The Sonata, a representative family sedan in South Korea, has made its mark in the global market. Known for its robust foundation and outstanding reliability, it has garnered trust from countless customers, expanding its foothold. Additionally, the Sonata has progressed in terms of design ‒ introducing a coupe‒style, innovative design that injected a fresh shockwave into the global automotive industry. This Sonata is now transforming sharply into ‘The Edge,’ aiming to establish new benchmarks of success. The Sonata The Edge stands out as a near full‒change facelift model, bringing freshness to its interior and exterior design, packed with advanced convenience specifications.
However, the true value of the Sonata ‘The Edge’ lies in redefining the sedan’s core identity. It’s precisely because it clearly showcases the new role and direction of the sedan in an era where SUVs have become ubiquitous. To delve into the Sonata ‘The Edge,’ which refines the charm of midsize sedans more meticulously, three automotive columnists have stepped forward. Byong‒jin Lee, a veteran automotive expert with over 20 years in the field; Su‒jeong Yoon, a journalist flaunting profound automotive knowledge; Sujin Lee, who began as an automotive journalist in 1991, later serving as an automotive magazine editor‒in‒chief and editorial board member. Each presents their unique perspectives on the Sonata ‘The Edge’ Hybrid, 1.6 Turbo, and N‒Line.
Just as the quote from the movie ‘Walter Mitty,’ To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.The reason why this line suddenly came to mind while experiencing the Sonata The Edge hybrid may be because, looking back on the history of the Sonata, which is still famous in a changing era, I felt the flexibility of this family‒oriented sedan to embrace the tastes of trendy and cheerful people.
Perhaps it’s the intelligent hybrid powertrain that bridges the technological gap between internal combustion engines and electric vehicles, overcoming numerous real‒world obstacles to bring us closer to the pulse of the times. The efforts of the Sonata ‘The Edge’ Hybrid to connect with the masses and align with the flow of the era, even while moving beyond its role as Hyundai’s iconic model, are truly commendable.
The Sonata ‘The Edge’ Hybrid has matured gracefully, and one noticeable change is its exterior. The distinctive ‘blue H badge’ or the ‘Eco badge’ is no longer apparent on the exterior, as emphasizing eco‒friendliness has become outdated in our rapidly evolving society. Hyundai’s implicit pride in its hybrid system is so substantial that it doesn’t need to overemphasize it. As a result, the Sonata ‘The Edge’ Hybrid is impressive and satisfying across the board; it’s serene, comfortable, yet firm and robust, all while being more enjoyable and lively than expected.
I won’t dwell on the extensive changes to the 8th generation Sonata’s design, now bearing the name ‘The Edge.’ Suffice it to say that the front and rear design changes have exceeded expectations, bringing about a dramatic evolution. Features like the seamless Horizon Lamp spanning the width of the hood and the radiator grille dominating most of the front bumper, alongside headlamps that blend into the grille, create a dynamic and impressive appearance. The coupe‒like roofline remains sleek and charismatic, and the ‘H’‒shaped taillamps, along with the refined rear bumper, deliver a sense of wideness and sturdiness beyond the specification.
The interior changes are more impressive than the exterior. The panoramic curved display, consolidating the 12.3‒inch cluster and infotainment system into a single panel, is particularly noteworthy. The infotainment system boasts sharp visuals and a neatly arranged menu structure. Its user interface is intuitive and straightforward, making it easy for anyone to operate.
The attention to detail in interior assembly quality and practicality is impeccable. While times have changed, and the title of the leading family car has shifted towards SUVs, the Sonata remains impressive as a family sedan. The spacious interior, perfect for long journeys with five adults, is complemented by a trunk space of 480 liters (according to VDA standards). The flat and spacious cargo area, achieved by relocating the hybrid battery beneath the rear seats, is a standout feature.
I pressed the button to start the engine. As befitting a hybrid system that excels in achieving maximum efficiency through a harmonious interplay of the engine and electric motor, the engine doesn’t awaken immediately. After confirming the readiness to start through the cluster, the electronic gear shifter on the steering column comes into play. It handles shifting between forward and reverse by turning the lever, a simple and intuitive gear lever design that may feel slightly awkward the first few times but quickly becomes familiar and convenient, thanks to its ergonomic design.
