Once upon a time, there was a cheap little car called the Hyundai Pony, and it was absolute sh– [Careful. – Ed.] …enanigans. Shenanigans. Ahem.

The Sonata feels quick as anything.

To be fair, the Pony was not actually all that terrible, merely disposable. Perhaps the worst thing about it was that any time a modern Hyundai is reviewed, the Pony must be trotted out for clichéd exclamations like, “Look how far they’ve come!” Well, no more.

Having recently returned from Korea, I can tell you that Hyundai is as far removed from the Pony as Commander Chris Hadfield is from a ladle of primordial ooze. The company is a powerhouse, up to its elbows in everything from fuel-cell technology to a standalone luxury marque. The Genesis G70 will come with a manual transmission. The i30 N hot hatch (likely to appear as an N version of the Elantra GT here) just spanked the VW GTI in various European outlets. Hyundai’s even up to speed on the autonomous driving front, with a LIDAR-equipped Nexo capable of navigating a multi-lane roundabout entirely by itself.

Anyway, here’s the Sonata, which will not be measured against a 1980s car manufactured from hairspray and leftover disco LPs, but against its contemporaries.

As a facelifted version of a slightly aging design, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata is relatively fresh, but nearing its best-before date. I expect you have a refrigerator drawer full of vegetables that are in much the same condition. The dark-chrome trim isn’t too overstated, though I could do without the line along the front hood. Further, Hyundai’s stuck a manufacturer plate to the back of this tester, which gets them out of having to put a front plate on it. Front plates combine with the current mania for huge grilles like a wedge of lettuce combines with the gap between your front teeth.

Overall though: not bad, though less pretty than the Elantra. Less impressive was the tendency for the left-side chrome exhaust treatment to pick up a sooty residue.

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