Introduction Style & Build Chassis & Suspension Engine & Transmission Performance Fuel Efficiency Handling & Braking Interior Technical Specifications Summing it up Review all variants of Hyundai Sonata Road Test by September 2001
Hyundai Sonata Gold - Introduction
There are cars designed to inspire, cars which are designed to excel and cars designed to perform. I was thinking on all these fronts when I was driving the stately Sonata from Bangalore to Pune. And when we hit the really interesting sections requiring my undivided attention, the above thoughts kept crowding my mind. With a vengeance! Hyundai has made a very successful start to its operations in India. It has used this to good effect to get going in different segments and more importantly building on each and every one of them. From the Santro to the Accent, its rise has been fairly well documented and now it has set into motion a gameplan which might just be its most ambitious to date. More so given the fact that this plan is at the exact polar end of the spectrum in context of its small and mid-size car offerings. Enter the Sonata, Hyundai Motor India Ltd's latest, with which it
Hyundai Sonata Gold - Style & Build At very first glance, especially one of the exotic silver hued test car, the Sonata looks like a million bucks. It just tosses the angular lines of the competent Honda Accord into a different league altogether. The amalgamated twin eyes look up front replete with the modern projection headlamps, the deep air dam on the wraparound bumper with those delicately crafted fog lamps recessed aesthetically in it to the gracefully fluted curves on the bonnet, sets the overall feel-good, classy theme as one takes in the rest of this automobile in a sweeping gaze. The rake of the windscreen and the A-pillar accentuate a hint of excitement and lend a finely proportioned look to the cabin. The curvy beltline along with a slight crease running early from the rear door to the tail lamp shows off enough character in profile. In fact the latest Sonata also features well crafted body sills which endow it
with beautiful poise, at rest or on the move. All this is enhanced to a large extent by the fitment of stylish 15-inch nine-spoke alloy wheels shod with 195/65 R15 radials. The 15-inchers fill up the wheel wells (with those subtle wheel arch lips) superbly. Then there is the rear end. Seen in three-quarter view it is pure Jaguar but the Koreans have had no qualms about being 'inspired'. Heck, if Toyota can ape the Mercedes E-class and the S-class, why can't Hyundai do so with the Jaguar S-Type? The treatment is so close to the Jag that even the tail lamps get the twin lens treatment. The chrome frame around the number plate area and that lip running around the leading edge of the boot are other detail highlights which set off one of the most beautiful, er ahem, rear end jobs in this country. The only discordant note in my perception is again in the toothy Korean grin, er grille on the front end. But if the oddball-styled
Santro can grow on you, this is Picasso in comparison! Good natured banter aside, the Sonata looks like a million bucks and is deserving of every glance that comes her way. Built on a 2700mm wheelbase, the Sonata's overall soft lines disguise the 4747mm length admirably well. Having short overhangs helps for sure and at 1820mm the car is one of the widest in the D-segment but averts an ungainly look. The high rigid body structure engineered with front and rear crumple zones has been perfected by super computers employing the latest CAD-CAM-CAE software. The body design incorporates a whole load of advances (multiple-location insulation, hydraulic-engine mounts, vibration dampers on body panels, etc) which contribute to reduced NVH levels. Dual-side impact bars in the doors, energy absorbing collapsible steering column, cross bar support under the dashboard, engine sub-
frame and low speed resistant bumpers round off the passive safety features on the car. Hyundai Sonata Gold - Chassis & Suspension Over the past decade Hyundai has made major strides in automotive engineering, manufacturing and design. While the small Santro and mid-sizer Accent have displayed this to an extent, the Sonata is a shining example of Hyundai's selfevolved car building expertise. Having been slotted slam bang in the hottest saloon car category in the demanding US market against the likes of the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry and the Ford Taurus, Hyundai has perfected the Sonata to match them on build while closing in on them on the technological angle. This fact manifests itself in the strong monocoque which is
torsionally stiff without adding mass or weight along with the overall design and layout of the suspension which is further finely tuned to work in the segment HMIL wants to slot the Sonata in. The Sonata employs a double wishbone front suspension layout with gas charged shock absorbers. The entire steering and suspension geometry upfront is further aided by the sub-frame mounted engine which helps isolate road imperfections from coming through to the cabin. The rear multi-link layout with gas charged shock absorbers is tuned in sync with the front and the optimal wheelbase to track relationship employed aids both overall stability and ride quality. As you read on, it is a combination of these two which makes the Sonata such a revelation. Hyundai has installed disc brakes on all four wheels on the upscale Gold version (the GLS base version, if it can be called that, has drum brakes at the rear). There are 205.6mm dia
ventilated discs on the front wheels while on the rear are 226mm dia solid discs. ABS is standard fitment while the Gold also comes with traction control. Rack and pinion steering gear (power assisted) is employed. Many other cars also sport these but HMIL has adapted them all to work seamlessly in tandem which really marks it out to be a most superior offering in its class.