Then I gently pushed the accelerator to set off. The quiet and smooth acceleration, akin to sailing on water, encapsulates the essence of an electric vehicle. Press the accelerator pedal further, and the engine, previously dormant, awakens and reinforces its power significantly. The 2.0‒liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine produces 152 horsepower and 19.2 kgf·m of torque. Combined with the additional power from the electric motor and the hybrid‒specific 6‒speed automatic transmission, the Sonata ‘The Edge’ efficiently propels its front wheels. While the engine may turn on and off depending on driving conditions, the transitions are seamless. When the engine’s revs increase, only the typical sounds of a 4‒cylinder naturally aspirated engine are evident. In general, it’s quiet, smooth, and refined.
This sensation extends to the transmission. Hyundai has employed Active Shift Control (ASC), a precision shift control technology optimized for hybrids, to perfect the transmission. The electric motor located between the engine and the transmission continuously monitors the rotational speed at a rate of 500 times per second, ensuring smooth and rapid gear changes by aligning the transmission’s rotational speed with the engine’s revs. It not only captures the efficiency but also maintains a superior driving feel, which is impressive for the latest hybrid transmission technology.
It’s quiet, comfortable, yet doesn’t compromise on driving enjoyment. The intuitive handling and a surprisingly sturdy lower body structure make it confident and agile, mirroring the car’s dynamic appearance. Thanks to enhanced capabilities in reading road surfaces and damping vibrations compared to the previous Sonata, it delivered a high‒quality driving experience comparable to what you’d expect from higher‒end models. It flexibly handles irregular road surfaces and swiftly recovers from deviations in posture. Furthermore, the increased confidence during high‒speed driving and the ability to maintain a stable chassis posture during abrupt braking are remarkable.
This hybrid, equipped with an electric motor, also incorporates several technologies that contribute to its outstanding quality. For example, when accelerating after crossing a speed bump, it minimizes pitching (the alternating up‒and‒down motion of the body) for a comfortable ride through precise control of the torque of the electric motor. When entering and exiting corners, the e‒handling technology uses the torque from the electric motor to shift the weight balance, resulting in sharper handling and cornering performance.
Furthermore, the Sonata ‘The Edge’ Hybrid features e‒traction technology, which delivers more exhilarating responses and movement, especially during rapid acceleration or sharp corners. This is achieved by finely controlling the torque of each wheel with the electric motor, enhancing the driving performance. All this while easily exceeding 18 km/L in real‒world fuel efficiency. It’s a highly versatile and remarkable car. For reference, the standard fuel efficiency of the Sonata Hybrid varies from 17.1 to 19.4 km/L, depending on the trim.
The world is changing, and so are the currents. However, the Sonata remains one of Hyundai’s symbolic models, always leading the era with optimism, while silently scripting another chapter through the pinnacle of technology. It strives to overcome numerous obstacles in the world, break down walls, and get closer to the pulse of the times. That’s where the Sonata ‘The Edge’ Hybrid stands tall.
by Byong‒jin Lee (Automotive columnist)
In the world of personality typing with the MBTI assessment, I’m pegged as an ‘ESFJ’—an extroverted, people‒centric personality. ESFJs have their strengths: they’re affectionate and socially inclined, but there’s a downside too. They tend to shy away from rapid changes and can be seen as conservative. That hesitation towards change often means staying within the bounds of mainstream trends. ESFJ types tend to embrace things most people find familiar, cars included.
Among the various types of vehicles such as sedans, hatchbacks, station wagons, SUVs, and pickup trucks, the one I find most familiar is the sedan. While SUVs have become quite common on the roads today, just a little over a decade ago, it was the sedans that dominated the streets. Even my own family used to drive a midsize sedan, and now, my husband and I still opt for a midsize sedan. Some might say, “Sedans are losing ground in the era of SUV dominance, especially after COVID‒19,” but sedan sales are still on the rise.
