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Future models - Hyundai - Sonata

New York show: Turbo Hyundai Sonata firms for Oz

Pumped: Hyundai's new Sonata will be an all-four-cylinder petrol affair when it lands in Australia later this year.

Hyundai Australia confirms that its born-again Sonata is likely to get 182kW turbo

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Hyundai logo17 Apr 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

HYUNDAI'S seventh-generation Sonata is likely to offer brisk turbo motivation in a range-topping sports model when the all-new mid-sized sedan arrives on the Australian market in the second half of this year as a belated replacement for the i45 that was discontinued more than a year ago.

The Korean company's Australian branch says it is “seriously considering” adding the punchy 182kW/332Nm turbo-charged 2.0-litre Theta 2 four-cylinder petrol engine to the line-up alongside the carry-over 2.4-litre normally aspirated 148kW/310Nm four-cylinder engine, perhaps with a manual six-speed gearbox as an alternative to the six-speed auto that is a definite starter for Sonata in Australia.

A turbo version has long been offered in South Korea, but is a first in this model in Australia.

The new Korean-built Sonata will run in parallel with the European i40 mid-sizer in Hyundai's Australian showrooms – at least for a time – again giving Hyundai a two-pronged attack against the market-leading Camry that is set to get a major facelift next year.

The sedan-only Sonata and new-look Camry were both unveiled overnight at the New York motor show where Hyundai Motors Australia public relations manager Guido Schenken confirmed that the turbo-charged Sonata was a strong chance for the Australia market adding another string to the company's bow in the hard-fought medium car market.

He said the Sonata would also get the Australian distributor's local suspension and steering tuning treatment to optimise it for local road conditions and customer tastes.

The car is expected to be launched Down Under in September or October – around the same time as the new Genesis luxury large sedan flagship from which Sonata has borrowed a number of high-tech features including forward collision warning and lane-departure warning.

The new model restores the Sonata name to the Australian line-up for the first time since 2010 when it was dropped in favour of i45 to bring it into line with other local models such as the i30 and i40.

The i45 itself was dropped in Australia in January 2013 because of supply constraints, leaving Hyundai with the i40 sedan and wagon to hold the fort until the arrival this year of the new Sonata.

This time around, Hyundai's parent company has ruled that Sonata should be the global name.

The new body's steel panels are 50 per cent high-strength steel, making the car 41 per cent stronger in torsional rigidity and 35 stiffer in bending rigidity.

Hyundai claims this and other engineering efforts that “cascaded down from Genesis” make the Sonata much quieter and smoother than its predecessor in line with the goal of giving Sonata a premium-car feel.

The company boasts that its designers have liberated so much extra cabin space in the new generation that it is now classed as a large car by the American Environmental Protection Agency, while all its major rivals remain medium cars.

Sonata gets Hyundai's latest Fluidic Sculpture 2 design language – again following in the wheel tracks of the Genesis – which not only endows the new model with a more mature look but a super-low 0.27 aerodynamic drag co-efficient.

A bigger, wider grille is part of the design, along with LED daytime driving lights, 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear lip spoiler on the base model.

In America, the Sonata Sport and Sport 2.0T get a more aggressive body kit and wider grille. The turbo version also gets 18-inch wheels and quad-pipe exhaust tips.

Hyundai Design North America chief designer Chris Chapman said the Sonata's styling had been crafted “in the same way as an award-winning chef refines his recipe over the years”, saying it had gone from “a meal to a gourmet dinner”.

The extra effort also extends to the interior, where surfaces and controls have all been lifted a notch.

Automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control and 'smart trunk' – an automatic boot opener that pops the lid when the driver with the key fob in a pocket or handbag approaches the rear of the car and waits three seconds.

The American model – to be made at Hyundai's Alabama factory – gets a vast array of electronic connectivity, including Apple's new CarPlay for iPhones.

Seven airbags are standard.

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