Looking back, the Sonata has always been the same; Since its launch in 1985, the Sonata, which has shown innovation that exceeds the standards of the time whenever a new generation is released, has solidified its position as a mid‒size sedan representing Korea beyond Hyundai Motor Company. For example, the 6th generation Sonata gained worldwide popularity through its coupe‒type silhouette and unconventional design, which deviated from the typical three‒box sedan design. In addition, the 7th generation Sonata added basics and safety to the innovations that have been established so far.
The 8th‒generation Sonata, launched in 2019, also received attention for its 3rd‒generation new platform from Hyundai Motor Group, its dynamic design philosophy of Hyundai Motor Company, Sensuous Sportiness, its efficient smart stream powertrain, and various new technologies. ‒ such as digital key, built‒in cam, and voice control. Targeting the tastes of young consumers, the intention of the automaker was described as a ‘smart mobility device’ to provide a Sonata experience as if using the latest smartphone. As such, the Sonata was a ‘Contemporary’ sedan that led the times with advanced marketability and design.
But now the world has changed. The influence of sedans is waning, and SUVs and crossovers are starting to trend. With the rapid emergence of SUVs of various sizes and types regardless of class, the range of choices for consumers has greatly increased. Also, from a few decades ago in the Korean market, fewer and fewer people began to think that ‘midsize sedans are for families’. There are many consumers who are looking for a bigger sedan or have turned their minds to a tall SUV.
The announcement by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association that the proportion of sedans, which reached 58.6% in 2015, decreased to 47.7% in 2020 (52.3% of RVs in 2020), and the proportion of mid‒size sedans for 5 years also decreased by 3.5% points also shows the reality. Because of these backgrounds and trends, it was difficult for the 8th generation Sonata to record sales as high as expected, even though it greatly strengthened its marketability with all kinds of innovative technologies.
For that reason, many are expecting a lot from the recently released SONATA The Edge. In order to meet these expectations, SONATA The Edge is equipped with a design centered on dynamics and Hyundai Motor Company’s latest high‒tech convenience specifications, and has refined its driving performance precisely by improving every corner. SONATA The Edge, which was unveiled at a media test drive held on May 10th, seemed to have successfully completed the task of a facelift model that needed to add something new while utilizing the current design. It perfected its charm by significantly changing the design of the front and back while maintaining an elegant and dynamic coupe‒type silhouette and sensuous side character lines, like a sleek fastback.
All elements of Hyundai Motor Company harmonize while maximizing sporty sensibility ‒ seamless horizon lamps that have become the latest design elements, radiator grille that occupies a wide area of the front bumper, headlamps that have completely become part of the grille, and bumper decorations that rise straight up next to the air intake, and the air dam at the bottom, etc. In addition, in the decoration naturally added to the part where the character line of the front fender begins, dynamics and functional elements are nicely combined by moving the side turn indicators that were previously located in the side mirrors.
The rear design has also changed significantly. What catches the eye is the horizontally extended tail lamp. Paired with the seamless horizon lamp on the front, it helps to make SONATA The Edge look low and wide. At the end of the tail lamp graphic, a dynamic graphic pattern was used to house the turn signal and reversing light functions. Additionally, the decoration on the side of the bumper and the shape of the diffuser at the bottom help emphasize the dynamic atmosphere. Unlike its facelift predecessor, which expressed a sense of volume with softly curved lines, the successor gave unity to the front and rear designs by utilizing strong‒looking straight lines.
The interior is organized in a way that adds a high‒tech sensibility by using a wide display and touch screen in line with the latest fashion, while at the same time having the latest interior design of Hyundai Motor Company. The most notable change is Hyundai Motor’s first panoramic curved display. A pair of 12.3‒inch LCD displays are seamlessly connected to deliver a simple yet functional look. The electronic shift column lever moved from the center console to the back of the steering wheel completes the neatly organized interior atmosphere. There may be deviations depending on the user, but it is a very intuitive way to operate forward/backward by turning the lever back and forth.
