When Hyundai landed in Spain

Thirty years since Hyundai started its sales in Spain. With a modest network of twenty-five dealers spread across the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, and a range made up of four models: Pony, S-Coupe, Lantra and Sonata.

But let’s go in parts. The car branch of the powerful Korean group Hyundai, was born in 1967. At the 1974 Turin Motor Show, the public contemplates the first car of its own conception of the Korean brand, baptized as Pony. The firm had turned to former managers of the Austin Morris division of British Leyland, for the conception of it. And to Ital Design, that is Giugiaro, for its design. It had a mechanical Mitsubishi Lancer of 1283 cc: the Japanese group held, then, 15% of the capital of the Koreans.

Pony, the first step

The architecture of that Pony could not be more classic: a front engine that transmitted its force to a rigid rear axle. This car will arrive in Europe for the first time, specifically it is the Belgian market where it takes its first steps, already as a production model in 1979.

When it goes on sale in Spain, it is already a second generation and the “model year” (model/year) 1989, as the Anglo-Saxons like to say. It has evolved in all aspects. Now it is a front-wheel drive, but 1298 cc (65 hp) and 1468 cc (72 and 84 hp) engines of Mitsubishi origin are maintained, and for a weight that did not reach a thousand kilos. The bodywork (there were 3, 5 and 5 doors) was basically a Giugiaro pro design with changes made by the Koreans, and measured 4.10 meters in the 3 and 5 door versions. While the car was suitable for families, there was little room in the rear due to the short wheelbase. But it offered air conditioning on most trim levels, and stood out for its very tight price.

An accessible sports car

The second model was the S Coupé. Actually, it started from the base of the Pony and the flowing and harmonious lines of the bodywork did not go unnoticed at the time. Its size of 4.21 meters long, and the assisted steering, made it very manageable. The engine was the 1500, which moved the light car well and also spent little.

The S Coupé was simple but with a fun behavior


Lantra, a classic sedan

The Lantra had been presented for the first time in 1990. It was a very classic four-door sedan, 4.36 meters long, dressed in a bodywork also by Giugiaro. Conceived by Hyundai, it featured Mitsubishi engineering, including the Galant platform and 1,484 cc, 1,596 cc, and 1,795 cc engines, rated at 84, 114, and 125 hp, respectively.

Sonata, a higher level

The Sonata, with a length of 4.68 meters and 1,249 kilos, was a saloon in the upper middle class. Sonatas were built in Ulsan, Korea, and Bromont, Canada. Since its launch in 1988, it was destined in Europe to attack models such as the Opel Vectra, Renault 21, or the Peugeot 405.

The Sonata entered a medium category that entered to compete with models such as the Ford Mondeo


The mechanics (it was manufactured with 1.8, 2.0, 2.0 16-valve, 2.4 and 3.0 V6 engines) were also of Mitsubishi origin. The equipment was of a very high level, something that will become one of the hallmarks of the brand over the years, highlighting the standard ABS, something rare at the time in models of its level.


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