WHEN we motoring writers are allowed out to mingle in polite society, we are typically asked two questions.
First, what is your favourite car of all time?
My response is to tell them to sit down and prepare for a few hours of mind-numbing ramblings that end, inevitably, with me saying it's impossible to answer.
Second question we're asked is what car we currently own and drive.
Now this is one we can't swerve. And it's a great question, as surely someone who earns his coin by reviewing and writing about cars would only buy something they considered the best that money could buy, or at least, the best they could afford?
So, time to 'fess up. My current plaything is a 1989 Peugeot 205 GTi, while the family workhorse is an eight-year-old Volvo V50 wagon.
The dashing Swede has been brilliant in its ordinariness; was excellent value compared to a BMW, Merc or Audi of similar vintage, and has always been spacious enough to accommodate our family of four and associated baggage.
But I've been contemplating updating the family car, and with a bit of persuasion from the better half I've been exploring German sedan offerings of about 2007 vintage. At about eight years of age these cars - think BMW 530i or Audi A6 - have dropped from over $100,000 original purchase price to the sub $20,000 bracket. Very appealing.
But just as this path looked the most likely one to explore, I've now lived with a long-term test Hyundai Sonata Premium for the past month.
One of Hyundai's advertising taglines for the Sonata is "You'll be hooked". I'd typically dismiss this as ad-speak hyperbole, but I've started to see their point.
I've rated the new Sonata highly since my first fling on a Tasmanian test, but now living with it for so long I'm starting to want for little else.
The turbocharged 2.0-litre is a silky treat with quite surprising performance, and I'm actually returning economy figures better than Hyundai's quoted ones. Perhaps that shows I'm driving it like a family sedan rather than a sports car, but even so, beating quoted economy figures is practically unheard of. I've certainly never achieved it in a BMW.
Key for the family however has been the practicality. A beach trip with the kids this week meant a sun tent, baby buggy, scooter, body board, countless towels and clothing changes needed accommodating in the boot, and it turned out the Sonata's 510-litre cargo area could have taken plenty more.
That's far more space than I get in the old Volvo wagon, and gear hidden away under a sedan boot feels a lot safer than exposed behind a wagon's glass.
I've also found getting the kids in and out of child seats in the Sonata has been easier than in the Volvo thanks to the huge rear leg room. I can comfortably get in the large door to plug them in or unclick them, something that will prove even more important if we ever get ISOFIX car seats.
This sort of thing is key. Car companies like Hyundai are throwing so much appealing standard kit in their cars these days, and technology has moved on so much in the past decade, that it makes the spec list on older luxury cars look a tad wanting.
So does this mean I want to actually buy a Sonata?
Dropping more than $40k for a Hyundai still seems foreign to me, but I'm starting to be convinced that buying a new Sonata with all its toys and a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty is a far more sensible bet than risking buying a near decade-old BMW or Merc, as much as I love them.
Don't you just hate it when your head starts to rule over your heart?
Model: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Premium.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive mid-size sedan.
Engines: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generating maximum power of 180kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 350Nm @ 1400-4000rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Performance: 0-100kmh 7.2 seconds.
Consumption: 9.2 litres/100km.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $41,990.
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