I’ve been meaning to mention this lately. It seems that suddenly, and inexplicably, Hyundai and Kia became… cool.
My pals at Auto123.com wrote a piece on Hyundai and Kia becoming “a victim of their own success“, so I felt inspired to jump on their coattails and get this post out.
I know, I know. The Koreans are not exactly known for their automotive excellence. The first time I ever got an email from a customer saying “I’m considering the Infiniti M37x, the BMW 5-series and a Hyundai Sonata,” I had to read it twice.
I said to my buddy, Joe, in the cubicle next to me, “You gotta hear this.”
“What?” he asked back through the wall.
“This guy wants an M, a 5-series or a Hyundai Sonata! What a turd.”
“No, no,” he replied. “Hyundai’s making nice cars now.”
What? I thought to myself again. Am I in the Twilight Zone?
I just shook it off. I couldn’t bother myself to try and understand. I know I’m going to set myself up to look like a real jerk in this post, but I’m ok with that. Hopefully I can bring it full circle for you.
This is what I think of when I think of Hyundai:
See? That’s not hot.
And this is what I think of when I think of Kia:
Wait, is that the same car?
I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. They’re both awful. I’d walk before I had to drive either one of those hub-capped heaps.
Towards the end of the 00′s, both brands decided to straighten their ties, brush off their sleeves and zip up their flies. This is what they gave the world:
Huh. Interesting. Not stunning, but certainly not awful, either.
Hey, Kia, I think you may be on to something here.
And then it happened. Both of them knocked it out of the ball park. They both started making, dare I say it, good looking cars.
You want to know something? I actually really like the styling of the 2011 Kia Optima.
And the Hyundai Sonata? Not so shabby, either.
The thing about these cars is that they aren’t just offering economy anymore; they are offering technology, style, comfort, quality all at a super low price. Both of these cars can be purchased in the mid $20,000′s.
Hyundai and Kia have started to offer what luxury manufacturers have been offering all along, with one minor exception: just about anyone with a driver’s license can get into a new Hyundai or Kia.
That doesn’t mean I’m shakin’ in my Infiniti boots or anything. But it does mean I have a new-found respect and admiration to both of these manufacturers for bringing the world something affordable and not purposefully dorkifying it just to be cruel (please refer to photo #1).
“See me in this 1992 Elantra? Yeah. I’m poor. And lame.” That’s what that car says. Even if it’s not true.
“I found these Prada hidden platform, peep-toe crocodile pumps? Yeah, I got them on clearance from Saks at half the price. Just because I could.” That’s what the 2011 Kia Optima says.
The other effect that Hyundai’s and Kia’s new success has is to put us luxury-brand folk back up on the edges of our seats. Some brands (I won’t name names) have gotten a little lazy in the past. I believe that Lexus and Infiniti both surprised those who shall not be named, um Mercedes-Benz, with some cool and innovative new technology.
So now what do Kia and Hyundai have to teach us at Infiniti that we can then perfect and scare Mercedes with?
I don’t remember if Sonata guy bought an Infiniti, a BMW or the Hyundai or not.
But from now on, I’m cheering you on, Kia and Hyundai. Keep up the good work.If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!