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First Impression: Hyundai Sonata rhapsody

 

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By OON EE SENG

BEETHOVEN’S Moonlight Sonata was inspired by his 17-year-old pupil, the Countessi Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom the piece was dedicated. The maestro considered the sonata to be inferior to many of his other piano masterpieces, dubbing it as Sonata quasi una fantasia (Sonata in the style of a fantasia).

Hyundai’s all-new Sonata, on the other hand, was influenced by the Korean marque’s “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0″ that is less fluidic than its predecessor for a more angular and imposing exterior.

It is not all fantasia. Gone is the ultra-fluidic design lines that have defined Hyundai’s design language for the last few years. Instead, a more sleek and graceful appearance is apparent.

The Sonata LF, as it is internally designated, is larger than its predecessor at 35mm longer and 30mm wider for a total of 4,855mm in length and 1,865mm in width, with the interior room benefitting from the extra 10mm inserted into the wheelbase. It can accommodate five occupants comfortably with adequate legroom in the rear.
Boot space is also above average at 510 litres.

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The cabin takes on a more driver-oriented layout with a centre stack that tilts towards the driver, similar to its corporate cousin, the Kia Optima K5.

Attention to details in the cabin includes the addition of reading lights in the rear and generous splashes of cubby holes to hold your water bottles and other items.

The power mill now consists solely of a 2.0-litre Nu engine with 152hp and 194Nm of torque. It is of a multi-point injection (MPi) design and is mated to the refreshed six-speed automatic from the previous model, with the direct-injection (GDI) engine reserved for the more premium i40.

Three variants are available – the Elegance B, Elegance and Executive.

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The Elegance B entry-level trim comes with only two airbags with the usual safety array of anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), hill assist control (HAC), electronic stability control (ESC) and 17-inch wheels together with a 12-way adjustable powered seat for the driver. Other standard equipment include dual-zone air-conditioning, steering audio controls, cruise controls, the new smart trunk system and push start.

The Elegance version brings the airbag count up to six while adding in a super vision cluster instrument panel, reverse camera, front parking sensors, touch-screen audio visual head unit with GPS and a safe drive recorder.

At the top of the trim line is the Executive variant that runs on larger 18-inch wheels with extra bits like active-cornering lamps, a panoramic roof, eight-way adjustable powered seat for the front passenger and a sportier faux-carbon trim in the cabin.

We took the Sonata Executive for a spin from Kuala Lumpur to Dengkil and Port Dickson.

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The flat underbody provides for improved aerodynamics as we glided comfortably on the highway and trunk roads.

Stability is enhanced with the use of high-tensile steel which sees a jump to 51 per cent over its predecessor’s 21 per cent. It has 41 per cent extra torsional rigidity and the increased utilisation of hot-stamped components by nine per cent contributed to enhanced performance in crash testing.

The electric steering helps to reduce fuel consumption while MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link set-up in the rear handle suspension duties well. Intense testing in the NVH department, including Hyundai Motor’s Technical Centre at Nurburgring in Germany, has grossly reduced the noise, vibration and harshness levels in the cabin.

The drive mode control system allows selection between Eco, Normal and Sport which alters the throttle response, steering feel and transmission shift times to optimise the Sonata’s performance.

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Handling is also enhanced by the amplitude selective damper which varies the Sonata’s shock absorbtion capabilities for increased stability and comfort.

The full Android-based system employed in the touch-screen head unit operates on the Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) version with Waze and other apps made available.

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The smart trunk system is an interesting feature which automatically opens the boot when we are near the rear end with the key fob in our pockets for more than three seconds.

 

A plus point is the segment-leading eight-year or 300,000km warranty covering the drivetrain that is not transferable from the first owner. However, the Sonata’s five-year or 300,000km manufacturer warranty will be transferable if still valid.

Pricing for the Sonata starts at RM143,163.30 for the Elegance B, RM149,845.30 for the Elegance and RM158,053.30 for the Executive. All pricing are on-the road and inclusive of insurance.

Hyundai Sime Darby Motors, the custodian of the Hyundai brand in Malaysia, has come out with a commendable sedan in the competitive D-segment for executives and those on the go.

Specifications of the all-new Hyundai Sonata Executive

Engine: 1,999cc MPi
Max power: 152hp @ 6,200rpm
Max torque: 194Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Safety features: S6 airbags, ABS, ESC, HAC, safe drive recorder
Price: RM158,053.30 OTR w/insurance

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