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Hyundai’s new Sonata breaks cover

Middle road: Hyundai’s sharp-looking seventh-generation Sonata delves deeply into the Korean car-maker’s Fluidic Design 2.0 styling.

New-gen Sonata revealed, badge returns to Hyundai Australia showrooms in 2014

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Hyundai logo24 Mar 2014

By BARRY PARK

HYUNDAI has unveiled its seventh-generation Sonata, revealing a new-look, roomier mid-size sedan that will arrive in Australian showrooms during the second half of 2014.

The new model will replace the i45/Sonata that was discontinued here in early 2013 over supply constraints. It will be first car sold here badged Sonata since the fifth-generation was replaced by the aforementioned i45 in 2010.

In an approach echoing that of Honda and its Accord/Accord Euro models, Hyundai is expected to continue selling some versions of its European-designed i40 once the Sonata launches, particularly given that car’s availability in diesel and wagon forms.

Compared to the old i45/Sonata, the new model has better NVH levels thanks partially to its substantially stiffer body-shell (up by as much as 41 per cent). It also has higher levels of safety, including a driver’s knee airbag, LED lighting, and active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems.

Its styling borrows from the Fluidic Design 2.0, a stronger design language that will mark Hyundai’s next generation of passenger cars. It is a little more conservative than the old i45, which polarised with its unusual styling.

The front of the new-look Sonata is set with a single-frame hexagonal grille set inside a long overhang, framed by LED daytime running lights that are usually only featured on more premium brands.

Strong swage lines run down the Sonata’s flanks, running down to a high-set rear light cluster that is split by the bootlid. The roof, meanwhile, sweeps back sharply from the sharply raked windscreen to give a coupe-like look to the rear.

The new Sonata is 35 millimetres longer and 30 millimetres wider than the previous generation of the car. Full dimensions are: 4855mm long, 1865mm wide, 1475mm high and 2805mm in the wheelbase – all similar to the new Mazda6.

Hyundai says the larger dimensions have benefitted interior space, as well. Inside, the Sonata has improved ergonomics, with much of the dash tilted towards the driver.

The Hyundai engineers have also worked hard on ergonomics, developing a new steering wheel that is thicker in cross-section but with ergonomic grips for the driver’s hands.

According to the car-maker, information vital to the driver that was once displayed on the dash’s centrally mounted screen has moved to the digital display in the instrument cluster. A large eight-inch screen remains on the more premium models.

But the big change, according to Hyundai, is the new Sonata’s ride, and a reduction in noise, vibration and harshness.

“These objectives were achieved in part through optimized suspension damping that gives occupants a soft, silent and comfortable experience,” Hyundai said.

“A luxurious feel is generated through exceptional ride comfort, while the thorough development of handling and steering feel allows the all-new Sonata to also offer a stable and secure ride over all road surfaces and in all driving conditions.” The car-maker said it had made significant changes to the front and rear suspension, with the structure and geometry modified “to enhance responsiveness, handling and stability”.

It said the dual lower suspension arms of the multi-link rear suspension distributed lateral forces more effectively than single arm versions, giving it “greater freedom” to fine-tune ride characteristics. As with the previous Sonata, the new one uses MacPherson struts up front.

The electrically-assisted power steering, meanwhile, is said to have improved feel helped by a larger data processing unit, increased logic control cycle and motor control speed, and greater steering column rigidity.

“Gentle on-centre feel and agile, precise and responsive steering feel are aided by the all-new Sonata’s Drive Mode Select function, which allows the driver to choose the best driving parameters to suit their requirements or the current road conditions,” Hyundai said.

Images of the interior of the car show it is also likely to get automated parking that steers the Sonata into a parking space.

Equipment slated for for the Korean market includes an electric parking brake, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats with rear-window sunblinds, a sunroof, USB and Bluetooth connections, and a bootlid that swings open at the sweep of a foot under the rear bumper.

Australia is likely to get versions of the Sonata featuring a 142kW/247Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine for the cheaper models, while more premium versions could be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine shared with the larger Genesis sedan and producing about 150kW/300Nm.

Hyundai will offer six-speed automatic and – potentially – six-speed manual transmissions. Hyundai is believed to be working on a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Hyundai Australia expects the Sonata to arrive here by about October, shortly after the arrival of its larger, flagship Genesis sedan.

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