When the senior journos here at CarAdvice informed us that we had secured the 2015 Hyundai Sonata as our latest long-termer, I have to admit that I did not sprint over to the key bowl and beg for a drive.
My limited imagination has always struggled to see where mid-sized sedans have a place within the spectrum of Australian car buyers’ needs or wants.
With permission to test the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Premium over a full week, I was keen to sample its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine around town on the daily commute, and eager to see how my wife and I would handle a 4.85-metre-long sedan around the narrow streets of Sydney’s inner west. It’s big – just 10cm shorter than a Ford Falcon.
From the outside, it’s hard to imagine that the Sonata is a sibling of the i40. Unlike the i40’s incredibly literal use of Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design, the Sonata’s lines appear a more mature and sophisticated application of the design mantra.
Good looking or not, over the past few years sedans have rapidly lost their appeal with the Australian car buying public. But after spending seven days and nights in the Sonata it became apparent why there was once a deep love affair with this body shape.
Nowhere is it more obvious than when you sit in the back of the Sonata. It’s roomy. Impressively roomy, in fact: three teenagers would fit comfortably along the back pew if a buyer had this car in mind for their family.
At just over 190 centimetres tall, I tend to over-index my attention to driver cabin space and again the Sonata matches the back cabin with more than ample volume.
Perhaps more importantly, it feels instantly like you’re not driving Hyundais of many years past.
The leather seats are comfortable and easy to settle into – in fact, they may be a little too easy. One of my only criticisms is if you do get too relaxed there is a noticeable absence of top-grade collision avoidance technology. We’ve been told that this is coming later on and will be a welcome addition as in my opinion it should be standard in a $40,000-plus family sedan.
While there are not active safety aids yet, there is a notable list of standard inclusions on the Sonata Premium, such as 18-inch alloy wheels, a ‘class-above’ 8.0-inch touchscreen media system, heated and ventilated leather seats (which of course the wife was addicted to on the cold wintery nights) and a clear reverse-view camera backed by front and rear parking sensors.
We both agreed that this was a car we were more than happy to spend our daily traffic grind in.
There’s extensive construction work being completed adjacent to our house, and the street resembles a pot-holed mess thanks to months of heavy machinery and trucks being driven up and down. We therefore had the perfect testing ground for the Sonata’s locally tuned suspension and it absorbed the foot-wide divots with magnificent, gliding ease. Having taken a raft of other cars down this road the Sonata was genuinely the only car that didn’t result in a full on head-banging session (which, as other tall people can attest to, can happen over sharp bumps in some vehicles). So, in terms of absorbing road acne it’s a resounding “well done” to Hyundai.
With 180kW and 350Nm at its disposal, it’s fair to say that this mid-sized family hauler is no slouch either. Throughout the week and with quick lane-swapping mandatory, the engine’s surges of power were delivered with little effort or force. On more open roads the turbo thrust was pleasingly energetic.
Our Saturday in the Sonata saw us ferrying some friends around at a wedding between the church and reception. They all remarked that from the outside this did not look like the standard Hyundai they were used to. That’s testament to a clear focus from Hyundai’s design team to present a more cultured look with an overall more refined profile.
So, after a week with the latest 2015 Hyundai Sonata Premium my wife and I have politely asked the head honchos if we can take it on a proper weekender to the NSW wine region of Orange so we can fill up its 510-litre boot with Shiraz and take on the Blue Mountains’ bends and winds.
Stay tuned for our third long term update to see how this family sedan would manage more than a couple of hundred kilometres in the Australian countryside.
Christian Clark is CarAdvice's commercial director.
Click the Photos tab above for more images by Glen Sullivan.
Hyundai Sonata Premium
Date acquired: March 2015
Odometer reading: 8480km
Travel this update: 2760km
Consumption this update: 12.1L/100km