Get a load of the new Hyundai Sonata! The new one is no bland yet practical three-box sedan, but rather a sleek 'four-door coupe' in the mould of Volkswagen's Arteon.
This is the eighth-generation model to wear the name, and returns the moniker to the sort of overtly design-led direction embodied by the long-gone i45.
With sedan sales the world over losing ground to SUVs, it makes sense for brands to make their boot-toting staples slicker, in order to position them as more 'premium' products.
As fans of the brand may note, the new Sonata takes its inspiration from the sexy Le Fil Rouge concept, which debuted at the 2018 Geneva motor show.
The new model sits 30mm lower than before and is 25mm wider. The wheelbase and overall length are up by 35mm and 45mm respectively.
The press release accompanying the pictures is pretty light on details, but heavy on stylistic buzzwords and phrases like 'Sensuous Sportiness' and 'Digital Pulse Cascading Grille'.
"Sonata celebrates innovative coupe-like silhouette,” said head of the Hyundai Design Centre Sang Yup Lee.
“A short overhang, sloping roofline and low deck lid create a balanced feel, and Hyundai’s signature chrome accent now goes all the way into the hood, making it look even longer. It also has LED lighting built in. "
The overall look has layered body lines down the side, and a mix of convex and concave forms to lend character. The front is bold and the bonnet demarcated, and bordered by a chrome strip. The side silhouette is low and lean like an Audi A5 or said Arteon. The boot appears to be sedan-like, and the tail lights remind one of a Honda Civic and Volvo S90 to some degree.
There's new "state-of-the-art lighting technology" too. These 'Hidden Lighting Lamps' "appear to be of a chromic material when switched off and become dramatically lit when turned on," Hyundai reckons. This light architecture was initially revealed on Hyundai’s HDC-2 concept car at the Busan Motor Show in June last year.
Inside, ambient mood lighting illuminates the dash and doors. Beyond this, the instrument panel looks great, with a lower and more driver-focused dash, a big centre screen, a novel gear shifter, and what appear to be rich leather seats like those on the new Santa Fe, itself bearing quite an upmarket interior.
"The recognisable winged shape is inspired by a Stealth aircraft," a bold Hyundai reckons. Righto guys.
"This shape almost levitates or floats when looked at, and this philosophy carries into the long armrests. Satin chrome accents enhance this effect. Designers compressed the height of the dashboard and HVAC vents as much as possible to aid the light-weight feeling, while modern, light fabric colours and leathers provide a fresh and freeing ambience for the driver," it goes on.
One nice touch are the lack of parting lines on the two centre displays, which have Audi A7-style capacitive touch buttons. That new steering wheel has been penned to "look like an aircraft yoke".
In terms of platforms and engines, the company hasn't said much. The 2.4-litre atmo and 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engines may remain, and both hybrid and PHEV versions are almost sure-things internationally at least. Presuming this one remains FWD, the Kia Stinger and Genesis G70's longitudinal layouts would likely rule out anything hotter in the Sonata family. Time will tell.
The next-generation Sonata will launch in Australia in the second half of 2019, according to its local head of PR Guide Schenken. You can expect the requisite local suspension tuning to happen soon.
The current Sonata range is priced between $30,990 and $45,490. We imagine this new one might move somewhat upmarket, given the outgoing model is low-volume even when discounted.