The midsize car market is not really setting sales on fire in this country at the moment but as local production of large cars stop in a few years can the midsize market jump up to take up some of the slack. I mean these days midsize cars are not what they were years ago and some of them are bordering on the large car territory as it is.
Hyundai have just released there all new Sonata into in the midsize market and from my week in it I think it can offer an alternative for somebody wanting a decent sized family car and want to buck the trend and not buy an SUV.
From the outside the Sonata looks good with a nicely stylised front end with big chrome grill, follow the stylish lines along the size to the rear and tail end treatment looks very well blended in, the nice looking 17inch alloy rims complete the package.
Slipping behind the steering wheel and the first thing that caught my eye was that it was more spacious then I expected, I mean it does have quite the room of a large car but it seems very spacious for a mid sizer.
The steering wheel is comfortable to hold and has buttons for the cruise control, trip metre, audio and hands free for your phone which means you hardly have to take your hands off the wheel for anything.
The instruments are well set out and the white back lighting means it’s easy to read in any light, in between the dials is an TFT screen which display various info from the computer including distance to empty, average fuel consumption, average vehicle speed, elapsed time and instant fuel economy as well as a digital speedo.
The dash is not overly exciting but it seems to suit the interior perfect and everything is set out well and extremely functional all the controls are easily reached without stretching from the average driving position.
The only thing that does look out of place is the 4.3inch touch screen for the infotainment system, it looks small and out of place in the dash but this is the entry level Active model higher models in the range get the 8inch touch which I’m sure will look much better.
The cloth seats are comfortable but could do with a touch more support when cornering but I don’t see most people being put off or actually driving it spiritedly enough to notice.
Front and rear legroom is great even my kids commented on how much room they had for the size of the car, I sat in the back seat behind the drivers and my knees weren’t near the back of the seat something I couldn’t say about other cars I’ve driven, Boot space is very adequate and does increase to 510L thanks to the 60/40 split fold rear seat.
Under the bonnet the Active model comes with a naturally aspirated 2.4L 4cyl direct injected engine that produces 138kw and 241nm of torque.
Like most cars in it’s class the Active model is not a fire brand off the mark the 2.4L will easily keep with traffic and cruise effortlessly cruise at the highway speed limit, but I did wish for some more torque when faced with starting off at the bottom of some of steep hills I face on my regular commute. Other models in the range get the turbo 2.0L engine with 180kw which I think would suit my commute better and I cant wait to test the Elite model in a few weeks time.
Fuel economy wise I found the Sonata to be rather good I ended up finishing my week averaging 10.5L/100km which is pretty much what I got in the much smaller Kia Rio earlier on this year and a fraction better than the bigger Calais V wagon. It does have handy feature when you get turn the car off which shows you how many km you did on that specific trip and your average fuel economy and quite a number of times I saw my economy around the 9.8 and 9.9L/100km for my trip to work.
Didn’t get to really do any long freeway driving but I did see figures in the 6’s and 7’s for the brief trips I did do.
Backing the 2.4L engine is a 6 speed auto, the shifts are smooth and it seems to be well matched to the engine in most circumstances. It does have a sport mode in case you want shift gears yourself which seemed to work well but it seem to really suit the nature of the car. So I preferred to just sit back and let it do its job for me.
On the road I found the Sonata rode extremely well and it seemed to soak up most bumps and didn’t transmit a lot of vibration into the cabin.
Noise levels weren’t bad but there was a bit of noise transferred into the cabin over rougher b grade road surfaces you find it Sydney.
There is a touch of lean and push mid corner but that only reared its head when I was corner a bit faster than most drivers will.
The steering feel was ok and there was a decent amount of weigh to it, but I would have liked a little more sharpness especially on turn in but again that’s just a personal preference and most drivers won’t notice it at all.
But all in all the steering is really suited to what this car should be used for a decent cruiser to comfortably drive around in, I would of liked a bit more sharpness but really the car is not meant to take pole at Bathurst so the steering was ok.
The Sonata comes with switch able 3 driving modes which lets you tailor the car to suit your driving mood. Eco mood as it would suggest is the best mode to save fuel and it does make a difference on trips most of the sub 10L/100km figures I received were in eco mode. It did feel like you had to put your foot more off the mark in eco mood so I spent most of the driving in normal mode which offered a good mix of responsiveness and fuel economy.
Safety wise the Sonata has received a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and features ABS, ESC, 6 airbags, it gets bonus points for having front and rear parking sensors and gets even more bonus points for having a rear view camera. It does take a little bit getting use to looking at it such a small screen but the clarity of the camera picture is really good which makes it easy to reverse park.
After a week I really liked the Sonata Active after my week in it in terms of a comfortable family car it really fits it’s brief perfectly, it has plenty of room, it’s comfortable to drive and ride in, can return reasonable economy and is chock full of safety features.
The only things I found as a downside was although the engine seemed very willing and can easily keep up with traffic, can suffer a little bit from starting at the bottom of a hill specially when it’s in an 80kph zone like they are on my commute which sometimes means using more right foot than you want. The other is the small size of the touch screen it looks really out place and seems to get a bit lost in the centre. Both problems though I think will be fixed in higher models in the range.
Never the less in a sea of brown which is the midsize car market the Sonata does offer a touch of something else is I think you would be a touch silly not to have it on your list if you were shopping for a new family car. The plus side to that is it’s backed by Hyundai’s excellent 5yrs unlimted km factory warranty and fixed price servicing.
Hyundai Sonata Active
Engine: 2.4 GDi Petrol
Transmission: 6 Speed Automatic
Price: From $29,990