HYUNDAI SONATA PREMIUM
They share components but the Korean siblings are very different. Richard Blackburn separates them.
Cheaper than the Optima, it comes relatively well equipped with satnav, leather, front and rear parking sensors, auto folding mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, sunroof and dual-zone climate control. Hyundai is heavily discounting it this month — it’s as low as $38,990 drive-away, $7500 off the sticker price and roughly $10,000 less than the Optima. The deal is likely to continue into the New Year. Warranty is a generous five years and servicing a reasonable $777 for three years/45,000km.
The interior is conservative and lacking a little flair. Infotainment and satnav menus are simple and easy to operate and there are three 12-volt plugs. Attention to detail drops away in the back and below eye level, with plenty of hard grey plastic. Driver’s and passenger’s seats are power adjustable and there’s plenty of legroom in the rear. The boot (on both cars) is generous at 510 L.
The Sonata and Optima are powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, which puts out a healthy 180kW/ 350Nm, line-ball with Ford’s four-cylinder Falcon. It punches above its weight, with good response off the mark. It is also pretty refined and willing to rev but the Sonata’s fuel consumption is on the high side at 9.2L/100km.
Ticks all the passive safety boxes with six airbags and a five-star crash rating but its score of 33.84/37 in the ANCAP test is solid rather than spectacular. Also lacks the driver aids increasingly found on cars of its price, with no blind spot or lane departure warning and no automatic emergency braking. Seat belt warnings for all five seats are a plus, though.
The suspension has been specially tuned for local roads and it shows, coping better than most with our bumpy country roads and potholed city streets. The steering feels a little too light but reacts accurately to driver inputs. The suspension set-up is biased more towards comfort than cornering but it feels secure and predictable through the bends.