Hyundai Motor Cars Australia have announced the arrival of the 2018 Sonata sedan, still quite fresh off its international debut upon which its revised styling, improved equipment, and updated powertrain package were first brought to light. Australian customers have had to wait a few months since its premiere back in April 2017, but overall the changes made to Hyundai’s mid-sizer seem to have been worth our slight turn of patience.
Chris Chapman, who was responsible for the Sonata’s dramatic visual revamp in Hyundai’s design studio in Irvine, California, says: “It’s all about making an impact. We wanted to deliver an exciting, expressive car to our customers and show the world how passionate Hyundai is about design and craftsmanship. This design provides the visual excitement and unique identity our customers associate with Sonata.”
Under the skin, this facelifted Sonata is still very much related to the 7th-generation car that Hyundai rolled out in 2014, but adds many of the exterior flourishes that have become characteristic of the Korean marque’s most recent models, such as the addition of its new corporate face incorporating the hexagonal Cascading Grille that are matched to slimmer, more dramatic headlights.
More impactful perhaps is the assertive liftback-esque profile and the more contoured rear end. If we’re honest, we’re not such huge fans of the word Sonata being spaced so widely and taking up that much real estate, spoiling what would otherwise be an uncluttered bum.
The range itself has been streamlined going into the 2018 model year. As with most things to follow that practice, something has been left on the cutting table and here it’s the mid-range Sonata Elite variant. Instead, the new Sonata will come in just two variants: Active and Premium.
Over the outgoing version, standard kit list now includes dual-zone climate control with automatic defog, automatically opening boot lid, chrome exterior door handles (wow!) and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with standard satellite navigation as well as support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Like the version it replaces, the 2018 Sonata offers pretty much the same collection of safety equipment as standard, including a rear-view camera and a Park Assist System. Stepping up to the top-spec Sonata Premium, however, adds more high-end active features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Smart Cruise Control. Unfortunately, one of the most important modern pre-collision functions, Autonomous Emergency Braking, is one of those notes that the new Sonata isn’t able to play.
While the more affordable Sonata Active receives the carry-over 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol with 138kW and 241Nm and is mated to a 6-speed automatic, the new engine and transmission combo fitted to the Sonata Premium is arguably one of the 2018 model’s most notable additions. Like the 2017 car, it’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot that generates 180kW and 353Nm, but uses a newer and more fuel efficient 8-speed automatic. If that sounds familiar, the same powertrain package is also used in the non-V6 Kia Stinger.
Inside, there’s new switchgear arranged along the centre stack to control the HVAC systems. Surrounding those are new gloss black ‘piano key’ finish materials that lends it a more premium touch. Rounding things off is a new flat-bottomed steering wheel design and sportier gear knob.
Just like the previous car, and pretty much every other Hyundai bound for Australian buyers, the new Sonata’s dynamics has been tweaked by the company’s local arm. The setup retains the MacPherson Struts up front and an independent rear suspension, combined with Amplitude Selective Dampers.
- Sonata Active - $30,990
- Sonata Premium - $45,490