t totally ignore the lessons of the past and I’m well Deputy Editor Motoring Reporters
Advertising, aware of how long it has taken Lexus — which launched in 1989 with the landmark and super-impressive LS400 — to make any real impact with Australia’s luxury car buyers.
The Genesis experiment is not going to produce a final result any time soon.
National Motoring Editor