We feel prescient. Back in April 2002, we took note of Hyundai's surging popularity and felt it demanded closer examination-say, something along the lines of a Four Seasons test.
More recently, our hunch has been borne out. In August, Hyundai announced its second-quarter '03 profits were up a whopping 86 percent over the previous year. Hyundai seems to be making money despite a Korean recession and a U.S. environment of insidious incentives and economic ennui.
Take the success of the Santa Fe, for example. The small SUV, aimed specifically at the North American market, had buyers on waiting lists in its first year (2001) and set an all-time Hyundai record with 11,293 units sold in just one month (March 2003).
But we didn't know all this in April 2002. Back then, the Santa Fe was one of a trio of Hyundais we considered inviting to the Four Seasons dance. Whichever one we selected would be literally the first long-term test car Hyundai had ever loaned to a publication. Hyundai PR scrambled to figure out details of insurance, delivery, and the loan agreement. They felt, one said, "kinda like the girl who's never been asked to the prom before."
The redesigned Tiburon, a sexy, sporty coupe, seemed an obvious match for us, but, as senior editor Joe Lorio said, "we thought it would live in the shadow of our recently arrived Four Seasons ... Read full article