What is it?
It's the return of the Sonata name with seventh generation of the most prominent car in Singapore. Hyundai has made big strides in dominating the roads around the world, and we can see that happening in Singapore with the fifth and sixth generation Sonatas, replacing a huge majority of Toyota Comfort taxi fleets that once ruled the roads.
Is it like a taxi?
Not at all. Compared to the predecessor, sold here as the i45, the Sonata has evolved with an entirely refined interior and modern exterior in one fell swoop. It is certainly a sharp and handsome looking thing. Inside, Hyundai moved away from the swoopy and glossy plastics of the i45 and replaced it with a less eye-arousing design with matte plastics and a simple design. It works.
Is it nice to sit in then?
With comfortable leather seats, electric adjustment for driver's seat, automatic headlamps, a good sound system with bluetooth connectivity, climate control, rear air conditioning vents, steering-mounted controls and a ton of space with a big boot for more. Most importantly, it has a premium look and feel to most of the visible surfaces. Very nice.
How's the drive?
Despite being a big and soft sedan, it engages the driver more than we expected it to be. A few speedy corners won't upset it, with very little flex and a moderately-damped shocks taking most of the bumps well. Steering is light and offers just enough communication to know what the front wheels are running over.
The 2.0 litre 'Nu' engine is a little more powerful and it's mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox, with manual override. Selectable drive modes include Eco, Normal and Sport, but we'll predict that most will see their lives spent in Eco mode as it has the most gentle acceleration and gear shift points. It's also one rather quiet cruiser, with the engine barely making a noise unless revved hard and just bit of tyre roar.
Should I get one?
The Sonata summed up: A clean design, good refinement and decent driver engagement. It runs pretty efficiently and has been earning a good name for itself for reliability.
Price as tested is S$115,999 for the base trim level which we drove. For S$11k more, you could go for the Sunroof ('S/R') tim which adds a considerable amount of equipment, such as cruise control, parking assist, and vented front seats.
Now, if you look at what's on offer in S$110-120k price range, you'll realize what a steal the Sonata really is'
To poke, prod or book, visit: Hyundai Singapore
Hyundai Sonata VIII 2.0
Engine: 1999cc inline4
Transmission: 6spd Auto
0-100km/h: 11.1 secs
Top speed: 200 km/h
Fuel consumption: 7.9l/100 km
Price: from S$115,999 w/COE