Hyundai is investing far more in the Sonata than would normally be expected of a mid- generation update. Every panel forward of the front screen is new, while changes to the rear bumper and trunk lid give the back of the car a completely new look. There are also subtle changes to the bodys side profile including a redesigned panel for the sill under the door, and a revised chrome trim that frames the windows and runs along the front fender to wrap neatly under the headlamp. Together, all these elements create a car that looks far more dynamic, longer and wider.
At its launch in 2014, the current LF- generation Sonata was the latest interpretation of Hyundais Fluidic Sculpture design language a unifying set of principles that have underpinned Hyundais transformed credentials for design in recent years. The reborn Sonata shows how Hyundai is building on that success, evolving from Fluidic Sculpture into a new set of concepts officially arrived in Africa and Middle East markets, with a dramatic new exterior design, an impressive list of standard safety features, and new engine and transmission options.
Select journalists from the MENA region got an opportunity to experience the full power and handling of the 2018 model at the Sonata Media test drive event in Salalah recently. A thorough briefing on vehicles performance, handling and innovation was conducted before the start of the event at Rotana Salalah hotel. The 200-km long test drive covered Fazaya beach, Anantara Salalah and Wadi Darbat.
Created at Hyundais California Design Studio, the 2018 Sonata builds on the models strong legacy, while distinctive new exterior styling transforms Sonatas visual signature. The dramatic new appearance is highlighted by Hyundais bold new Cascading Grille in front, and an all-new rear with more prominent branding and relocation of the license plate from the trunk lid to the bumper.
We are calling this, Sonata, The Reborn because the changed look of the car is so importantly, Sonata, The Reborn shows that Hyundai is not going to wait until it has an all-new generation of a current model before giving its customers something new.
We have one of the best design teams in the industry, not just in Korea but in Europe and North America as well, and Sonata, The Reborn is a superb demonstration of what they can achieve, said Mike Song. An all-new model is a blank sheet of paper, it gives the designer freedom and flexibility. With a facelift, the designer begins with an existing structure, and certain fixed parts of the bodyshell and panels must remain, so there are limitations. To create something that is truly new and fresh, while working within those limitations, takes an enormous amount of talent.
Comfort and safety
Inside, the renewed center stack and instrument panel now create a more visual dimension and add a premium feel to echo the exteriors eye-catching new looks. Changes in the cabin include a sporty three- spoke steering wheel and piano-key buttons to control the audio system and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The 2018 Sonata can be equipped with an optional seven-inch color display audio touchscreen, and enabled for Apple CarPlay integration in countries where this is available. The available navigation system is enhanced with a birds- eye-view feature.
New convenience features offered include remote engine start with smart key, so drivers can warm the engine and run the air conditioning before getting into the car. Keeping on-trend with todays connected passengers, smartphones can now be charged without a plug using the available wireless charging pad (Qi standard).
Adding to an already impressive list of standard safety equipment, every 2018 Sonata can be equipped with Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA), and front and rear Parking Assist (PAS). Working in conjunction with the standard rearview camera, RCTA gives drivers peace of mind that the road behind them is clear. Child safety is enhanced with the introduction of ISOFIX attachment points for child safety seats.
For a safer driving experience, exterior changes come with improved lighting. Standard headlights feature halogen projection for low beam with separate multi-facet reflector (MFR) lamp for high beam, while an optional LED bi-function lamp system offers Dynamic Bending Light. This technology minimises blind spots while night driving by automatically adjusting the direction of the light according to movements of the steering wheel. Front fog lamps are replaced by new vertical LED daytime running lights, while optional LED rear lights are also offered as an alternative to standard bulb lamps.
The Hyundai Sonata features a selection of advanced, all-alloy four-cylinder engines. Options in the Middle East include 2.0 and 2.4-liter MPI engines, 2.4 GDI engine, and a highly developed 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI. This top-of-the-line 2.0T engine produces an impressive power output of 245 PS with its twin-scroll turbocharger, compared with 152 PS for the non-turbo MPI. In a technical upgrade, the 2.0T is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which adds to the gears ratio range at both the top and bottom for improved performance and efficiency. Other Sonatas feature a six-speed automatic in Middle East specification, with the 2.0 MPI available with a six-speed manual.
The current Sonata has been well received by owners for its ride and handling. MacPherson strut front suspension is augmented at the rear by an independent multi-link design with coil springs, while all corners feature dual-flow damper shock absorbers, with front and rear stabiliser bars to reduce body roll. Precise rack-and- pinion steering features column-mounted motor-driven power steering, which adjusts the degree of assistance depending on conditions. For the 2.0T, there is dual-pinion rack-mounted motor-driven power steering.
Hyundai engineers further refined the chassis for 2018. To achieve this, the rear suspension receives 21 per cent thicker trailing arms to better manage heavy suspension loads, while new bushings allow for more ride compliance and quicker response times. The steering systems torsion bar stiffness has been increased by 12 per cent to improve steering responsiveness, and new steering calibration further improves on-center feel.
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