Hyundai Crashes US-spec Sonata into Korean-spec Model to Prove They Are Identical

2015 Hyundai Sonata 1 photo
Photo: Hyundai
While the make and model of any particular car can be the same all over the world, there are usually differences hidden under the skin.
Let's take the Dacia Duster as an example. This crossover is the most popular model made by the Renault-Nissan alliance, but Dusters assembled in Romania are different from those made in South America. Part of the problem comes down to the part suppliers, but automakers also intentionally cut the number of airbags in emerging markets. Considering it's been discovered recently that not all iPhone 6S models are the same, perhaps we shouldn't act so surprised.

Apparently, there's been a huge scandal in Korea in the past couple of years that we knew nothing about. According to The Korean Car Blog, customers are complaining about poor build quality and numerous mechanical flaws. Some people are even claiming that the parts used to make their Sonatas are inferior to those in American models.

Officials organized a huge media event in August where they crashed two Sonatas head-on to put everyone’s fears to rest. The Venetian Red car is a US-spec model with the 2.0T engine, and the Lakeside Blue is the South Korean counterpart.

The footage is dramatic, as the test was carried out in front of a live audience. After the dust had settled, engineers showed deformation was identical, thus proving that the Korean Sonata also uses ultra-high-strength steel.

They also concluded that airbag deployment was good in both cases, thanks to 3rd generation airbag systems installed on the Sonata sedans. This contradicted popular claims that 2nd generation airbags from the older Sonata had been used to cut costs.

Of course, there are still differences. For example, the Koreans get a much wider choice of engines. The Sonata Diesel is offered with a 1.7-liter U2 unit and delivers 141 PS, coupled with 340 Nm (250 lb-ft) of torque. There is also a 1.6-liter turbo GDI that can be matched to a CT twin-clutch transmission.

The Sonata Hybrid and PHEV are also sold in America, but only in certain markets. However, we're pretty sure you've never even heard of a model that runs on natural gas.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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