Hyundai Sonata Gold - Engine & Transmission It is in this area that much is expected of the Sonata and for good reason given that the competition - Honda Accord, Ford Mondeo, to name but two will be banking heavily on their powerplants to make a statement. Let me state without hesitation that the Sonata holds its own without being swept away even though it has to contend with the brilliance of the
Honda VTEC technology. When Hyundai first informed us that the Sonata would be powered by the Sirius II 2.0-litre dohc 16-valve four-cylinder engine, I was slightly bemused given the girth and size of the car. While this was forgotten to a large extent when I drove the car in Korea, there remained a slight doubt. Now having driven the car on our roads, I can say that many of my apprehensions were unfounded. The 1997cc dohc mill employs multi-point fuel injection (developed and built by Hyundai itself) along with its very own EMS providing the vital inputs depending on a variety of sensors and conditions. While it might not have the out and out power of the detuned Accord engine (or the brilliance of its VTEC top end), let's get this fact straight: the SIRIUS II develops 132.12bhp at 6,000rpm from 1997cc while the Accord pumps
out 141 horses from 2294cc. Where the Sonata is seen in lesser light is in the torque arena: 163.83Nm (at 4500rpm) against the Accord's 191Nm. But forget figures for awhile and zero in on refinement and silk and cream smooth operation instead. Mmm... the SIRIUS II is a dream. The Sonata only comes with a five-speed manual 'box which features overdrive in the fourth and fifth cogs. The ratios are made for relaxed cruising and fuel efficiency. If anyone thinks they are out of sync they probably should look at another car for their needs. The shift quality is terrific without being vague while the clutch action is also right up there. Hyundai Sonata Gold - Performance
The Sonata is a soft car and one made to transport the high and the mighty (and also those who aspire to being such) in a manner which is vibe and jerk free, accelerating smoothly from standstill and shutting out rough edges of the world outside in an aura of sheer luxury and splendour. Of course it can't match Mercedes-Benz standards (especially of the S and E-class cars and no, don't get me into comparing it to the C-class which is in fact a smaller Merc more than a competitor to the Sonata), but it sure does its job pretty effectively. Starting from standstill, what is impressive is that the engine just about burbles over as it motors away. No laying rubber on the road starts for it but the engine can more than hold its own at exceedingly low speeds without in anyway being audible. Having to shift 1441kg (kerb weight) from rest is no problem
and the car motors away in the most demanding conditions also without the need to over rev or such. Of course smoothness is of the essence and I found that many were slotting into gears quicker than they should have. Racing shifts are not the way to get things done. Rather firm but measured shifts get the best out of this automobile. She is no sluggard though, doing the zero to 100kmph run in 13.43 seconds while taking 34.24 seconds for the zero to 150kmph sprint. On the highway, one needs to build up speed gradually, but once committed the engine hooks up and powers this car to a 182.84kmph top whack. Not bad by any means on sheer performance with the engine ticking over in the 57006000rpm range. Her flexibility is something else altogether. Slot her into fourth or fifth with the speedo at 120kmph or so and a glance at the tachometer shows the needle hovering in the 2500 to 2700rpm
range. The same holds true when driving in-town. A skilled driver at the wheel can have this sassy momma purring away like a contented cat. One can drive the Sonata at sensible speeds using just the torque to do the work. It is only when you try to stamp on the throttle without downshifting when you need to overtake or the like that one feels the slowness of response. Unfortunately the Sonata and all other D-segment machines will be compared to the Honda Accord, as yardstick for performance in this class, especially in terms of engine performance and refinement and it will have to live with that. Hyundai however informed us that they will begin this year with the SIRIUS II unit and by next year offer the 2.7-litre V6 with 170 horses for all those who want pace to go with the grace. Now that should be something.
