Hyundai has unveiled its all-new Sonata sedan in its home market this week, ahead of a global premiere at next month’s New York Auto Show.
Today’s reveal follows the release of a telling teaser image earlier this month, which was followed almost immediately by a set of show-all spy photos.
On the styling front, the new Sonata’s design takes its cues from the company’s new Genesis sedan, revealed late last year.
Up front is a broad new grille and long headlights, all inspired by the Genesis - and perhaps also the big new Santa Fe SUV.
Through the profile, the new Sonata wears a flowing roofline and a tall powerful character line, introducing both a new look and an evolution of the i45’s revolutionary (for Hyundai) looks.
The new Sonata is also larger than its predecessor, measuring 35mm longer and 30mm wider, with a 20mm longer wheelbase.
In the cabin, Hyundai promises a more premium feel for the new Sonata, using higher-grade materials, soft-touch surfaces, leather and metal accents, and offering advanced new technologies.
The company also promises dramatically improved Noise/Vibration/Harshness qualities, thanks to new construction materials, methods and significantly upgraded suspension (MacPherson up front, Multi-link at the rear).
All of this suggests that the midsized sedan could enter above, or even replace, Hyundai Australia’s i40 sedan when it returns in 2015.
Ironically, the i40’s Australian debut in 2012, as a more premium offering, signalled the end of local sales for the i45.
Speaking with TMR, Hyundai Australia’s Guido Schenken could not confirm plans for the i40 or precisely how the new Sonata will be positioned.
"We're still reviewing the case for both models at this point," Mr Schenken said. "Obviously the i40 has the advantage of being available in Tourer wagon form, and there's also the fact that it can also be had with a diesel engine".
The outgoing Sonata/i45 was not offered with a diesel engine, thanks largely to its development and production being focused on markets with little love for diesels.
In Korea and the US, Hyundai instead offered the petrol-electric Sonata Hybrid, although this model's exclusive left-hand-drive production kept it from being considered for Australia.
Mr Schenken said that at this point, it is unclear if the new model will be offered with a diesel, as a hybrid model would again be likely.
He could not confirm if the next hybrid model would be offered here (where it would compete with Toyota's Camry Hybrid), noting that it is too early to know full details of the Australian model range.
Hyundai’s global CEO, Choong Ho Kim, said at today’s unveiling that the Sonata has played a key role in the company’s international success over the past decade.
“Hyundai Motor has been pursuing qualitative growth, providing innovative experiences and values to our customers, and the all-new Sonata will be at the center of these efforts,” Mr Kim said.
Depending on the model and market, the new Sonata’s features include 3.8 to 8.0 inch colour touch displays, full phone and entertainment connectivity, power-adjusted and heated/cooled seats, an electric rear window blind and rear side curtain blinds, a panoramic sunroof, and an automatic key proximity-based boot lid.
Safety features include advanced smart cruise control, blind spot detection and lane departure warning.
In Korea, the new Sonata’s engine options will include a trio of small engines, from a 124kW 2.0 litre CVVL engine, to a 142kW 2.0 litre GDi and 111kW 2.0 litre LPi engine.
Australian specifications are still to be confirmed. The new Sonata's local launch is set for later this year, so official details will not be far away.