The cover of the instrument panel disappeared, and as it was connected to the navigation screen, the openness of the front was improved. The enlarged instrument panel and numbers displayed on the infotainment screen, as well as icons and graphics, add a concise feeling as if looking at the latest digital devices. The screen of the head‒up display, which has grown from the current 8 inches to 10 inches, seems to have become easier to see as well.
Convenience specifications have also become more glamorous: wireless software update that manages various functions of the vehicle in the latest state, digital key 2 that can store car key functions in a wearable device linked to a smartphone, and built‒in that enhances driving video recording and recording performance. Cam 2, an indoor fingerprint authentication system that supports in‒vehicle payment and personalization functions, and more. This advanced technology, which only upper models had, is now housed in SONATA The Edge.
There are several welcome changes: new technology that subtly enhances convenience and cares for occupants ‒ an active air cleaning system that manages indoor air quality by itself, an after‒blow that automatically dries the air conditioner after parking, and a smart power trunk for user convenience.
One of the notable changes in SONATA The Edge is a more mature driving feel. The test drive was equipped with a Smartstream gasoline 1.6 turbo engine, an 8‒speed automatic transmission, and 235/45 R18 Pirelli P Zero all‒season tires. In other words, among the various powertrains of SONATA The Edge (2.0 naturally aspirated, 2.5 turbo, 2.0 hybrid), this model will be the flagship with reasonable price and full performance.
Powertrain performance with a maximum output of 180 horsepower and maximum torque of 27.0 kgf m and combined fuel economy of 13.0 km/ℓ provide sufficient acceleration performance at any time in the city and high‒speed driving, which is a sufficient figure. The combination of the 1.6 turbo engine and the 8‒speed automatic transmission showed impeccable ability in everyday driving. During 0>60 mph it picks up speed quickly. The well‒refined engine sound and exhaust sound seemed to have further developed the driving texture.
As a result of actively reflecting consumers’ responses that there are minor vibrations and wind noise, the most significant change in the driving sensation of SONATA The Edge is the neatly arranged ride comfort and driving noise. To this end, this model has undergone an improvement process to reduce shock from the road surface, such as adding a strut ring to the front suspension mount to catch steering wheel vibration, and trimming the bump stopper of the front subframe bush and rear wheel damper. In order to reduce high‒speed wind noise, the front windshield side molding was tightly attached and the side mirror connection was made seamless. In addition, the automaker worked meticulously to reduce noise and vibration throughout the upper and lower parts of the body.
Thanks to these features, it can grasp the road better than the current Sonata and filter out residual vibrations. When going over speed bumps, its springy lower body responded flexibly, returning to a more balanced position much quicker. The feeling of stability at high speed is increased, and when braking quickly, it calmly presses on the road surface and reduces speed smoothly. It didn’t take much time to notice that the driving performance was improved as much as its more dynamic looks.
Drivers who have experienced both sedans and SUVs in various driving environments will easily understand what this difference means. As people’s daily lives diversify, the preference for SUVs with good space utilization has clearly grown. However, there are still some things SUVs with a high center of gravity and high seating position cannot easily overcome. If you get out of long stretches of highways and drive on national roads that curve left and right, you will feel the difference between an elaborately refined mid‒size sedan and a mid‒size SUV focused on securing interior space. There are still advantages that only sedans can give. As such, SONATA The Edge perfectly met consumers’ expectations for a mid‒size sedan.
It is natural to have more expectations and hopes whenever something that has existed for a long time undergoes a new transformation. For about 40 years, Sonata continued to innovate and introduced new technologies and futuristic designs, leading the Korean sedan market and becoming a global model. Although sometimes criticized, most of these were future‒oriented criticisms for improvements. These opinions, the automaker’s will to improve, and the team’s efforts came together to produce SONATA The Edge. Many hope this will galvanize the midsize sedan market.
by Lee Se‒hwan
Photography by Choi Jin‒ho
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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