Hyundai XG

Sonata used to be the flagship model in Hyundai’s international lineup. Now its premium position is substituted by a new model, XG. XG is very much larger than the Sonata. Its wheelbase of 2750mm nearly matches the super spacious Volvo S80 (2790mm) and surpasses Alfa 166’s 2700mm. Its 4865mm length even exceeds the Swedish car by 45mm and the Italian car by 145mm ! Obviously the overhangs are excessive by today’s standards. 

In fact, the basic chassis comes from Mitsubishi Sigma (Diamante), so does the 24-valve 3-litre V6 which pumps out a modest 192hp and 192lbft. Smooth and quiet the V6 may be, but powerful is not. Despite of variable induction manifold, the peak torque is still 15lbft less than BMW’s 2.8-litre straight six, and it appears no earlier. With 1600kg to cope, don’t expect performance matching European and Japanese opponents. 

Yet Hyundai borrowed Mitsubishi’s Sport Mode gearbox and named it "H-Matic". The 5-speed auto-based unit has a manual "+ / -" mode engaged by pushing the shifted to the second gate. As in Mitsubishi, fuzzy logic microprocessor memorizes the diving style of the driver. However, I couldn’t help thinking this is useless as the chassis never suggest enthusiastic driving. The power to weight ratio is a problem, the soft spring / damping setting is another, the inadequate suspension tuning is the third. There are double wishbones in front and mutli-link at the rear, but the heavy front end always understeer. Well, we know it’s a FF, but even the 272hp Volvo S80 T6 has far less understeer. Every time enter a corner in speed you have to back off the throttle, as a result, any driving pleasure disappears. 

The soft suspension also introduces a lot of body roll, but the most unexpected problem is torque steer, which rarely appear in such a punchless car with double wishbones front suspensions. Even without much power acted on the front wheels, the steering still feel inherently lifeless, not to mention steering response. 

So, if it is not a driver’s car, it must be a passenger’s car. Like exterior, the cabin design is as plain as Nissan Cedric. Dark fake wood on the console and door looks terrible. However, there is sufficient space and fine memory seats. Otherwise there is not much worth mentioning. 

The above report was last updated on 7 June 99. All Rights Reserved.


As indicated by its name, the engine has been enlarged from 3.0 to 3.5 litres, other changes are too minor to be mentioned. This engine upgrade is far from brilliant, as it lifts horsepower by 2hp to 194hp only, even deemed to be weak by 3-litre standard. Torque is better, with 216 lbft or 24 lbft more than before, and it arrives at 3,500 rpm. However, a 3-litre BMW straight-six produces 221lbft at the same rev, proving that the Hyundai engine is rather understressed. 

As before, XG350's chassis tuning follows the old school American sedans, with soft suspension setting hence poor handling - rolls, pitches, dives, understeers, loses grip early, lifeless steering has no communication to road at all, not a bit involving to drive ... so much worse than its Japanese rivals selling in USA. Any positive comments ? yes, spacious and quite well built. Interior quality can shame Nissan Altima as well as any American rivals. 

The above report was last updated on 27 Nov 2001. All Rights Reserved.


Front-engined, Fwd.
Front-engined, Fwd.
Size (L / W / H / WB) mm
4865 / 1825 / 1420 / 2750
4865 / 1825 / 1420 / 2750
V6, dohc, 4v/cyl, variable intake.
V6, dohc, 4v/cyl.
2972 c.c.
3497 c.c.
192 hp
194 hp
192 lbft
216 lbft
5-speed semi-auto
5-speed semi-auto
F: double wishbones / R: multi-link
205/60 HR15
205/ 60 HR15
1580 kg
1700 kg
Top speed
0-60 mph
8.1 sec*
0-100 mph
* Tested by Car And Driver

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