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Review: Hyundai Sonata

Driven July 2012

Review: Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is an old dog in the Indian market, giving the likes of the Accord a hard time for years. But lately, the Sonata has lost its edge thanks to newer and improved competition. But Hyundai has struck back, and how. Confused?

Have a look at the new Sonata and you won’t be. We’ve always found Hyundais a bit quirky to look at, but the new Sonata breaks the “Toothy Korean” rule. It looks modern, sophisticated and even though the chrome will blind you, the Sonata is a good looker. It’s American-sized as well, so it looks massive and has loads of street presence too.

Don’t be fooled by the GDI badge on the boot – there’s only a petrol motor on offer as of now. You get a choice of automatic and manual 6-speeders. We drove the petrol with the manual tranny. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder makes 198bhp and 250Nm of torque. It’s a fairly refined motor but feels strained when pushed. The mid-range is good and performance is quite decent. However, you can’t help but notice the disparity between the power on paper and on the road. We’re not saying the Sonata’s slow. But with close to 200bhp on tap, we expected a little more shove. Zero-100kph takes 9.73 secs and top speed is on the good side of 200kph, but it needs its space to get there. Fuel efficiency is decent at 8.2kpl and 10.3kpl for the city and highway cycles.

The Sonata is a mixed bag in the dynamics department. The massive wheelbase gives it great straight-line stability and bumps are taken care of without much trouble. But the rear is a bit too soft for our liking, giving the Sonata a pitching tendency. Through corners, you know you’re driving a big car and you can’t throw it around. The steering, however, feels better than the older car’s – it’s still vague especially off-centre and could be sharper, but this is definitely a good improvement. Not a driver’s delight just yet, but not bad for its size.

It’s on the interiors where the Sonata scores. There’s lots of equipment to play with and quality levels are on par with the competition. The cabin feels far more modern and sophisticated. It still has some way to go to get to Skoda Superb levels, but you won’t come out of the Sonata complaining too much. The ventilated rear seats are comfy with ample legroom even if you’re The Big Fat Indian.

Priced at Rs 21.67 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), the Sonata is decent value too, but it needs to undercut the Skoda Superb by a bigger margin to really fly off the shelves. It’s a great car, if you’re going to be mostly chauffeur driven. Sure, it may not have the snobby badge on the hood, but the Sonata is just as capable and one of the best Hyundais yet. We wish it was in diesel too.



Manish Sarser

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