Azera lacks style and magnificence

Musa Zondi

Musa Zondi

There will always be someone greater or lesser than you. If you compare yourself with other people, you might become vain and envious. And we know what envy leads to.

This, at least, is the teaching of the Desiderata . The envy part is mine. All the time behind the wheel of the Hyundai Azera, that is what I was thinking.

Make no mistake, Hyundai as a manufacturer has come of age. They make beautiful cars and have upped their ante so much that they have a right to claim that their cars are good.

And the Azera is good. Sleek, agile and, dare I say it, a pleasure to behold. But I would hit the delete button when it comes to that gaudy red light at the back. That's "so 90s", as younger people would say with an almost disgusted look in their eyes.

While the lines are smooth and the exterior aesthetically pleasing, the hips on the back wheels are really irritating. When you cast your eyes to the side mirrors, you would be forgiven for thinking that something was wrong with the car. They jut out rather uncomfortably.

Hips are nice to look at and to hold, but they can just be too much. These are too much. Get inside the Azera and kick the engine to life and the sound is sonorous. The pipe sounds well-tuned with the engine as it eases into drive.

The drive is fine until you have to take corners. The engine does not seem to talk to the suspension. The power is there, but the suspension has a different story. The two just do not merge. The engine is powerful and the suspension is weak. What results is an uncomfortable ride.

Taking a corner just off Noordgesig towards the Sowetan offices just proved how unstable the car can be. The feeling is balloonish.

If you have ever taken a ride in a hot air balloon, you will know what I mean. Especially when you land and the air has picked up speed. That is the feeling you get in the Azera.

Hyundai wants to convince us they have mastered the art of German engineering excellence. They have not. On its own, the Azera stands proudly, albeit with dodgy handling. Compared with German cars, it is still way off.

Performance-wise, the Azera is not bad. The manufacturer claims that its 173kW 3,3litre, all-aluminium quad-cam V6 engine produces a top speed of 230kmh and can gallop up to 100kmh in just 7,8 seconds.

Very well then. As the Desiderata says, do not compare yourself with others. Hyundai has made a grave mistake by doing that. The less-than-precise handling aside, the Azera is good. It is a leap of faith and a step beyond. Long may it live and continue to be refined.

For just under R300 000, it can be yours. But if you ask me, it is not worth that much.