The Hyundai LAFESTA Is An Alright Car, But The Marketing Could Use Some Work

Hey all you go-gettin’ red hot Chinese Millennials, Hyundai has got the car for you: LAFESTA (all caps)! This is a Chinese-market-only sedan that comes with enough marketing gibberish to choke a horse and enough sloganeering to make the Zhongxuanbu nod in quiet approval.

The vehicle made its debut recently at Auto China 2018 and here is what Hyundai had to say: “At the 2018 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition Hyundai premiered the LAFESTA. A car with a powerful driving performance packaged in stylish design.”

Then they added: “LAFESTA is a landmark addition to the aggressively expanding Hyundai line-up in China.”

Seriously, the press release is riddled with sayings like that.

Pop Quiz

Can you pick which ones were written by Hyundai Motor Company for the Beijing show:

  • 1 – “LAFESTA embodies Hyundai’s new design philosophy, Sensuous Sportiness.”
  • 2 – “Long live the 23rd of August, the great celebration of the LAFESTA.”
  • 3 – “LAFESTA targets young generation looking for smart performance.”
  • 4 – “All the best on the occasion of November 7th, followed by the slogan LAFESTA forever.”

If you thought numbers 2 and 4, you would be wrong, those are Romanian Communist Party slogans. Numbers 1 and 3, however, are direct quotes. Can this marketing strategy work? Even in a sellers market like China? I dunno, but we’re going to find out, because Hyundai is not slowing down.

LAFESTA, which, yeah, is the word for festival, or party, although Hyundai specifies they nicked it from the Italians. That’s an obvious nod to making the point of: SPORTY-SPORTY-SPORTY! Buy our car all you young hip sportsters in China! LAFESTA, according to the Korean auto manufacturer, is a “high-performance sporty sedan designed to meet the dynamic and passionate demands of a new mainstream generation from the 80s and 90s.”

See! See!

Photo: Hyundai Motor Company.

Power & Performance

The LAFESTA is a coupe-styled sedan with a fairly modern powertrain and a slew of innovative driving assistance systems. It’s propelled by a 1.6 turbo GDi engine that puts out an unspecified amount of power and torque. That giant, throbbing mill is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmmission for efficient gear changes.

The inside is said to be spacious and made from quality materials. The overall cockpit environment is driver-focused and designed to be engaging. Safety? Set your mind at ease, my friend: “the LAFESTA features the most advanced and safest driving assistance systems. Further details will be disclosed in due course.”

See? Doesn’t that make you feel safer already?

Jumbled Jargon

And that is about it for deets on the (maybe) 2019 Beijing Hyundai LAFESTA, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Did you think we were done with the slogans? No we are not comrade.

Read this: “Beijing Hyundai today reiterated its new Chinese market strategy slogan ‘Quality Hyundai, Smart Future’, which was first announced last year in its 15th anniversary in the Chinese market, as the company sets about to develop and embrace the new generation, rapidly developing in the Chinese market.”

Does that make sense to you? Is it supposed to make sense? Is there some sort of entraining rhythm to the gibberish that will eventually make me shoot Bobby Lembeck in the forehead? I don’t know, but there it is: “Quality Hyundai, Smart Future.”

Here’s what I want to know: What if this marketing plan (such as it is) actually works for Hyundai in China? Will they try and use it over here? On Us? Sheesh, that’s a bleak thought. But now you know, if you start seeing things like “Pringles Now, Happytime Tomorrow” or “Chevy Man, Chevy Strong” you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

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