Hyundai Sonata Test Drive
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Hyundai launched the 1st generation if its luxury sedan-the Sonata way back in 1985 in US and other countries. The Sonata was first seen in India in its 4th generation in the year 2001. It was Hyundai’s first luxury sedan for India and sold in decent numbers. Hyundai gave many facelifts to it till it recently decided to get the latest Sonata in India. This is the 5th generation Sonata that's currently selling across the globe. Hyundai had unveiled the All New Sonata at the recently concluded Auto Expo in Delhi in January. We test drove this latest luxury offering from the Korean car maker on some of the most scenic roads between Chennai and Pondicherry and took it around for a spin for more than 300kms. Read on to meet and understand the New Sonata’s real virtues.
Design - Exteriors
Hyundai has off late been highly influenced by the Fluidic design on all its car models. The Hyundai i20 was its first car model to be styled on the Fluidic design followed by the New i10 and recently, the all new Verna was dawned in fluidic design.
At first glance, the New Sonata is a complete head turner. Yes it does remind a lot of the Mercedes CLS especially the coupe like roofline and the rear profile. So, what you finally get is a Mercedes CLS like design style at a value for money low price in comparison to the Mercedes. The smooth flowing body lines and fluidic curves are very prominent when seen from any angle.
The front of the New Hyundai Sonata is mainly significant and very imposing. The nose of the New Hyundai Sonata looks rather catchy with water fall-effect-sloping chrome grill. This wide grill is made of three horizontal chrome strips surrounded by another chrome band that makes the outer border for the radiator grill.
The large H Hyundai logo in chrome sits in the centre of the all chrome nose of the New Hyundai Sonata. Besides the chrome grill are the cat-eye shaped head lamps. These large sized headlamps have a swept back effect on them. The headlamps come equipped with HID (High Intensity Discharge) white lights in them (Xenon headlamps).
The headlamps also have headlamp washers fitted on the bumpers as standard fitment. The New Hyundai Sonata gets Multi Reflector type trapezoidal shaped fog lamps that are mounted in a rather fluffily curved front bumper. The combination of all the waterfall effect chrome radiator grill and cat eyed HID headlights and trapezoidal fog lamps give a very premium aggressive and dynamic look to the New Hyundai Sonata upfront.
The bonnet has two smooth flowing lines that run down from the windshield and mate on the radiator grill running their soft lines on it. Moving to the sides, the Fluidic design element is at its highest visibility here.
The fenders get the curved fluffy fluidic sculpture effect and the large doors do get the fluidic touch with a sharp arc like line that flows across the doors starting from the front fender and then right through the front door ending on the tail light. This body line flows through the door handles in-line with them.
The door handles are in an all chrome finish. The other design elements that highlights the side profile of the New Hyundai Sonata is the chrome insert line on the lower window that starts from the headlamps and runs all the way to the rear quarter glass enhancing the sportiness and premium looks of the car.
The wing mirrors get integrated LED turn lights and are shaped on a stretched oval shape going with the fluidic design. As mentioned, the low coupe like roofline that streamlines into the small quarter glass and finally into the boot reminds a lot of the Mercedes CLS and that in-fact is a very good thing. We missed the inclusion of a Sun/Moon Roof which is a common feature in this segment.
The New Hyundai Sonata drives on special Silica tryes mounted on 17 inch 5 double spoke alloys. The tyres are of Hankook make and of 215/55 R17 Tubeless specs.
The rear profile of the New Hyundai Sonata is largely personified by a set of ornamental wrap round tail lamps that have the LED effect in them and a thick chrome strip just above the number plate. Fluidic design is also visible largely on the tail lamp detailing which extends onto the tail gate.
A huge rear bumper houses a rear reflector and the oval twin exhausts in chrome making the rear profile look very sporty and stylish. The boot lid extends itself slightly infusing a small inbuilt rear spoiler in it. The GDI monogram in red looks smart on the tail.
The exteriors of the New Hyundai Sonata look smart, stylish and very premium. The classy fluidic design is a total head turner and suits the wide bodied car perfectly. The new Hyundai Sonata has dimensions of 4820mm of length (20mm more than the outgoing Sonata) 1835mm of width (3mm more than the outgoing Sonata), 1470mm of height (15mm lesser than the outgoing Sonata), while the wheelbase stands at 2795mm (65mm more than the old Sonata).
Interiors – Cabin
The Hyundai Sonata always boasted of premium and spacious cabin and the New Hyundai Sonata takes the same philosophy ahead. The New Hyundai car has a dual tone dash board. The upper half made of soft plastic material while the lower half in beige plastic.
The four spoke steering is also made of the same dual tone material with heather wrapping on the grip. The steering wheel is adjustable manually for height and reach. You have all the steering mounted controls for the audio, trip info, Bluetooth and cruise control (only on the automatic version) and the automatic version gets paddle shifters on the steering.
