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First drive: Sonata CRDi sings Hyundai diesel tune

Diesel-fuelled: New Sonata CRDi is priced from $30,490.

New diesel version replaces petrol V6 and heads facelifted Sonata sedan from Hyundai

3 Jun 2008

HYUNDAI has broadened its economy push with the launch this week of its second diesel-powered passenger car – the Sonata – in Australia.

Hyundai Motor Co Australia (HMCA) executives have been pleasantly surprised by the success of the diesel i30 hatch, with about half of i30 customers selecting the oil-burner over the petrol variant.

It is not expecting diesel to be quite so strong when it comes to the Sonata, but is tipping the new engine to account for 40 per cent of sales for the mid-sizer despite a $2500 premium over its petrol sibling.

Hyundai has dropped the 3.3-litre ‘Lambda’ V6 petrol engine in order to make way for the turbo-diesel. It continues to offer the 2.4-litre ‘Theta II’ four-cylinder petrol engine.

While the i30’s diesel engine is built with economy rather than noise suppression in mind, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel unit now available for the Sonata is a more refined powerplant.

1 center imageIt is also remarkably economical, recording a combined cycle fuel economy figure of just 6.0L/100km when using the standard manual gearbox.

The four-cylinder diesel uses common rail direct injection and a variable geometry turbocharger for smoother torque delivery.

Peak power stands at 110kW, but as is the case with diesel engines, it is the torque that really counts. Maximum torque is 305Nm, available from 1800rpm to 2500rpm.

This is a different engine to the 114kW/343Nm 2.2-litre diesel available in the Santa Fe SUV, and which will soon to be dropped into the Grandeur large car (see next page).

In addition to the six-speed manual gearbox, the Sonata diesel is available with an optional ($2000) four-speed automatic. The auto version is thirstier than its diesel sibling, recording a combined cycle figure of 7.0L/100km.

This compares to the four-cylinder petrol Sonata, which uses 8.0L/100km with a manual and 8.4L/100km with an automatic.

The 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has been given a mild upgrade for the 2008 model introduction and now has variable timing for both the intake and exhaust camshafts, rather than just for the intake cam. It also benefits from a new variable induction system. The engine produces 127kW at 6000rpm and 225kW at 4000rpm.

The manual petrol model kicks off the Sonata range at $27,990 in SLX trim, while the diesel SLX manual costs $30,490. Hyundai offers an Elite version of the petrol Sonata at $34,990 and the diesel at $36,990. These models come standard with an automatic.

Standard safety gear across the range includes electronic stability control, traction control, ABS brakes, front, side and curtain airbags and front anti-whiplash headrests and three rear headrests.

Other features include air-conditioning, electric windows, cruise control, a trip computer, split-fold rear seat, and a single-disc CD sound system that also features an auxiliary audio plug for MP3 devices, a USB drive and iPod compatibility.

The base models include 16-inch wheels and a full-size spare wheel. Stepping up to the Elite model adds 17-inch alloys, reverse parking sensors, premium CD sound, a more extensive trip computer, electric front seat adjustment, body-coloured doorhandles, leather seat trim and climate control. Hyundai has made some minor exterior changes to the Sonata that you would be hard-pressed to pick. They include revised front and rear bumpers, headlights and foglights, a redesigned grille and the addition of side chrome strips.

The interior has also been altered slightly with a new information display and other minor modifications.

Hyundai has also revised the Sonata’s suspension damping to better account for Australian roads.

2008 Hyundai Sonata sedan pricing:
SLX $27,990
SLX (a) $29,990
SLX CRDi $30,490
SLX CRDi (a) $32,490
Elite (a) $34,490
Elite CRDi (a) $36,990

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