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It’s the design. They’re the real and most obvious differences between the current Hyundai Sonata and the past – it carries a much more cleaner look than the previous model and looks just as neat as its closest rivals. The seventh generation you see here has been in production since 2014 and has been on sale since, which it shares the same design language with the second generation Genesis flagship luxury saloon with added refinement and dimensions.

Comparing with the sixth generation, the seventh has grown in size quite a bit, and it comes to no surprise that the space inside is vast considering that it’s one of the widest in the segment boasting 1,865mm in width and its wheelbase of 2,805mm – second behind the Mazda6 – does allow plenty of breathing room length wise for the occupants inside.

The Sonata’s interior is clad with high-grade materials, which is not only pleasing to the eye, but it also feels good to the touch and still feels relevant for a car that is almost three years old to date. And thanks to its Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) chassis with increased use of structural adhesives that is ten times more over the previous model making the Sonata’s torsional and bending stiffness increased 35% higher than the outgoing model.

All of its seats are clad in leather, which offers occupants plenty of comfort, and for the front occupants, plenty of lateral support. For the driver, the Sonata offers more options to suit everyone with its 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat.

Most of the control buttons in the Sonata are large and chunky which is hard to miss especially when full attention is on the road ahead. The steering controls buttons are clear and easy to understand of what their functions are. The signal and wiper stalks are easy to reach and tactile to operate. Also it’s easy to feel on what position they are in without having to glance at them while driving.

Rear occupants can bask in the Sonata’s generous head and legroom even with the front seats pulled all the way back. Both rear passenger gets air conditioning, and able to charge their smart devices with a single 12V power socket. With that said, accessibility in and out of the rear of the car is easy and unobstructed.

Speaking of accessibility, the Sonata’s boot lid’s opening may appear small, but it’s more than meets the eyes, especially when the lid goes up automatically thanks to its Smart Trunk feature. It offers a wide opening making it easy to stow large bulky objects into its 510-litre boot space.

With such a roomy interior, blind spots is definitely not an issue as well, where unlike most its rivals in the segment, where the Sonata comes with a quarter glass that not only allows more light in, but allows the driver to have a quick peek to make sure nothing is hiding in their blind spot. And in addition to that, this gives the Sonata a coupe-like appearance when viewed on the side.

When it comes to D-Segment saloons’ aesthetics, the same can be said for suits, where the subtlest measurement discrepancies can make or break a good looking and fitting suit. The chrome garnish which starts in its headlights spans all the way to the quarter window at the rear to merge with the chrome garnish around its windows, which emphasises the Sonata’s coupe-like silhouette.

Besides the windows, you can find chrome on its front grille, daytime running lamps and the Sonata’s rear exhaust tip. The Sonata you see here in pictures is the Elegance trim, which the headlights are projector halogen types shared with the base Elegance B trim. At the rear, you can find LED combination tail lamps with a fog lamp located at the bottom middle of the rear bumper.

Powering the Sonata is a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with an output of 152hp at 6,200 rpm and 194 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. It’s able to pull the 1,475kg saloon from 0 to 100 in 11.1 seconds and to a top speed of 200 km/h as tested.

The six-speed automatic gearbox provides progressive and seamless transfer of drive to its front wheels, with each gearshift smooth and seamless with adequate gear ratios complementing the engine’s output. Driving wise, the Sonata’s throttle is sensitive but allows plenty of control, which makes it easy to control how fast you need to drive depending if you’re launching from the traffic lights or trying to drive economically.

Fuel consumption wise, the lowest recorded while tested is 6.5 l/100km (15.6 km/l) on highways and 7.4 l/100km (13.5 km/l) urban-extra. The biggest contributor to its low fuel consumption is aerodynamically optimised flat underbody, which brings the Sonata’s aerodynamic coefficient to a low Cd. 0.27.

The Sonata underbody is suspended from the ground with a pair of McPherson strut suspension at the front and Multi-Link suspension at the rear. Together with its stiff AHSS chassis, the Sonata is able to offer plenty of comfort while driving on undulating and rough road surfaces.

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Although weighing close to 1.5-tonnes, the Sonata feels solid and weighty which, I would go as far as to mention that it felt uncanny to the first-generation Porsche Panamera in terms of its unique ride characteristics and its weighted yet direct steering feel.

With that said, it handles competently through corners where it gives the driver a progressive feedback through the steering wheel. With stability control switched off, the Sonata shows off its true colours; its front end tucks into corners progressively with the rear end feeling compliant with plenty of grip.

To sum things up, if you want something different than the Japanese and German D-segment saloons, you have already found it. The Hyundai Sonata not only looks pretty, but also comes with loads of standard equipment with vast amounts of occupant space. Price wise, it’s equally competitive to its rivals, on top of that, it comes with a five-year full manufacturer warranty.

Hyundai Malaysia is also offering an eight-year or 300,000km warranty (whichever comes first) for the Sonata’s engine and transmission, however it’s not transferable to the subsequent owner when you sell the car away. In a nutshell, this is a very capable car and offers more than what most people perceive. If you do shop for a car based on its brand and resale value, you’re going to miss out on something that is actually very good.

[Bryan Au]

Good
It’s comfortable, spacious, and provides occupants and drivers a premium atmosphere without busting the bank.

No Good
The centre console could do better with additional compartments.

Technical Specifications
Hyundai Sonata Nu 2.0 MPi Elegance
Price Msia:
RM151,915.73
Engine: 1,999cc in-line four cylinder
Power: 152 hp
Torque:
194 Nm
Fuel Economy: 6.5 l/100km (15.6 km/l)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic transmission

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