2006 Hyundai Azera 3.3 litre V6 petrol
Rapid, luxurious and large, but no fun
Suspension bushes squeaking.
CV joints failed.
Electric seat switch failed.
This was my first Hyundai, and by and large, I am satisfied with it. Azeras have poor resale in South Africa, so I picked it up for the equivalent of about USD7500 with 126000 km (78000 miles) on the odo.
Little has gone wrong, save for a failed electric seat switch, worn-out CV joints and incessant (and very irritating) squeaking from the front suspension bushes; something I have also noticed on some other Hyundais. The brakes tend to shudder and are not a match for the brakes I had on the 1989 Audi 500 Turbo I used to own.
The engine has very good power (173 kW), but this is a heavy car, so fuel consumption suffers with the 5-speed autobox. I get 13-14 litres/100 km with lots of city driving, but I have been able to record a best of 7.8 litres/100 km on an easy highway drive at 120 km/h without using the AC.
The 5-speed autobox cannot be hurried and is creamy smooth, but with delayed kickdown, which at least means it does not tend to hunt. Manual override is a true override that will not kick down and improves the gearbox's responses markedly. Pull away is very abrupt and difficult to modulate, especially with the FWD. One keeps on bolting away from standstill with chirping front tyres and the throttle progression is a weak point. I have got the hang of slow starts, but moderate starts still elude me - the wheels will spin embarrassingly easily on a wet road and the traction control then causes significant axle tramp. I am not exaggerating; everyone who drives the car launches off the line like a buffalo late for a stampede the first time they attempt a smooth pull away. It gives a feeling of power, for sure, but it is ultimately irritating.
The chassis somewhat spoils the car too. The suspension is comfortable over large undulations and takes dirt roads fairly well, but minor bump absorption is poor and the ride over broken surfaces jittery. Yet, for all the apparent sportiness in the unyielding low-speed ride, there is significant body lean and loads of understeer, while the suspension is noisy and the wheels tend to thud into depressions, making the car feel heavy-footed and not fun at all. It does not have the depth of ability engineered into the chassis that a good European car has.
The interior is enormous, at the expense of some boot space and everything is electric: steering and seat adjustment, powered folding mirrors, the lot. Auto lights and wipers, and loaded with more luxuries than I care to mention, for a 2006 model car. But the radio is disappointing, with an ugly LCD display and no RDS! The lack of RDS on Hyundais has been driving South Africans crazy for years, and the Azera is no exception.
Servicing and maintenance is reasonable, but some parts prices are preposterous from the local agents. Two rear LEDs have blown and I was quoted on them separately and very cheaply. But it turns out they can quote on them separately but will not sell them separately; you have to buy an entire rear light cluster. Service has not been very good, with technicians apparently a little clueless about the Azera, which is admittedly a rare car in South Africa.
I will buy another Hyundai due to their smart styling, high spec and unmatched warranties, but the Azera failed to connect with me on any emotional level, like my Ford, Audi and VW did.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 27th June, 2013
It appears very few people write about their Azeras here, so I will update my above review to the benefit of the few owners out there reading this.
The car now has 158 000 km on the odo (just about 100 000 miles) and still nothing major has gone wrong. In fact, its day-to-day reliability has turned out to be the car's strongest suit.
The suspension bush is still squeaking, but it has become no worse or better. However, I have sourced a new one from the agents for a reasonable R380 (about 38 dollars US). However, the agents charge R627/hour (USD 62) and they charge 3 hours to replace it - I might have it done elsewhere. My non-franchise mechanic is far cheaper.
Fuel consumption has settled on a steady 13 litres/100 km (22 MPG UK; 18 MPG US). This may seem thirsty, but it is the worst-case scenario. My daily driving includes lots of city traffic, no highway driving and plenty of short distances - I live 1,9 km (just over a mile) from work.
I'll be looking to replace the Azera before anything goes wrong, so it's on the market. However, judging by its current performance, it will just keep going for a good few years still.