In the first three months of this year, Hyundai Australia has sold just 168 Sonatas, down 72.9 percent compared to the same period last year (574). The downturn reflects a shrinking segment in which the Toyota Camry (38.5 percent) and Mazda 6 (11.6 percent) hold the lion's share.
The Sonata Series II, which will be the model year 2018 (MY18), is scheduled to land in Australian dealerships in the third quarter of this year, with Hyundai Australia still working out the model range and pricing.
The current model hit Australia early in 2015, which makes the timing of the facelift rather accelerated - likely as a result of its lukewarm reception in the North American market.
The new model portrays a rather heavy facelift over the current car, seeing design elements that have become hallmarks of other recent Hyundai models such as the ‘cascading grille’ and vertical LED daytime running lights.
The headlights are now narrower and sharper while the taillight graphics have been modernised. The sports grille (on the red car in the pictures here) sees a mesh grille and unique front/rear diffuser with gloss black window trim. Hyundai Australia hopes to take the sports kit for its turbocharged variants.
The engine offerings will remain the same, with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that now comes equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission (while retaining the paddle shifters).
On the inside, the new Sonata gains a sportier-looking three-spoke steering wheel, while the switchgear has been updated with a redesigned centre instrument cluster that now sees upsized features using Piano black design elements for the new-look audio, heating and air conditioning control systems. There are also USB ports now in the second row.
The infotainment system has also been updated to an 8.0-inch unit that incorporates Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation standard across the range (including the base model, for the first time).
On the safety front, the addition of high beam assist and attention assist will be noticed. The American models will also get the blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert as standard across the range, which may hint at similar plans for Australian delivered Sonatas.
The Hyundai Sonata will maintain its current Australian-specific suspension and handling tune, which was first developed in 2014 with over 100,000km of local durability testing in metro and outback Australia.
Australia-destined Sonatas will continue to be sourced from South Korea and offer a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty.