Sonata leads the naming change for Hyundai

Sonata leads the naming change for Hyundai

The newly renamed midsize Sonata sedan range leads the product charge for Hyundai in 2015, to be followed by the Genesis luxury sedan at the end of January, a facelift i30 will arrive in quarter two, and a newly renamed Tucson SUV as well as a facelift i40 range will launch in the third quarter.

Losing the i45 nameplate in favour of Sonata, and the ix35 nameplate in favour of Tuscon isn’t a major issue according to Hyundai New Zealand general manager Andy Sinclair.

“Everyone remembers Sonata and everyone remembers Tucson,” he says. “I don’t see it will be difficult to migrate people back to the old names.”

There have been seven generations of Sonata since the nameplate was introduced in 1985.

And the local distributor is also confident that despite the migration of customers from mid-size sedans to SUV models it will sell around 600 Sonata models this year, 70% to fleet customers.

The seventh generation Sonata wears a new body design known as Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 – Inner Force.

There are three Sonata models for the New Zealand market, a entry level 2.4-litre, an Elite 2.4-litre, and the new 2-litre turbocharged Petrol engine is solely fitted to the Elite Limited

Hyundai says there has been a focus on the quality of the materials inside the cabin of the three model range and then model picks up items such as a panoramic sunroof, HID head lamps, hexagonal grille, daytime running lights, and side mirror LED indicator lights.

Twin rear tail pipes and LED rear combination lamps are also a feature of the new Sonata. The Elite Limited wears 18 inch alloy wheels, while Elite and base model Sonata are kitted out with 17 inch alloy wheels.
The Euro 5-rated Theta II direct injection 2-Litre turbocharged engine in the Elite limited produces 180kW/350Nm and will consume 9.2L/100km on the combined cycle, its emissions output is 213g/km.

The Theta II 2.4-litre direct injection engine produces 138kW/241Nm and will consume 8.3L/100km on the combined cycle while emitting 194g/km.

Both cars are equipped with a Hyundai designed and built six-speed automatic transmission featuring Eco, Sport, and Normal mode.

Blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert are now part of the new Sonatas safety arsenal but self parking and active cruise is not available locally, yet, but could be in the future.

Hyundai New Zealand says that the introduction of the new Sonata was delayed due to issues with the navigation system. This will solely be available on the Elite Limited model and will feature Suna traffic management.

Prices:

2015 Sonata 2.4-litre $45,990
2015 Sonata 2.4-litre Elite $49,990
2015 Sonata 2-litre turbo Elite Limited $55,990

Driving impressions: New Sonata

The difference between the 137kW 2.4-litre direct injection engine, and the 180kW direct injection turbo charged 2-litre engine exclusive to the Elite Limited version, is quite remarkable.

Both are mated to six-speed transmissions, and there is a sport/eco mode button to adjust the engine management and transmission settings for more/less response as the driver requires.

As you would expect from a Hyundai, the 2-litre turbocharged engine is a smooth and powerful performer, but the winding drive route through the Manawatu did show up a little bit of torque steer through the wheel when power was applied too quickly when exiting a corner.

The turbocharged engine is deceptively quiet, its not a raucous unit as you would find in a WRX Subaru, and the Elite Limited will cover ground more swiftly than it sounds. Road and tyre noise is also relatively muted, this car has been designed for fleet and family use

The Elite Limited was well connected to the road, the Australian fettled suspension package has produced a good ride quality over the worst of New Zealand road surfaces but without losing accurate steering and confident handling.

Any front-wheel-drive car is going to be naturally prone to understeer through a corner, and the Sonata doesn’t deviate from the rule, but adhering to the rule of braking on the straight and then turning in will see the car turn in crisply and cleanly.

The naturally aspirated 2.4-litre Sonata felt softer and less responsive than the turbo, but equally it was all the more relaxing to drive, and once at cruising velocity, it proved a quiet and comfortable drive.

Both cars provided plenty of comfort and amenities inside the cabins, efficient air conditioning, and a bluetooth system that took seconds to pair a phone to, which is a godsend for any time pressed commercial traveller.

While it may not knock the Toyota Camry off the top of the mid-size heap (because Hyundai won’t play in the daily rental market that is basically owned by Toyota), the new Sonata is a very worthy opponent to the top three cars in the segment, only time and fleet buyers will tell how many are sold.

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