Hyundai i45 2.0 GLS Review
Stellar Performance

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
30 Apr 2010

With the i45, Hyundai makes a fresh new start to compete with the likes of the ubiquitous Camry.

Name change

Those of a certain vintage will remember a large Hyundai saloon in the 1980s called the Stellar. The Stellar was the first large saloon model from the Korean manufacturer and can be considered to be the spiritual ancestor of the Sonata.

The Stellar lacked much engineering underneath - the engines were from Mitsubishi while the rear drive platform was from an ancient Ford Cortina. The styling didn't do it favours as well - Hyundai's designers probably used right angle set squares to pen the boxy Stellar - it has that typical three-box profile that a kindergarten child would scribble if asked to draw a family car.

The Sonata eventually superseded the Stellar in the late 1980s. Through its five generations, the Sonata was never remembered for the way it looked even though the gen four model had that Mercedes ‘peanut shaped' headlamps and the Jaguar-esque tail lamps. Worse still, the last generation model will be more remembered as the ubiquitous blue or yellow taxicabs here (that irritate other drivers more often than not).

Hyundai, then had a problem when it wanted to launch a new large saloon model - stick to the Sonata name and most will associate it with the taxi models so enter the i45 nameplate. The i45 is Hyundai's new large saloon model that supersedes the Sonata. This isn't the first time that Hyundai has gone all fickle minded about the names of its models but this time it's for good reason. The new car will still be called the Sonata elsewhere other than in Singapore and Australia.

The i45 looks nothing like its mundane looking Sonata predecessor and is the total opposite to its Stellar spiritual ancestor when it comes to design themes - instead of straight lines and right angles, the i45 is full of curves and bulbous overtures. Hyundai calls its new styling language ‘fluidic sculpture'.

The i45 certainly looks distinctive but the myriad of lines and surfaces somehow makes its overall styling look messy and cluttered. The wraparound head and tail lamps have an over exaggerated feel to them as well. The overall roofline has a hint of the Volkswagen Passat CC and Mercedes CLS to give the i45 an even more curvaceous look as well as good aerodynamic efficiency (drag coefficient of 0.29).


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