Hyundai Motors India Limited are a busy lot these days. Not only were they partnering the IPL but also were immersed in the many launches which the company has planned for its various models in India. The first one off the block was the all new “Fluidic Verna”. Now many of you must have wondered what exactly is the Fluidic language which Hyundai Motors seems to speak these days. It is the design language and a new one at that. It seems that the days of Hyundai copying Koreans, the British and also the Germans have ended or it seems so. Which brings me back to the subject of the day, the Hyundai Sonata Transform. How much of a transformation it is from the Embera it replaced is yet to be seen. It seems that we are a bit too old to review the Hyundai Sonata Transform. The primary reason being that this car is due for a replacement any time soon. However since the thought crossed our mind that we haven’t reviewed it or even test driven it made us realize that we need to do it.
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As far as the looks for the Hyundai Sonata Transform in India goes, its better than that of the previous gen one. However many would swear by the looks of the Jaguar imitating Sonata and still say that it was an unadulterated version of the Sonata. The new version has chrome around its grille which lend it an American flavor. Actually so, this car is more American than Korean and this is displayed in its overall stance. However the new one or rather the old generation one is much of an understated car. It not only gets projector type lamps as standard but it also gets a bigger front bumper coupled with a new set of alloys. Wait till the all new Sonata or IX45 comes in. This Sonata loses out on the crests and troughs or even the creases that we are used to seeing on a car. It comes with body colored parking sensors in the front bumper as also on the rear. In pictures, the Sonata may look small however in reality, it is much bigger. The new alloy wheels house the 215/60 R-16 tyre section which doesn’t look as chunky as the ones on its competitors namely the Jetta or even the Laura. The rear portion is nothing like what Indians have seen in its times and is more on the chunky side keeping with the American trend of the bigger it is, the better it would be. What Hyundai India have done is to give the Sonata twin tail pipes which project its American fashion sense and also the fact that this is a sporty car after all. The body colored bumpers towards the rear are also a revised lot with cars in this category not having to adhere to the under 4 meter mark and stuff.
A sea change from that of the previous Embera, the Hyundai Sonata Transform in India gets an all beige interiors with wooden trim thrown around. Typical Hyundai fashion. The steering wheel now boasts of having audio controls to it. Opening the doors make one realize that this is no flimsy Korean like the first generation Sonata and is a solidly built car. Unfortunately if you are used to German cars, then the Sonata would seem too boring. Closing the doors would lead you to eventually build up your biceps. The outside rear view mirrors are electrically retractable with defoggers in them. The interior rear view mirror gets an auto dimming function to it as well. The front seats are not that sports type huggers which would automatically welcome you to the lap of luxury but moreso are sofa couches which would want you to laze around in them like you would on a Sunday afternoon. 8 way powered front driver’s seat ensures that finding a comfortable driving position isn’t a chore. There are tad too many cubby holes for a luxury liner of a car. The glove box is also a huge affair. It makes sense to carry forward all the daily knip knacks. Dealers are also ready to throw in additional mats along with other goodies to move stocks of this big Hyundai from their show rooms. We will come to that a bit later on. The stock music system sounds good and along with its USB and AUX ports adds a nice and practical touch. The steering wheel however with its half leather and half wood configuration doesn’t seem too good. The meter dials are all too simple and everything has a blue backlighting. This blue color also forms the basis of the Hyundai’s “Fluidic Concept” design language. It seems that this Sonata started the Fluidic Design theme for Hyundai Motors world wide.
The rear seats are the actual sofas where most of the owners would be found lounging in. It has that good backrest angle where most owners can lounge in and enjoy the ride. The rear AC vents are missing though and Hyundai has done enough in providing a remote control for the music system for the rear seat passengers. The central arm rest also has cup holders in it. Though the floor hump isn’t as flat as the Accord, seating for three isn’t a problem with even the tallest of the passengers finding their comfort inside this cabin. Boot space is in the regions of 500 liters and the 60:40 split rear seats add to the convenience. Not only does this allow longer objects to be carried easily but also allows for more flexibility. The rear seatbelts are also height adjustable.
Handling and ride quality
All the Sonata iterations even in the US are known to have a comfy ride and soggy handling. In India, it is no different with the Sonata Transform showing an aversion to handling. Like predicted earlier, the Sonata Transform’s hydraulic steering wheel is very easy to use in the city but on the highway it remains devoid of feel. There is no feedback from the steering wheel as well. The car has been set up on the softer side and more often than not, if one isn’t careful, then the car’s chin would get grounded on big speed breakers. This big Hyundai however absorbs everything in its stride. Throw any pothole or bump in its path and the Hyundai dispatches them with aplomb. However show it some twisties and the Hyundai would just cover its face in its long expanse and meekly take baby steps. Infact it induces so much roll that the passengers would eventually have to puke their lunch out. Hyundai India wants the Sonata to be a chauffer driven car and hence has ensured that the back seat comfort is of prime importance. NVH on the petrol motor eerily is a bit more than that on the fabulous diesel motor. Road noise however is prevalent in both the variants.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Hyundai Sonata Transform in India comes with two engine options and a variety of 3 transmission options. The more obvious choice, the 2.0 liter diesel engine is a CRDI unit and Hyundai India have been known to make CRDI engines from quite a long time with success. This 2.0 liter engine was given some new breathing technique due to which it now makes 148 Bhp of peak power and a huge 320 Nm of torque. The transmission options are the 4 speed auto and the 6 speed manual. In both the transmission options, the Hyundai Sonata Transform achieves the quarter mile flag pole in just under 14 seconds. Both the options carry the car past 180 kmph speeds. The 2.4 liter petrol unit is the same unit which is available as the base variant for the US markets. It makes 175 Bhp of power and 234 Nm is the peak torque. This engine gets a 5 speed transmission. It achieves the 0-100 lap timing in only 12 seconds while top speed is just shy off the 200 kmph mark. Brakes work fantastically for both the petrol and diesel models. However towards the top of the pedal travel, some slack is definitely experienced. There are also various braking aids to take care of the braking duties from the all wheel discs. ABS, EBD and traction, to name a few. Fuel efficiency from such a big sedan is also commendable with the diesel motor returning an overall 13.2 kmpl while the petrol motor turns in 8.8 kmpl overall. Safety features are similar to what the others in its class offer with 4 air bags, seat belts and also a collapsible steering column.
The Hyundai Sonata Transform in India is an ignored product with its more affluent rivals like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and also the Skoda Superb now spoiling the party for it. The Sonata is a spacious and reasonably feature rich toy. It also has a choice of petrol and diesel motors, which apart from the Skoda Superb none of the other competitors offer. However the downsides are its unrefined automatic gearboxes, the wayward handling and also the lack of snob factor. All these may be rectified with the advent of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata with its fluidic design coming to India. Hyundai dealers are offering many discounts and some include the usual mud flaps, coating whereas some of the more innovative ones are the free services for the entire 4 years warranty. Hyundai offer a 4 years or 80k kilometers whichever is earlier warranty. This might just be the right time to pick up a Sonata if you can live with a model which is going to be replaced soon. Hyundai service centers are dime a dozen in India and it would be a cakewalk to maintain this Hyundai compared to its competition. The Hyundai Sonata Transform price in India starts from Rs 14.5 lakhs for the manual petrol variant while the diesel manual is available for Rs 15.6 lakhs in its manual avatar. The top of the line diesel automatic is available for a lakh more. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.