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Could Hyundai become the next Mazda? Why the brand with its Ioniq 5 and Santa Fe | Opinion – Autonieuws

I hate the design of the current Hyundai Tucson, it looks busy and has too many weird angles. I love the look of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, it has all the right angles and looks clean and interesting. I also hate the Ioniq 6 and its odd proportions, just as I love the smooth lines of the latest Sonata.

Or to put it another way: I am fascinated by Hyundai design.

It’s not newsworthy that the South Korean brand has come a long way since its humble beginnings, but now that it’s finally had the chance to get up close and drive the all-new Santa Fe, the impact that the bold design choices of have clearly visualized the brand. on his image.

Hyundai, as the kids say, is having a moment.

The brand has been brave to take risks with its design and some will hit and some will miss, as I outlined above. But to be clear, if you love the look of the new Tucson and Ioniq 6 and hate the Sonata and Santa Fe, I would completely understand that because design is subjective and that’s okay. Not everything in this increasingly divided world has to be black and white; we can all enjoy our own opinions and peacefully agree to disagree.

But it’s what these style choices say about the brand that really stands out for me. Hyundai is a company willing to take risks, both from a design perspective and a product perspective (as evidenced by its early and strong move to electric vehicles).

Hyundai took a risk by moving into performance cars, an area it had never played well in before, and now boasts an impressive range of hot hatches and a loyal audience of owners who flock to officially organized track days. That is a huge change for a brand that previously only became as sporty as the Tiburon.

Hyundai’s sales have fallen in recent years, causing the brand to lose third place in the sales chart and fall behind its sister brand Kia. But despite all the positive talk about regaining that position, I get the feeling that local management is not so concerned about the final position in the rankings, but is instead taking the Mazda perspective of maximizing profits on every car sold.

And how did Mazda achieve that? By moving itself into the ‘semi-premium’ space of the market, between mainstream affordability and luxury prices.

Mazda was the master of presenting its products in a way that was perceived as above average, without actually doing anything dramatically different. The Mazda3 was and is a very nice little car, but is it very different from a high-end Hyundai i30? Not really, but some subtle design and spec changes brought Mazda into this semi-premium perspective.

But more recently, as Mazda made a more overt attempt to be more premium, with the introduction of the all-new CX-60 and CX-90, these models received more disappointing critical responses.

This was something that became clear to me while driving the new Santa Fe. Mazda pushed the CX-60 and CX-90 as a more affordable alternative to a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but the presentation, especially the interior, isn’t dramatically different from the existing Mazda range. That’s not to say it’s bad, just not a step forward as the company apparently promised.

In stark contrast, the new Santa Fe feels like a quantum leap over the old model, with a fresh, more premium look and multiple leather and upholstery options, all while retaining the brand’s signature functionality .

True story: Someone asked me my opinion on a luxury SUV in the days following my Hyundai drive and I immediately suggested I look at the Santa Fe instead. That initially drew a wary eye, so I dragged a photo onto my phone and the Santa Fe was immediately added to his shortlist.

From a sales perspective, Hyundai still has a long way to go to overtake Mazda: the gap was almost 25,000 vehicles by 2023. But if Hyundai focuses on profitability and subtly moves the brand into that semi-premium segment alongside Mazda and Volkswagen, then I think cars like the new Santa Fe, Ioniq 5, Sonata and even the Tucson and Ioniq 6 have a chance to to take them there.

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