The Kona isn’t the only car Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors is launching soon – the company also previewed the new Hyundai Sonata to the media this week. Fully imported from South Korea, the eighth-generation DN8 will be fighting in a D-segment sedan market that is slowly shrinking but still counts the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat as its fiercest competitors.
For now, the new contender is wading into battle in just a single trim level, powered by a new 2.5 litre Smartstream MPI four-cylinder petrol engine. It makes 180 PS at 6,000 rpm and 232 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, all of which goes through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels.
The new Sonata certainly looks a great deal different compared to its staid predecessor. The first car to bear Hyundai’s latest Sensuous Sportiness design language, it returns to the sleek four-door coupé look first seen on the sixth-generation YF.
At the front, you’ll find a far wider and more aggressive Cascading Grille, flanked by slim trapezoidal LED headlights that sweep upwards towards the front wheel arches. The Sonata’s characteristic chrome bonnet strips take on new functionality as they hide the LED daytime running lights, which disappear from view when turned off thanks to laser-etched perforations.
Moving over to the side, the sweep of the low-slung roofline is mirrored in the arching shoulder line, accentuating the car’s concave and convex surfacing. The rear end features C-shaped tail lights that you might recognise if you are a Honda Civic owner, joined together at the bottom.
The Sonata enters the market in standard form, meaning that it gets the more conservative look with a full-width chrome strip and hidden exhaust pipes. Make no mistake, however, this is still a very striking-looking car, a fact emphasised by the complex 18-inch alloy wheels.
Break out the measuring tape, and you’ll notice that the Sonata is a little larger than its predecessor. At 4,900 mm long and 1,890 mm wide, it’s 45 mm longer and 25 mm wider, while its 2,840 mm wheelbase is 35 mm longer. It is, however, 30 mm lower at 1,445 mm, which adds to the car’s dynamic look. The drag coefficient has also been reduced to 0.27, thanks to features like a flat underbody and finned tail lights.
Inside, the new car is again quite a departure, with a slim dashboard, a tall centre console and a freestanding infotainment touchscreen. The display unit seen here sports an eye-catching two-tone colour scheme, with a tan upper dashboard and leather seats. The touchscreen is the smaller eight-inch unit rather than the 10.25-inch display available in other markets, but it still supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Other unique touches include a push-button gear selector and a cooled Qi wireless charger that keeps your smartphone from overheating. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, push-button start, power-adjustable seats with driver’s side memory, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, auto lights and wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 360-degree camera system.
Under the skin, the Sonata rides on a new third-generation platform that makes the car both lighter and more rigid. There’s a multi-load path structure and greater use of hot-stamped and super-high tensile strength steels, which improve crash safety and reduce noise, vibration and harshness. Enhanced steering and suspension geometry also make for increased stability and handling response, Hyundai says.
Safety-wise, the Sonata boasts a new Blind-Spot View Monitor, which works just like Honda’s LaneWatch but with two key differences. It uses cameras on both sides of the car, instead of only the far side; it also displays the feed in the instrument cluster (replacing the gauge on whichever side the driver indicates) rather than the infotainment screen.
The car also comes with six airbags and stability control, but unfortunately, it misses out on Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of driver assistance features, including autonomous emergency braking. This omission is particularly grating considering that the range-topping Kona 1.6 T-GDI, which will almost certainly be much cheaper, will come with these systems.