The all-new 2014 Hyundai Sonata has been revealed ahead of going on sale in Australia in the second half of the year.
Hyundai's all-new mid-size model boasts a more conservative appearance than the polarising i45, with a bold new hexagonal grille and smoother, less fussy surface finishing than before. There are chrome accents around the fog lights and the carry-over strip from the headlights to the glasshouse.
The Sonata is longer and wider than the car it replaces (the i45 that was dumped from local sale in early 2013), measuring 4855mm long, 1865mm wide and 1475mm tall. Its wheelbase is 2805mm, a 10mm increase on the last model that is designed to improve interior space and assist ride stability.
The new Sonata is built upon an updated architecture that has been strengthened for better rigidity. As a result of the improved structure and "significant changes to the front and rear suspension" including new dual lower suspension rear arms, Hyundai claims it has "set a new standard for ride in a mid-size sedan" with the new model having been tested in Europe (at the Nurburgring) and the US (Mojave Proving Ground) as a move to "satisfy the diverse needs of its global audience".
The previous model's steering was one of its sorest points, and Hyundai claims it has improved the electric steering system with a bigger processor and stiffer steering column. The car will come with Hyundai's Drive Mode Select system to alter the feel of the steering.
Under the bonnet, the new-generation Sonata will be offered with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 123kW of power and 201Nm of torque, the same powerplant used in the i40 range, while a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with 142kW and 247Nm is also offered. Local engine options are yet to be revealed. Transmission options include a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic - there's no mention from Hyundai about the hotly-rumoured seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Inside, the Sonata brings a range of technologies that have flowed down from the premium-focused Genesis sedan, as part of what Hyundai labels "the democratisation of new technologies" and improved levels of noise, vibration and harshness. The interior looks decidedly more upmarket than anything else currently sold here by Hyundai, with more angular dashboard styling and driver-centric ergonomics. Safety systems that will be available on the new Sonata includes radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a lane departure warning system, while convenience features new to the Sonata include heated rear seats, an electronic park brake, LED lighting and a "hands-free smart" boot.
Local pricing and specification details for the all-new Hyundai Sonata are still a few months away, but it will be sold alongside the European-designed i40 in a two-pronged mid-size offering, taking on cars such as the Toyota Camry and Mazda 6. The Sonata is a larger car than the i40 but is tipped to be slightly cheaper, starting below the i40's $29,990 entry-level price.
Click the Photos tab above for more images on the all-new Hyundai Sonata.