Fuel Efficiency The Sonata's unhurried performance can be harnessed to derive good fuel efficiency. What one cannot attain without VTEC, Hyundai has attempted to do so with absolutely spot on gearing. When we motored down from Hyundai's Chennai plant to Pune, we monitored the fuel efficiency on each of the six cars crewed by pedal to the metal pen pushers trying to live up to their estimation of desi Michael Schumacher incarnations. The average fuel efficiency of the six cars was in the region of 6.89 to 7.9kmpl with flat out motoring being the norm rather than the other way around. In our highway run, she averaged 15.5kmpl without the air con and 14.4kmpl with the climate control switched on. She didn't do too badly in the in-town mode either, recording 6.9kmpl.
Having driven her extensively in both Pune and Mumbai and also on the longish highway run from Chennai plus the blasts to Ahmednagar and back plus many other small forays, the Sonata delivered an overall fuel efficiency figure of 11.2kmpl which is mighty impressive. With a 65-litre petrol tank this makes for an impressive 728km operating range.
Hyundai Sonata Gold - Handling & Braking The power assisted rack and pinion steering gear is nicely weighted and gives good feel though it can be improved in its dead centre position. Also as one gets to full lock on either side, the steering seems to thud against the stops rather than being damped as on the other cars. Maybe this was the only flaw we managed to pick out on the car.
Ease the car gently through the twisty bits and she is a delight, at any speed. Try to accomplish the same by taking her by the scruff of her neck and - being a wide car one can have it roll a bit but not enough to spoil the composure of the sugar daddies sitting in the rear. To be cocooned in luxury is what HMIL has created this car for and she comes close to achieving her makers' objectives. The road holding is of a very surefooted nature and the ride and handling balance Hyundai has managed to get just about right. So right in fact that it is uncanny! Add to that power delivery which is in tune with body control and brakes which perform well (over-servoed as they might have been). The ABS system is further aided with traction control which can be switched off if not needed. While motoring to Mumbai with the heavens having opened up in all their fury and visibility in the potholed section
of the Bhor Ghat down to just 25 metres or so, the Sonata rode the surface so well that I was amazed we never even once struck a rock, speedbreaker or such. Even under heavy braking the front end never kissed mother earth, especially given the soft spring rates and this was pretty good. One of the reasons behind this positive performance attribute is the Sonata's 177mm ground clearance. Hyundai Sonata Gold - Interior I am reminded of Jaguar's famous catchline - 'grace, space and pace' when I think of the Sonata. Of course it doesn't have the pedigree or the ferocious performance on tap. But to go with its head turning looks is an equally sumptuous cabin, well appointed, luxurious and airy. The upmarket Gold version features full (beige) leather upholstery, a superb air con
system along with an air purifier system which helps the hard working sethji breathe easier as he motors back from the share market. The soft touch dashboard is attractive but in a classy way while fake wood panelling abounds on the centre console, the instrument panel, the steering wheel and on the door handles. The seats are large and can carry heavies (literally and figuratively!) in comfort. It is the attention lavished to the occupants, especially those in the rear which marks this car out as one to be seen and driven in more than as one which most would crave to drive. Power windows, central locking, a great many cubby holes for odds and ends, a super stereo system, electric fuel lid and boot openers, the Sonata has it all and is not found lacking on any count, especially given its competition and the price tag she sports. Leg room and head room are as lavish as any in its class
and the driving position can be pretty much termed as relaxed. Good all round visibility is another strong design aspect of the car contributing to a cheery cabin ambience. Overall the pervading high class feel is what Hyundai has worked to achieve, at least on its Gold spec version. On this count it has the Accord beat. Hyundai Sonata Gold - Technical Specifications Overall Rating 0-100 kmph Quarter Mile Top Speed Ride Handling Brake rating 13.43s 18.90s 182.84kmph Good Good Average
SPECIFICATIONS Engine Type Installation Valvetrain Displacement Bore & Stroke Comp Ratio Max Power Max Torque Engine speed Bhp/Litre Power/Weight Fuel Delivery Fuel 4-cyl in-line, MPFi Transverse 16 valve DOHC 1997cc 85mm x 88mm 10:1 132bhp @ 6000rpm 163.82Nm @ 4500rpm 6000 rpm 66bhp/litre 92bhp/ton Electric Unleaded Petrol
Maintenance Oil/Filter change Tuneup Basic Warranty Chassis & Body Layout Body/Frame Brakes front Brakes rear (GLS) Assist Type Wheels 3 box sedan Monocoque 205.6mm discs 228mm discs Booster assist 7+8inch tandem on GLS & 8+9 inch tandem on Gold 6.0J x 15, steel on GLS, Alloy on Gold 10000km Every 10000km 1year
Tyres Steering Overall ratio Turning circle Turns lock to lock Suspension front Suspension rear
195/65 R15 Power assisted rack and pinion 14.14:1 10.8m 3.04 Independent suspension by double wishbone with gas shocks. Stabilisaer bar. Independent multi-link with gas shocks. Anti-roll bar.
