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Review: Hyundai Sonata 2.4 Premium Facelift

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Sonata_02

IMO, the 18″ alloys fill up the fender gap nicely.

I have tasted a few of life’s little and pleasant surprises; doing a good job and getting acknowledged and going the extra mile and satisfying a customer.

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Nothing dramatic or overly used plastics engine cover here.

You don’t get them on a daily basis but you would be totally elated the moment you experience the feel good factor. This brings me nicely to Hyundai Sonata, recently facelifted and at the same time being endowed with more features. The Sonata that I had for the weekend is a 2.4 Premium specification and bestowed with 18″ alloy wheels, panaromic sunroof, automatic headlights, dual air condition control, LED positioning & fog lamps, HID headlights, front driver and passenger electric seats, paddle shifters, satellite navigation and 6 airbags that separates it from the lesser 2.0 sibling.

The 2.4 litre 4 cylinder Thetta II lump at the front puts out 180hp at 6,000 rpm and 228 Nm of maximum torque at 4,000 rpm through a 6 speed conventional torque converter automatic transmission to the front wheels.  Given that the Sonata weighing in at 1,443 kg, power delivery feels adequate to move it around. Gone are the days when Korean cars are known for bad fuel consumption. According to the trip computer, I managed to clock 8.4 litres / 100km when driving consistently at national speed limit on the North South Expressway. In the Malacca town traffic, the fuel consumption however, spikes up to 9.6 litres / 100km. But, in total, I have clocked 540 km with about 130 km more to spare when the car is returned to the rightful owner.

The engine feels more suited at its relaxed state, below 3,500 rpm. When being pushed out of its comfort zone, it felt coarse and unexciting to hear, but I doubt owners will do that often anyway.

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Great effort in putting together a well built cabin. But I have some quips about the aircon outlets which blow directly at 3-9 o clock steering holding position.

For RM 173,905.10 on the road price with insurance, I would expect the interior to exude luxury feel or at least at par with its nearest competitors (Volkswagen Passat CKD selling at RM 170,888). Certain plastic material used on the dashboard could have a more premium touch to it. Strangely too, the door unlock switch, side mirror adjuster, fuel and boot latch on the driver’s door panel are not lit up, leaving me fumbling for it at night. Despite these minor inconveniences, the Sonata is properly put together with minimal gap between panels. Boot space, rear legroom and the rear passengers’ headroom are ample, given that it adopts a sloping, sporty coupe design on a 4 door saloon/sedan car. The 2.4 Premium spec is loaded with features that may eclipsed its competitors. Panaromic sunroof which is slide-able and tilt-able is standard. The driver seat gets an 8-way adjustable electric seats while the front passenger seat is also electrically adjustable but 4-way only.

First for this segment is the Lukas system, a black box system which is developed in Korea. There are 2 modes of recording – continuous and upon detection of sudden vehicle stop, which the last 10 seconds prior and 20 seconds after recording will be stored at a separate section of the SD card. The supplied 8Gb SD card is good enough to record up to 4 hours of video, after which, the new data will overwrite the old one. It also has GPS built in to track the route and speed, which will give you a lot of evidence should any untoward incident happens. By downloading a free software from Lukas, you’re able to superimpose the route track onto Google Map. How nifty!

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The same however cannot be said for the head unit, which is an aftermarket unit. It has plenty of features – iPod/iPhone compatible, steering controls, Bluetooth, DVD, USB connectivity, reverse camera and satellite navigation. The user interface for satellite navigation is not as intuitive as Garmin and took me quite some time to get used to.

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The rear lights are really bright at night!

The Sonata was one of the very first few cars that churned out under the pen of Peter Schreyer that looks desirable. It was launched in the year 2010 and after 3 years, it has been given a mild facelift. At the front is a more prominent grille, wider and lower air duct, while at the rear, the lights have been revised for a more elegant look. Dimension wise remained unchanged at 4,820 mm x 1,835 mm x 1,470 mm (L x W x H). Comparatively  Volkswagen Passat’s dimension is 4,769 mm x 1,820 mm x 1,470 mm.

Major body panels remained unchanged, including the chrome lines that runs from the end of the front headlights on the fenders and ends at the quarter of the rear glass, that gives it a more outstanding look. Right amount of creases at the side, that runs through the door handles, before finishing at the rear lights give the Sonata more personality and enhances a sportier image.

Sonata_05

Althought the 18″ alloys make the Sonata looks more poised, it would be a nightmare to wash.

The ride feels composed at highway speed driving. Wind noise is well kept out until about 140 km/h, while tyre noise is pretty isolated until about 110 km/h. I suspect that this is due to the 225 / 45 / R18 Kumho tyres fitted as standard. I think that if quieter tyres were to be fitted, the Sonata would have been a very pleasant place to be in at speed slightly above the national speed limit. Body roll is kept to a minimum, thanks to the 18″ alloys and also sport suspension fitted only to the 2.4. However, it felt jittery at times when going through uneven roads.

The steering is light and vague, which is brilliant for parking or at city driving. I guess that 95% of the time, these 2 areas are where the Sonata spent time at, rather than at spirited driving.

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Yes, I have said it numerous times, but Korean cars are really improving by leaps and bounds.

You know that a car manufacturer has made something right, when crowd at Jonker Walk turn their head and look at the Sonata. The exterior still look quite fresh, despite that it was only launched in the year 2010. We know Korean cars of the past, look outdated the moment you have a global launch. Certain things, like how to make plastics look good and engine refinement, are still probably a generation behind the Japanese, but the Koreans are getting there. Quick.

I could not help but to compare the Sonata 2.4 to the Volkswagen Passat 1.8 due to the close pricing, while the Toyota Camry 2.5 is at least RM 10k more expensive than both. In most areas, the Passat 1.8 did better but there is something about the Sonata that offers those little and pleasant surprises.

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About Jack Lee

Jack Lee is an unqualified petrol head (some say, to be one, you have to own an Alfa Romeo) who is disappointed with cars which are getting more and more electronics and the lack of interest in cars shown by today's youths in general. He owns an almost 20 year car from Germany, which has almost 50:50 weight distribution, 3 pedals (manual, FTW!) and believes that everyone should spin at the last corner of Sepang circuit at least once in their life. He also holds the distinction in TCG as the person with the lightest right foot, of course, when compared with his colleagues' mutated cast iron right foot.

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