By: IOL Motoring Staff
Seoul, South Korea - Hyundai's bigger, sleeker, somewhat more conservatively styled 2015 Sonata sedan has been officially unveiled in its home market, three weeks before its official world premiere at the New York auto show on 16 April.
Hyundai is calling the all-new Sonata 'an evolution' of the previous model and the new Genesis, which debuted in Korea in November 2013; it has picked up a number of new technologies first seen in the fancier Genesis, while taking Hyundai's 'fluidic sculpture' design language a step further, including striking new LED daytime running lights and tail-light clusters.
At 4855mm it's 35mm longer than the previous Sonata, on a 2805mm wheelbase, and 30mm wider at 1865mm, while its height is essentially unchanged at 1475mm, for a useful gain in interior volume, some of which is used to a carve out a 462-litre boot.
Active safety features such as blind spot detection, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control are standard, as are rear parking sensors, an electronic parking brake, heated and vented front and rear leather seats, and rear side-curtain airbags, along with high-beam assist, advanced multimedia and next-generation infotainment systems.
In order to convey a sense of luxury, the interior designers paid special attention to all the areas where the occupants touch the car, using high-grade materials such as leather and metal, rather than plastic wherever possible.
The Hyundai boffins have also taken Ford's under-bumper kick sensor one logical step further; if the smart key comes near the rear bumper for more than three seconds, the boot will open - while you keep both feet firmly and safely on the ground.
TAKING YOU FOR A (VERY SMOOTH) RIDE
In addition, there's 30 percent more high-strength steel in the body shell than in the previous edition; Hyundai is claiming a 41 percent improvement in torsional rigidity and 35 percent in bending moment.
And before you ask what good that does on a luxury, rather than performance, car it allows the suspension to be made more supple and smoother-acting without comromising roadholding or steering accuracy.
The MacPherson strut front suspension has been extensively revised to go with the next-generation motor-driven power steering, which has a larger data processing unit, increased logic control cycle and motor control speed, allied to a more rigid steering column, for a gentle on-centre feel and agile, precise steering feel, helped by the new Sonata's drive mode function.
At the rear, dual lower suspension arms distribute lateral forces more effectively than the earlier single-arm versions, allowing greater scope for fine tuning.
Korean-market Sonatas will come with a choice of two-litre petrol engines - a base unit rated for 112kW and 194Nm, and a 124kW/201Nm version with variable valve timing - and the same direct-injection 2.4-litre GDi unit (148kW/250Nm) as in the current Sonata.
Each drives the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Closer to home, no decisions have yet been made as to which variants will be available when the new Sonata is released on the South African Market early in 2015, although it is likely they will include the range-topping 2.4 GDi - probably only with paddle-shift transmission.
Prices, as always, when they get here.