Hyundai has come a long way to get to where it is today. Any petrolhead who’d declared loudly a decade ago that the Korean carmakers would be a hit in the future would have been scorned. Fast forward 10 years later, and what was once ridiculed by many as a cheap Korean import is now one of the hottest brands in global car markets. So, when the Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS was voted the SA Car of the Year 2012 in Jo’burg on Wednesday 14 March, the group’s MD in SA, Alan Ross, must have thought it was long overdue.
The first time the local market took notice was 2010 when the Hyundai i20 was one of the Car of the Year finalists. And those who had doubts about the brand were blown away the next year when two fine-looking cars from the Hyundai-Kia stable – Sonata and Sportage – made the cut to as 2011 finalists. While the Kia Sportage holds its own in the crossover segment, the Hyundai Sonata is one of the best alternatives to the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
After receiving the Car of the Year award on Wednesday, Ross said Hyundai SA was “extremely proud of the recognition that a world-class product such as the Elantra has received". It was also the first time that a Korean car has won the award in the country.
“This award, and the fact that we had two finalists in the previous competition, is confirmation of the giant strides Hyundai has made locally and globally. It is also recognition of the quality and emotional appeal Hyundai products have developed as part of the brand’s ‘Modern Premium’ strategy.”
The Elantra has already scooped the North American and Canadian Car of the Year awards this year. The compact sedan is packed with a few standard features that you won’t find with some of its rivals, while the design mimics that of its more luxurious, bigger sibling – the Sonata. The award vindicates what many motoring experts have said about the Elantra – that it’s good value for money.