Hyundai unveils upgraded Sonata

March 4, 2014
Hyundai Motor unveiled the all-new Sonata at its research center in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. (Courtesy of Hyundai Motor)

Hyundai Motor unveiled the all-new Sonata at its research center in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. (Courtesy of Hyundai Motor)

By Kim Tae-jong

Hyundai Motor unveiled the fully changed Sonata family sedan, Tuesday, before its official launch on March 24, saying the new model will be the most competitive among its rivals in the market.

“The new Sonata will open a new era and show where we are headed,” said Executive Vice President Park Jeong-gil during a news conference at the automaker’s research center in Namyang, Gyeonggi Province. “It’s not just a newly revamped model, although we tried to be faithful to the basics to make it the most loved car in history.”

Making its debut in 1985, the Sonata has been one of the best-selling sedans in Korea and has sold more than 7 million worldwide.

In terms of design, the seventh-generation model has a simple yet higher-end appearance with the application of so-called “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0,” a term used to describe the bodywork of the automaker’s new models. It was first applied to the new Genesis, which made its debut in November.

In fact, the Sonata shares many key design elements with the Genesis such as the grille. It also boasts a streamlined and spacious interior. Its control buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard have been rearranged for more intuitive use by drivers.

But, most importantly, the automaker has doubled the proportion of high-strength steel used in the new Sonata, which allows the vehicle to achieve better fuel economy, safety and driving stability.

“The reduced weight and enhanced strength from the high-strength steel will consume less fuel but enhance driving stability overall,” said Vice President Hwang Chung-yul said. “This is the most competitive segment in the local market, but we’re confident that the new Sonata is a step ahead of our competitors in every aspect.”

The proportion of the use of high-strength steel stands at 51 percent, up from 21 percent in the previous model.

The consequence is that the new model obtained high fuel efficiency of 12.6 kilometers per liter, which is the highest among 2.0-liter-engine, gasoline-fueled family sedans here.

Combined with dual-stage airbag systems, the new Sonata is the safest sedan in its class, Hwang added.

Confident of the upgraded safety features, the automaker also demonstrated a car-crash test after the news conference.

The automaker proudly said the Sonata has obtained “good” grades in all different tests, while its competitors, such as the Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat, have received “acceptable” or “poor” grades in some tests.

In terms of power train, the new Sonata will be equipped with either a 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter gasoline engine.

The bigger engine variant is newly added to the Sonata lineup in order to better compete with foreign sedans such as the Camry and Passat, whose flagship versions come with a 2.4-liter engine.

Upgraded features and increased use of high-strength steel, however, will necessitate a higher price tag for the Sonata.

“We haven’t decided on the price range of the new model yet,” an official from Hyundai said. “But new features and upgraded productivity may lead to an increase in price.”