Review and Test Drive of New Hyundai SonataWe�ve just been driving the new Hyundai Sonata in Chennai & initial impressions are very promising. Hyundai hopes to emulate the success of its first generation Sonata with this car and, going by the looks alone, it is on the right path.
The dashboard is clearly divided between the driver & passenger, & Hyundai has used sweeping arches to clearly define each binnacle. Hyundai�s new front seats offer fantastic thigh support & are wide enough to support your shoulders. & even the elbow rests are perfectly placed & well padded.
There is plenty of space at the rear as well, & the seats feel comfortable. The wheelbase is larger than on the current car & as a result the Hyundai saloon almost has the same cabin volume as a Honda Accord. And, like all cars in this segment, you get rear air con vents & a very comfortable elbow rest.
While interior quality levels are not as good as those on the Accord, they are pretty close. Some bits like the black plastic on the centre console, vents, steering wheel & especially the stalks disappoint � their quality is not really up to what you expect.
The 2.4 litre direct injection GDI motor feels refined & develops 198bhp at 6300 rpm, but it doesn�t feel as powerful as the numbers suggest. The engine isn�t quick revving & things only really get frantic after 4000rpm.
Hyundai will launch the Sonata with a six speed manual transmission & also a six speed automatic. We drove the automatic which worked well overall but felt a bit indecisive at times. You can opt to use the paddle shifters to stay in the preferred gear & driving in this �manual� mode is actually more pleasing.
Straightline stability is impressive & the ride quality is good too, although it does feel a bit stiff on sharper bumps. The new Sonata gets independent suspension for both the front & rear, important on a car of this size. The handling, like most Hyundais, is however compromised in favour of a softer setup; so while the new Sonata dives into corners very enthusiastically, it lacks the accuracy or finesse of something like a Skoda Superb in corners. However, the steering felt quite nice in the confines of the city.
The Sonata has a spacious & comfortable cabin & Hyundai has equipped the car generously too. Ride quality is comfortable & there will be sufficient performance on hand with the 198bhp GDI motor. It may not be blessed in the dynamics department & may lack the finesse of some of its competitors but assuming Hyundai gets the pricing right, the Sonata will give the Korean carmaker its best shot at regaining lost ground. & since Hyundai will be assembling the Sonata at its Chennai plant, expect the car to be priced at around Rs 21.5 lakh (ex showroom) for this model. If there�s one thing Indians know how to appreciate, it�s value for money, & Hyundai knows that too well.