Great leap forward
Hyundai made its mark with a refined Sonata, writes Graham Smith
THERE’S no better example of the South Koreans’ emergence as carmakers on the world stage than the NF Hyundai Sonata released in 2005.
At the time of its launch it was universally praised as a big step forward for Hyundai.
The NF Sonata delivered the things Hyundai had built its reputation on, such as a long features list and a value-for-money deal, but also delivered a level of refinement and quality lacking in earlier Hyundai models.
HYUNDAI made no bones about it— it was looking to Europe to improve its cars, and it showed in the NF Sonata.
Bigger, better-looking, with six airbags and a choice of four-and sixcylinder engines, there was plenty to like about the Sonata.
It still offered value for money, but didn’t rely on that alone. It was wellbuilt, refined, and drove well.
The cabin offered ample room for five adults; the seats were comfortable and soft, and boot space generous.
The four-cylinder engine option was a 2.4-litre double overhead camshaft all-alloy unit that pumped out a solid 118kW at 5800 revs and 219Nm at 4250 revs to provide adequate get up and go.
For more zip there was the option of a 3.3-litre V6, also an all-alloy unit, with double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. That achieved peaks of 173kW at 6000 revs and 304Nm at 3500 revs, just a smidgen short of the Commodore’s V6 engine at the time.
The V6 was dropped in 2008 and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine added to the engine choices. It produced 110kW and 305Nm. Manual addicts were limited for choice as only the base four-cylinder model was available with the fivespeed manual.
When the diesel arrived in 2008 it was with either a six-speed manual or four-speed auto.
Final drive on all models was through the front wheels.
Like its predecessors, the NF Sonata was equipped with an enticing list of standard features.