Back in the nineties, I remember the white body black bumper Hyundai Sonatas plying our roads, some of which were commissioned by the government. Those were miserable cars. Times have changed. In 2011, the sixth generation Sonata was out, which was nothing short of radical flamboyancy. With mixed reactions from this model, Hyundai revisited the sketch room for the seventh generation of this mid-sized saloon. The latest iteration is more conservative, yet bold and more refined than the last one. The fact that such quality is locally assembled got us all excited and we had to have a go at it.
Design wise, the flagship brand Genesis design cues are prevalent in the large wide grille and streamlined headlamps. Reminiscing the sixth generation's laid back coupe-like style, the roofline blends with the C pillar into a subtle opera window and into the short boot lid. Huge 18” alloys, straight horizontal body lines and exquisite exterior detailing gives the Sonata a high segment appeal.
Climb into the cabin and a plush brown leather interior greets you. The contrasting black dashboard and center console works brilliantly as well. Hyundai redesigned the center fascia with an ergonomic driver-oriented layered dash set up - LCD screen with stereo controls in the top and climate controls at the bottom. There's a miniature supervision cluster between the glowing white dials that display the vitals of the car. There is no drama in the center console, which houses the leather-clad shifter and a few buttons, the drive mode selector being the highlighted one.
Although the driver's seat is electronically controlled, the passenger's one is not. But who cares about that when you get ventilated front seats? A panoramic roof makes up 3/4th of the roof. Hyundai claims a 2+3 seating arrangement, but we can fit in an entire extended family in the Sonata. The rear passengers have the luxury of rear AC ventilation, door curtains, and electric backlit curtain. From the exterior, it seems as if the boot space is limited, but open the trunk and you will be surprised at the vast emptiness that will eat your luggage and groceries away at ease.
Do you want to drive it or be driven in it?
The Sonatas offered in Bangladesh come in 2.0 and 2.4 liter 4 pot petrol motors - we got the latter one. The figures are respectable – 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, but with lazy delivery with the drive mode at normal. With most modern cars, a sport mode is merely a marketing gimmick, which does practically nothing to the drive train but alters the handling for a sportier feel. In the Sonata, however, the sport mode juiced in life to the dreary RPM and speed needle simultaneously – the revs build up more before the gears decide to change. Yet, despite the speed building up, you will not feel the punch of a 185 hp motor. Not even with you taking control of the gear changes via the tiptronic option.
That is purely because of the weight of this thing, great exterior sound deadening is partly at fault. The Sonata's driver view is great considering it's a large sedan. The large 18” wheels do well at hugging the road, although the car lacks a bit of steering feedback. I drove the car through some trench sized potholes near a construction zone at ease and the Sonata's relatively large wheelbase did not scrape at all – indicating good suspension set up.
Having said all these, the plethora of options, comfort and luxury at the back seat far outweighs the driver's.
The Sonata is not for you if you want to have a fun weekend car to drive around. It is, however, a great choice if you like being chauffeured daily to your work and to your country home or the golf course in the weekends.
Also, you can adorn your garage or your office façade with this pretty thing. Got to admit, Hyundai has done well at designing the Sonata.
Engine: 2.4 litre GDI 4 cylinder petrol (185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque).
Transmission: 6 speed auto, Speedtronic, Front Wheel Drive.
Suspension: MacPherson Strut front, Independent multi-link rear.
Features: ABS, EBD, TCS, front-side-curtain airbags, keyless entry, panoramic roof, rear AC, climate control, heated seats, power seat for driver, leather interior.
For pricing and other details, contact Hyundai Motors Bangladesh limited.
Photos: Farhan Ahmed