Looking at the sales figures from August, if we categorize the top three vehicle models from Hyundai Motor Group into sedans and SUVs, here’s what we find; In the sedan category, the Hyundai Grandeur, Elantra, and Sonata took the top spots, with a total of 16,579 units sold. In the SUV category, the Sorento, Sportage, and Casper collectively achieved 16,190 unit sales. Despite the popularity of SUVs, sedan sales are leading the way. It means that the popularity of sedans is very much alive.
Choosing a midsize sedan after getting married is an extension of this mass appeal. Midsize sedans allow for worry‒free parking in tight spaces, offer ample interior space, and a comfortable ride. The Sonata The Edge encompasses all these advantages as a representative midsize sedan. Regardless of gender or generation, weekend outings often become battles for parking spaces, especially in narrow nooks and crannies.
With the popularity of camping trips, there’s a growing preference for larger vehicles, but parking spots remain as narrow as ever. Nevertheless, the Sonata The Edge handles parking situations with ease. Despite its dimensions of 4,910mm in length, 1,860mm in width, and 1,445mm in height, it falls under the “compact” category in terms of parking difficulty. Even when surrounded by large RVs on both sides, you can easily maneuver the Sonata The Edge out of a parking space using the remote smart parking assist, without the driver getting behind the wheel.
The interior space is generous as well. The rear seats accommodate an adult, offering plenty of legroom and headroom for an average 160cm‒tall woman. The seatback angle is appropriate, and with the recent updates, the 60:40 rear seat folding configuration enhances versatility. It results in a more practical use of cargo space, and the low trunk lip allows for easy loading.
o, what about the final piece of the puzzle, the ride quality, which determines a car’s overall completeness? Test drives are often limited to just half a day, and even that has been shortened to 2‒3 hours after the era of COVID‒19. Analyzing and understanding a new model in such a short time is challenging, even for automotive journalists. However, when you encounter a car that feels comfortable from the moment you step in, the task is no longer challenging; For me, the Sonata The Edge was one such car.
The Sonata The Edge, equipped with a 1.6 Turbo engine, offered a smooth and comfortable ride. When I pressed the accelerator pedal, it accelerated calmly, and once up to speed, it maintained a composed demeanor without tiring out. It also impressed me with its stability at higher speeds. Thanks to the low center of gravity of the 3rd‒generation platform, it handled both straight‒line driving and cornering with confidence. Even when encountering speed bumps, it smoothly absorbed the irregularities in the road surface and quickly settled, maintaining an impressive balance.
The steering wheel is pleasantly light, making it easy to maneuver with one hand, especially when making sharp turns or parallel parking. This characteristic is quite convenient for those who seek an enjoyable driving experience. The noise insulation was surprisingly impressive, largely due to the application of double‒layered acoustic glass on the front windshield and the side windows. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) also worked seamlessly. From fundamental steering assistance functions like Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) to advanced features such as Rear Cross‒Traffic Collision Warning that detects risks from vehicles approaching from the rear, it offers comfortable driving without any fuss.
The Sonata ‘The Edge’ is fully equipped to capture the mass market. It leverages its bold and sporty design, a wealth of convenience features, and an even more comfortable ride to carve out its own niche. In a segment where versatility is crucial, the Sonata ‘The Edge’ continues to expand its territory. The era of the Sonata is far from over.
by Su‒jeong Yoon (MOTORPLEX journalist)
Even if you’re not a shoe lover, having a variety of different types of shoes is commonplace. You’d likely own formal shoes that complement suits, comfortable loafers, and perhaps sports‒specific shoes like tennis or basketball sneakers. Similarly, having tools designed for specific purposes significantly enhances life quality, but when it comes to cars, it’s challenging to have different ones for varied needs. Hence, most people compromise between their necessities and desires and settle for one or two cars.
The midsize sedan category is incredibly distinct in its nature and purpose. The generous space accommodating five seats naturally resonates with the concept of ‘family.’ For those picking up kids or elderly parents, the midsize or larger sedans often catch their eye. Yet, the demand for sedans has diminished with SUVs quickly replacing their position. Even in the United States, where midsize sedans were once the best sellers, it’s now a challenge to find sedans in the top 10 models. The 8th‒generation Sonata (DN8) entered the scene in 2019 at a time when sedans were struggling. While refining the somewhat bold design, it also introduced the radical addition of the high‒performance N Line, capturing attention from customers.
