No, not the car. The car is not incredible. It is OK, don’t get me wrong, but what’s incredible is Hyundai’s relentless innovation drive. Where nigh every other car company changes models every 7 years, they do it every 5. That means that for every two cycles of virtually any car, Hyundai has had 3:
|MODEL||Launch Year||New model every (years)|
|Toyota Camry||1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2013, 2017||5~6|
|Mercedes S Class||1972, 1980, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2013||~7|
|Volkswagen Golf||1974, 1983, 1991, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2019||6|
|Mitsubishi Pajero||1982, 1991, 1999, 2006||8 but... same model for 14 years now...|
|Rentault Megane||1995, 2002, 2009, 2016||7|
|Ford Mondeo||1992, 2000, 2007, 2014||7|
|Audi A6||1994, 1997, 2004, 2011, 2018||7|
|BMW 3-Series||1973, 1982, 1990, 1997, 2004,2011, 2018||7|
|Hyundai Elantra||1990, 1995, 2000, 2006, 2011, 2016, 2020||5|
|Hyundai Sonata||1985, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2020||5|
With few exceptions, brands tend to extend the life of the production line until its cost is well recovered. But Hyundai has that capped at 5 years. And their car is kinda competitive in price. And they are not going bankrupt. How are they doing it?
Shortening the commercial lifespan of a model is a rather expensive proposition. But one that, if ready to undertake the stress on designers, engineers, supply chain and ancillary industries, allows for a much faster evolution and arrival to market of new ideas. And thus, while the first Sonata was meh!, this one is wow!
So here we are, and as per schedule, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is coming up. And it is a good one. Much, very, nicely, bigly good one.
All new. All better. In everything.
To start with, their launch comes with a Hybrid. One that reaches nearly 1,000km per tank. Imagine that. The gas station visit goes from weekly/bi-weekly to monthly. I am all for the environment as long as it’s not too hard, and the Sonata makes it real easy with this argument. Greasy hands, queuing under the sun, nervously watching the clock tick relentlessly towards my next appointment while the guy three cars before me at the pump crawls back from the store with a bag of sweet peanuts and a can of Mountain Bulletizer™ is an experience I’d rather have less often.
The 2020 Sonata Hybrid’s exclusive styling has a slippery 0.24 drag coefficient, thanks to a unique cross-hole grille with active air flaps, a rear spoiler and aerodynamic alloy wheels. Hyundai Motor’s Solar Roof System makes its debut on the Sonata Hybrid. This system recharges the hybrid battery while preventing unnecessary battery discharge when the car is off. SRS can increase the driving range by a couple of miles after 6 hours of charging. Engineers also applied Active Shift Control technology to control the electric motor, aligning it with the rotational speeds of the engine and transmission, reducing gear-shifting times by 30%. This synchronization not only improves the Sonata Hybrid’s acceleration and fuel economy but also improves the durability of the transmission by minimizing friction during shifts.
Front wheel with some punch
Equipped with a Smartstream G2.0 GDi HEV engine and a 6-speed hybrid automatic transmission. The engine’s power output is 150 horsepower and 185Nm of torque. The car’s electric motor delivers power output of 39 kW (51 HP) and maximum torque of 210Nm of torque. Combined system power output is 192 HP and estimated fuel economy numbers round the 4.3 l/100 km for the Blue trim. After testing the RAV4 and the Camry, both with a fuel pump and a wallet, we assess this figure as credible.
The old guard still remembers the failed, quirky and all-round mistake the Fisker Karma ever was, but if you still have it in your memory, it had solar panels on the roof. Granted they gave you 2km of range a week, but the principle and the intention was what mattered. The new Sonata has taken up on the idea and their solar panels will charge the batteries at a rate of 205W per hour. In turn these will power you for up to 3km per day. Or a little over 1,000km per year. Once more, another gas station visit that does not make it into your calendar. Glorious.
Acronym time. The new HDK (Hyundai Digital Key) uses a mobile app, NFC (Near Field Communication) and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technologies to allow the NS (New Sonata) to be USD (Unlocked, Started and Driven) without a physical key, via SP (Smart Phone). You can also SS (Securely Share) the VK (Virtual Key) with FaF (Family and Friends). Acronyms save time.
Nerds can even set different functions for each key, limiting duration of vehicle use and a variety of other features for services like valet or workshops. No iPhone though. Only Android phones will do.
Hyundai became a viral sensation when they put Buddy Joe to work as a robot-car leader. The car was a Genesis, it was 5 years ago. And all those technologies are now in the Sonata. Not suggesting it drives itself, but it’s something rarely found in cars at this price point.
And talking price, when it hits the showrooms, the Sonata starts at ~28,000 USD and finishes right above 35,000 USD. Seriously competitive. Seriously good. Seriously desirable. Seriously.
|Engine||2.0 l 16-vale inline 4-Cylinder|