car news Fun

Spotted: a second-generation Hyundai Sonata

November 3, 2023

The spotted specimen

Last October 21, the NAMAC fair, a large fair for buying, selling or trading miniature cars, took place in Houten again. There are always plenty of interesting cars in the parking lot, too. For example, this 1993 Hyundai Sonata 2.0i GLS. With that year of construction, it’s quite a late one from this second model generation. This one looks very clean. Notable: with license plate holder of the Mitsubishi Owners Club. That at least confirms that he is in the hands of an enthusiast.

The layman might walk right by the car, but here really is a pretty exclusive car. As we mentioned in the intro, the Hyundai Sonata was never really a sales hit in our country, and certainly the early examples were often not considered worth saving either. Only 21 examples of this model generation have survived in the Netherlands, of which this is even the only one from this last year. Consequently, we can’t even remember the penultimate time we encountered one. It’s been that long.

The first Hyundai Sonata

The first Hyundai Sonata entered the market in 1985 and was an extra luxury version of the Hyundai Stellar. The Stellar was already delivered in Europe (incl. the Netherlands); the more luxurious Sonata was primarily intended for the Korean home market and was still delivered outside of that country on a limited basis.

By 1988, it was already time for the second model generation Hyundai Sonata. With the addition of several less luxurious trim levels, the Sonata replaced the Stellar, making it available virtually worldwide for the first time. North America was also among the markets and would soon become one of the most important.

Hyundai Sonata by Giugiaro

The first Hyundai Sonata had a distinctly Asian design, with a touch of American style. The second model generation had to appeal to potential customers worldwide, and that was reflected in the design. The car had a mix of European and Asian stylistic features. Responsible for the design was none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign, both not unknown names in the field of car design. A facelift followed in 1991, with the front and rear largely redrawn. Thus there was again a car that was completely up to date.

Introduction to Europe

In the summer of 1989, the Hyundai Sonata made its debut in Europe. At the time, it was the third new model from the still young brand. The Hyundai Sonata competed against cars such as the Ford Scorpio, but had the price of a Ford Sierra. In other words, you got a lot for little. In addition to the Korean brands, Skoda, for example, has also become big on this.

Hyundai Sonata with Mitsubishi technology

For engineering, Hyundai partnered with Mitsubishi. Under the skin, the second-generation Hyundai Sonata is largely identical to fifth-generation Mitsubishi Galant (1983-1989). The engines also came from Mitsubishi, but Hyundai did build them itself, under license. Offerings included a 1.8-, 2.0- and 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, supplemented by a 3.0-liter V6. Power ranged from 70 kW (95 hp) to 107 kW (146 hp). Depending on engine and trim level, a five-speed manual transmission was standard, with a four-speed automatic as an option.

Later Sonatas

In 1993, the third model generation of the Hyundai Sonata was ready. It sold a bit better in our country, but certainly the model before the facelift has almost faded from the collective memory… Although sales in Europe never really took off and the model at one point even disappeared from Europe altogether, the Sonata has become one of the most important model lines for the brand internationally. Via gray imports, one of the later models still occasionally turns up on Dutch soil, and the latest model may well make a comeback from us.