The high‒performance essence of the Sonata might feel unfamiliar, but on closer inspection, it signifies robust capabilities and thorough preparation. In 2013, Hyundai established a technical research center near the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, known as the ‘Green Hell,’ where they honed the driving performance of development vehicles on the North Loop (Nordschleife), a 20.8km course comprising over 150 corners, famous for taming numerous supercars. In 2012, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH was established in Alzenau, Germany, focusing on racing activities like WRC and TCR. The accumulated driving performance technology has influenced various Hyundai models, not only reflecting in the high‒performance essence of the Sonata The Edge N Line but across several other models.
The Sonata bearing the name ‘The Edge’ has undergone substantial changes. The charismatic front bumper and radiator grill, accentuated by N Line badges, vividly showcase the DNA of the high‒performance N brand. The raised rear spoiler and the dual twin‒tip mufflers emitting a powerful exhaust note further confirm this. Inside, the red accents on the crash pads and steering wheel invoke a sense of tension. The bolstered front seats use suede with high friction to securely support the body.
The 2.5 Turbo engine delivers a generous torque of 43.0kgf·m in a wide range from 1,650 to 4,000rpm, ensuring stress‒free acceleration at any speed. The 8‒speed DCT, using wet clutches, can handle high torque while minimizing shift shocks. Using the launch control function, achieving 0 to 100km/h acceleration in the 6‒second range is also possible. However, there is more about the high‒performance essence of the Sonata The Edge N Line.
It’s no easy task to infuse a midsize sedan, which is generally bound by its long wheelbase and front‒wheel‒drive tendencies, with a sports essence. Nonetheless, the driving prowess of ‘The Sonata ‘The Edge’ N Line’ is ample enough to bear the label ‘sports.’ The handling performance of ‘The Sonata ‘The Edge’ N Line,’ based on Hyundai’s Group 3rd‒generation platform, matches European equivalents without any shortcomings. High damping force dampers help restrict unnecessary body movements, ensuring the body remains composed in continuous corners. The ability to delicately read road surface details and maintain a high level of interior quietness is satisfying.
For drivers who aren’t content with this level of performance, the Sonata The Edge N Line offers additional hardcore driving specifications like mono‒tube shock absorbers, lowering suspension, and high‒performance brakes. For those contemplating circuit driving, the monoblock brake & lightweight wheel package is a must. Experiencing the Sonata ‘The Edge’ N Line’s blend of a midsize sedan with a sports character is exceptionally compelling. To reconcile comfort and driving performance, considerable technological prowess is required. The Sonata The Edge N Line undoubtedly stands out as a unique car that is accessible to regular folks—a family car capable of sporty driving.
by Sujin Lee (Automotive columnist)
The Sonata The Edge aims to broaden the role and position of midsize sedans with its diverse character and allure, as observed so far. Within the Sonata The Edge, Byong‒jin Lee highlighted the impressive refinement of the hybrid powertrain, while Su‒jeong Yoon introduced why many embrace this as a midsize sedan. Additionally, Sujin Lee emphasized that the Sonata The Edge N Line underlines the potential of a ‘family car capable of sports driving.’ Just like the name ‘The Edge’ suggests, the steep changes become fantastic news for all Sonata enthusiasts.
Byong‒jin Lee (Automotive columnist)
Byong‒jin Lee started his editorial journey back in 2003 with the monthly Motor Magazine and has contributed as a feature editor for several automotive magazines like Motor Trend Korea, Top Gear Korea, and membership magazines such as Galleria. Currently, Lee’s editorial expertise expands across a wide range of fields beyond automobiles.
Su‒jeong Yoon (MOTORPLEX journalist)
Su‒jeong Yoon served as a feature editor for specialized automotive publications such as Car Is You and Motor Trend Korea, before taking on the role of an automotive journalist at Motorplex, a dedicated automobile magazine.
Sujin Lee (Automotive columnist)
Sujin Lee, a seasoned journalist active since 1991, has held positions as editor‒in‒chief and editorial board member at the monthly Car Vision and Car Life magazines. Presently, Lee works as a freelance automotive columnist.
Edit by In‒joo Lee
Photography by Jin‒ho Choi
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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