HYUNDAI has been supplying Hong Kong with affordable and practical motoring alternatives for years and as each model has been introduced, the Korean manufacturer has expanded the marque's appeal and potential customer base. The Excel and Elantra offer good basic family transport for rock-bottom prices; the Scoupe GT caters to budget-conscious sports coupe fans; and the latest addition, the Sonata, rounds out the Hyundai stable with a feature-packed midsize saloon that will not tax the budget. Taking its place in a competitive arena that includes the likes of Camry, Accord and Maxima, the Sonata is most noteworthy for its impressive all-inclusive price of $238,000. Considering the package includes important safety features, such as a driver's airbag and ABS braking, and caters to executive tastes with leather seats, powered driver's seat and electric sunroof, it would appear Hyundai's reputation of ''more bang foryour buck'' is well represented here. Hyundai designers played it safe with the Sonata's styling, but while the aerodynamic lines of the sedan are not ground-breaking, there is sufficient identity to the bodywork to set it apart. The front-end treatment is strong, with a sloping hood terminating in a simple but elegant chrome-accented grill, framed by narrow wraparound light clusters. Additional chrome around the windows offsets the body-colour. Squat Michelin radial tyres mounted on smartly-styled alloy wheels, and twin stainless steel exhaust pipes, subtly suggest the potential for respectable performance. Under the hood, that possibility is further reinforced by the presence of a transversely-mounted, three-litre, single cam, V6 engine producing 146 horsepower. It is equipped with a catalytic emission control system and a fault-finding self-diagnostic engine management unit. An electronic four-speed automatic transmission drives the front wheels. There is little lacking in the Sonata's interior in the way of executive-level ap-pointments. Firm but comfortable leather seats, a smart four-spoke leather wheel with tilt-control and a leather shift knob set the tone. In addition to the powered driver's seat, electric switches operate windows, a two-way sunroof, central door locking, mirrors, antenna and remote boot release. Air-conditioning is standard, as is a premium Sony stereo system that features a stacking CD player and a removable control panel to discourage would-be thieves. Also included is an infrared keyless entry system and an intruder alarm. In the rear passenger area there is generous leg and head room and the seats are contoured for long-distance comfort. Seat backs fold down to provide a cargo pass-through into a commodious 373-litre boot, with a full-size tyre mounted on an alloy rim stowed beneath the floor. Away from the kerb, the Sonata steps out willingly and the torque of the V6 makes easy work of propelling the 1,344-kilogram vehicle through city traffic. The option of a sports shifting mode further exploits the power available and despite the impression created by excessive engine noise, acceleration and shifting are smooth. The power-assisted steering, which is a little sluggish at low speed, improves as the pace quickens. And while it fails to provide reassuring feedback, there is little drama at respectable speeds. The suspension seems a little harsh, and at times noisy, due to minimal chassis soundproofing. But it handles cornering chores adequately. ABS braking, with ventilated discs at each wheel, delivers a quick, controlled stop, and pedal pressure is reassuringly firm. More road, chassis and engine noises make their way into the cabin than they should, compared with the high standards set by others in the class, and perhaps this is one area Hyundai needs to address as it detracts from an impressive package. The bottom line is you will not find a stylish three-litre sedan packed with its long list of standard features at a price that comes even close. Hyundai has once again delivered unprecedented value for money.