The instrument cluster is a two pod affair that’s housed in concave housing with chrome strip on the outside. A silver line on the outer ring and a blue back lit band defines the speedo and the RPM meter.
You get a multi info display in the center which reads the Trip A and B along with total time driven and average speed done. A gear up shift or down shift indicator is also on the speedo cluster.
The center console has a large blue back lit display on the top for the music system and a single MP3/FM player below it. An USB/iPod port and a AUX connection is placed under the AC unit. A deep storage box sits below the climate control command button.
A two zone climate control is placed just below the climate control just below the storage area. The gear shifter is in black with silver flushed to its top. The automatic version of the New Hyundai Sonata gets the slot type auto shifter instead of the gear knob.
A neat thin chrome strip runs across the bear shifter module adding to its premium appeal. The gear console comes with a double openable storage armrest that can be cooled from inside.
A lot of storage space is available behind the gear shifter. The 10 way adjustable seats get all leather upholstery with the driver’s seat getting full electrical adjustment for height, reach and lumber support.
The front passenger seat has electrical adjust for reach. The front and rear seats get ventilation system with heating and cooling in them. The manual gets this just on the rear seats while the automatic gets them on all four seats. The leg room and head room in the front is more than generous and the seats offer perfect support and comfort.
The rear seats as mentioned get the cooled and heated ventilation and a foldable center armrest with audio controls and rear seat cool/heat buttons in them. A rear AC vent is also provided between the front two seats. You get bottle holders in all the door pads which are tastefully done.
The leg room at the rear is more than enough with the rear passenger able to fold his legs and sit very comfortably. You also get map pockets behind the front seats. The rear seats offer perfect seating posture and are very comfortable.
The manual Sonata gets a key type ignition while the auto version gets the push button start ignition on them. The build quality and materials used in the cabin area are of high standards. Sound damping is also top class with the cabin going pin drop silent once the doors are shut.
Engine – Transmission – Suspension
The New Hyundai Sonata uses the next generation GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection). Initially the New Sonata will only be available in petrol engine option with a six speed manual and a six speed automatic version.
The GDI engine is something more technologically advanced than a turbo engine. The New Hyundai Sonata is powered by a 2.4-litre (2359cc) GDi in-line petrol engine that makes 201PS of power @ 6300 rpm and 250 Nm of torque @ 4250rpm.
The GDI engine makes use of fuel injectors that are fitted very near to the cylinders and sprays the fuel directly into the cylinders at almost ten times the pressure of a conventional fuel-injection system. This system not only gives good performance but also ensures a good balance of fuel economy. We drove the manual version initially and the automatic later on.
Manual Gearbox – The manual variant behaved very tamely on the test run. The gear ratios are well sorted out with the first gear being the shortest but still pulling to speeds of 50kmph. The 2nd gear pulling to 100kmph and we did 150kmph easily in the 3rd gear. The drive is effortless with shifts being precise. The steering feedback is on the lighter side. The suspension is tuned on the softer side with ride quality being top notch; you can literally drive over bad patches of roads at high speeds and not notice anything. The special silica tyres are also responsible for the high ride quality. The New Hyundai Sonata did not jitter a bit while taking on sharp bends or corners during our Chennai Pondicherry test run on the ECR road. Hyundai must be complimented for the near perfect suspension tune. Braking is also sharp and precise.
Automatic Gearbox- The feel is a bit different in the auto variant of the New Hyundai Sonata. The drive is lively and comfort level is high as you don’t need to shift gears. The auto mode shifts gears sanely keeping the car mostly in the Eco mode for highest fuel economy. You can get the true power felt once you start indulging in using the paddle shifters. The drive note changes when using the paddles as you can now pull the car in high revs.
Overall Ride quality
The New Hyundai Sonata is a good driver’s car and that is proved by now but what about company executives who do not drive themselves and mostly sit at the rear seat? Well, things at the rear seat are very comfortable on the go. The road noise is below limits and the ride quality is of premium level.
The New Hyundai Sonata comes loaded with safety features starting with the front two air bags, side and curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), ABS with EBD, Rear Park assist with video display on the center rear view mirror, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers etc.
The New Hyundai Sonata is a superb looking luxury sedan; it’s got all the key ingredients to turn heads and to get noticed. Features are loaded till the brim. The New Hyundai Sonata is equipped with an efficient and powerful GDI petrol engine that drives very potently.
Ride quality is top class and so is the comfort level. It is just the perfect choice for people looking for a deluxe sedan in the class. Prices for the New Hyundai Sonata will be known in the first week of March and we are sure it would be priced lower than the rivals i.e. Honda Accord and the Skoda Superb.