First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.0 T-GDi Sport (US-spec)

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Hyundai Motors is renewing all their car fleet, last time we had the opportunity to drive the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan, now is the turn of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata in his 7th Generation.

This was no regular media event because Hyundai sent me to Montgomery, Alabama the home of Hyundai Motors Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA). We received a plant tour and experience the birth of the new Hyundai Sonata and Elantra.

Our journey started Friday at 7:00am with breakfast at The Exchange, the pub in the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa. The bus picked us at 7:30 am and it took 20 minutes to arrive at the HMMA plant.

Our first stop was the Visitor Center, Where we had the product presentation and learned who was Hyundai targeting the new Sonata. We found the 2015 Sonata (LF) non sport fitting into the categories of High Quality, Confident, Sophisticated and the Sonata Sport into Fun to Drive, Premium, Exciting Dynamic.

We found the 2014 Sonata (YF) right in between the LF models as Modern, Powerful, Sleek Sporty. This new Sonata also has the new 2.0 Fluidic Design as the 2015 Genesis Sedan, they mention the first generation was to differentiate from other brands, establishing a family, the new generation, in the other hand, represents a more ‘Modern Premium’ class establishing a reputation of quality and precision beyond expectation.

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The Sonata LF is bigger than the YF by 1 inch overall and its bigger than the competition but similar to the Volkswagen Passat. Also the interior dimensions of the Sonata were greater than YF and the competition, also acquire the classification of Large Car by EPA.

The Sonata LF has gone thru some major improvements with the new design, the front suspension was revised for improved bearing stiffness and the back obtained a dual lower arm for improvement in vehicle stability and high speed turn stability. The new Sonata has also improved on rigidity, increased bushing size at the sub-frame, added soundproof material, dual pinion rack.

They also increased steering wheel feel by changing the ecu from 16 to 32 bit and increased stiffness of column shaft. The Aerodynamics performance has improved with the underbody cover in the engine bay, center floor, rear and rear side for drag beating the competition and reaching the level of Ford Fusion.

Some of the new features found on the new genesis sedan were also included in the new Sonata such as blind spot detection, smart cruise control with stop/start capabilities, hands-free smart trunk, rear side mirror sunshades, auto high beam assist, individual tire pressure monitor, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors and driver’s knee airbag.

At the Q&A section I couldn’t pass the question a lot of people were asking me, as to why they reduce the horsepower on the new Sonata Turbo (I couldn’t asked myself because someone beat me to the question) and their answer was because they are focusing more into a steady torque line that will have better performance on the new Sonata.

In this opportunity I had as partner Jason Sasaki! I had an awesome time test driving the new Sonata with him, check out his blog Sasaki time!

Urban Sunset, that is the color of the car we had to pick. Immediately after the multi tram stopped I run to pick our lucky car at the very end of the row. Our LF was the Sport 2.0 T-GDi with 246 hp @6,000 RPM and 260 lb-ft Torque @1350-4000rpm with 6 speed automatic transmission w/ SHIFTRONIC & Paddle Shifters.

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2015-hyundai-sonata-test-drive (60)This car was all leather with some orange stitching accents in the steering wheel and seats, also the driver and passenger seat had “Sonata” stitched on them. I did love the accents that match the outside color of the car but I felt something was missing on the interior, specially on the center dashboard because it looked too plain for me.

The interior had some resembles to the Hyundai Genesis sedan giving that luxury feeling once inside.  One of the improvements I notice right away how quiet the inside of the car was, it might not be like the Genesis sedan but its definitely something you will notice once the car its on the road.

Also it’s a very roomy car and the way the center console is position, the passenger wont be having problems reaching it. You will also find dial watch below the stereo which is a nice touch of premium car, you have 2 chargers and 1 USB port. Unfortunately the model we had didn’t had much to look at besides the radio so it felt empty.

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Once it was my turn to be on the steering wheel, I definitely had to try the torque Hyundai mention at the presentation. I did couple quick launch and the car felt great, that instantaneous pull at each launch is for sure something you will be glad you have but I have to say the car wouldn’t pass the 6000 RPM and it felt heavier.

One thing to mention, with the new Sonata you will get torque right up to the 1,000 RPM while on the YF you will get it passing the 1,500 RPM. Also, lets keep in mind, this car is not meant for racing or anything of that but its always good having it handy. As some of you guys know, this Sonata uses the same 2.0L Theta II Turbo GDI engine but with different tuned for the sonata.

Now if you are at a track you might be able to pull off from the start line but the decrease in power will hurt the performance on the car. The shiftronic on this car felt nice, it was closer to the finger to flick thru them. One of the good things in our route is we could find lots of curves on the road so I tested those thight curves and it did well, of course the tires were screaming for more grip but besides that it did well.

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Our next ride was the 2.4L GDI 4-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower @6000 and 178 lb/ft Torque @ 4,000 mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission w/ Shiftronic with the 3 different driving modes. The engine on this car felt very responsive, at the quick launch the car was reaching more than 6500 before it shift gears.

I really enjoyed driving this car more compare to previous Sonata but the sport package was also very nice to have. The interior is indetical to our previous car so really there isn’t much to talk about. The 2.0 Sonata Limited comes with panoramic sunroof, 8” navigation display, 10-speaker Infinity Audio.

The starting MSRP price goes as follow:

  • 2.4 Sonata SE $21,150
  • 1.6 Sonata ECO $23,275
  • 2.0 Sonata Sport $23,175
  • 2.0 Sonata Limited $26,525
  • 2.0 Sonata Sport Turbo $28,575

Hyundai also mention they will be making the Sonata Eco, this car will run with the 1.6L Gamma turbo engine, the same found at the Veloster for those extra mpg. Hyundai estimates this engine will give 28 in city, 38 in highway and 32 combined. even tho this car has the small engine, the interior remains the same and the other 2 models. The engine will have 177HP @5,500 RPM and 195 lb/ft Torque @ 1,500-4,500 (estimates) and will be married to a 7-speed transmission.

Hyundai also showed us the new Apple CarPlay, this still going under improvements but the version they had sure was running really smoothly and without any major problems. To make it work, you will have to plug in your lighting cable of your iphone. The voice activation button will activate SIRI and will listen to your commands. When you received a text, SIRI will ask if you want to find out and it will read it for you, the message won’t show at the screen, reducing the risk of accidents. This will come later in the year for everyone to enjoy.

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