General Data Kerb Weight Gross Weight Wheelbase Track (F/R) Length 1441kg 1920kg 2700mm 1540/1530mm 4747mm
Width Height Ground clearance Boot space Accomodation Seating Capacity Head Room, (F/R) Leg room, F max/min Knee room, F max/min Knee room, R max/min Shoulder space Drivetrain
Top Speed Max Speed Speedo read 182.84kmph* 190kmph
*Achieved in 4th gear using Datron Correvit EEP-3 laser test gear at NCAT in VRDE, Ahmednagar. Braking Minimum Stopping Distance From 80kmph Control Brake Feel Overall Brake Rating 27.79m/2.60s Good Average Average
Fuel Economy Petrol Overall In-town Highway Fuel Tank capacity Range Tester Ratings Design & Style Powertrain Performance Fuel Efficiency Dynamic ability Space Creature Comforts 11.2kmpl 6.9kmpl 15.5kmpl 65 litres 728km
Driver Appeal Summing it up
HMIL officials were at pains to impress us that it was not what is (or not!) under the bonnet that will draw in the image conscious to its D-segment offering but how well it can waft these very same homo sapiens in terms of luxury and ride and comfort and safety. The jury is out on this count at the moment though whosoever we showed the car to were impressed enough to buy it for their grandfather or father after driving it around. No offence meant when all of the persons who saw, drove and were driven in it already are Mercedes-Benz owners and want another car for their chauffeurs to handle. The plushness of the interior, appointments therein and that stunning shape made most arrive at these decisions. But I say again, the jury is out on this count and we will adopt a wait and watch attitude.
What cannot be denied however is that a car which looks like a million bucks can be yours for Rs 14,21,110 lakh (OTR Mumbai) which is, I feel, the correct pricing rather than an aggressive introductory bid. Taken as a complete package - smashing style, ample space, fine interior appointments, great ride quality, decent handling, good performance even if you have to coax it out sometimes, technical goodies like traction control, a strong dealer and service network plus strike the right money chord pricing - the Sonata has it all covered, except for one vital ingredient. IMAGE! Hyundai knows this but is not too perturbed, preferring to work at building this on its sheer strength and also on making available the Sonata only to those who have a certain standing in society, at least in the initial phase! Knowing the firmly entrenched reputation of the Accord in Indian minds, it will have its work cut out though Honda has made it slightly easier for HMIL by not going the whole hog on trim and equipment levels.
As of the moment the company is making one car per hour at its Chennai facility (a separate line has been set up exclusively for the Sonata) with eight units rolling out per day. This figure can be hiked to 16 if two eight hour shifts are resorted to. That will be the one sureshot indicator that the Sonata has got motoring, into the hearts of those who can make it count! Discontinued HYUNDAI MOTOR INDIA. Variants Model : Sonata S 20 Model : Sonata 2.7 V6 HMain Review Page Matic Technical Main Review Page Specifications Technical Standard Specifications Equipment Standard
Equipment Owner's Feedback Photo Gallery This model is discontinued Model : Sonata Gold Model : Sonata GLS Main Review Page Main Review Page Technical Technical Specifications Specifications Standard Standard Equipment Equipment Owner's Feedback Owner's Feedback Photo Gallery Photo Gallery This model is This model is discontinued discontinued
Owner's Feedback Photo Gallery This model is discontinued