Hyundai started with names, for some cars they went to numbering but the swing is back to names. The Sonata became the i45 and is back to Sonata. In the three model range, A Wheel Thing kicks of a back to back test with the entry level model, the Active.
Utterly uncomplicated: a 2.4L engine, with 231 Nm at 4000 rpm and 138 kW at 6000 revs. Transmission is a six speed auto. Fuel economy finished at 7.1L per 100 km after some 630 km. Hyundai quote an excessive 12.1L for urban, a more reasonable 6.3L for highway and 8.3L per 100 km on a combined cycle. Tank size is a not inconsiderable 70L.
The main design difference is at the front. In profile it’s almost identical, down to a chromed strip in the upper fenders, but by giving the Sonata a different headlight/grille/bumper treatment (plus some well integrated LED driving lights) and a mild work over of the tail lights, it’s enough to differentiate between the two. Rolling stock was 17 inch alloys, with 215/55 Nexen rubber. Dry weight is a decent 1500 kilograms.
The aforementioned profile also hints at an almost coupe’ look, with a sloping roof line, front and rear, running an angle from above the B pillar to terminate almost at the boot lid in one smooth curve. It’s a swoopy, aerodynamic look and is pleasingly well proportioned to the eye.
It’s a good size at 4855 mm long, with width and height 1865 and 1475 mm respectively. With a 2.8 metre wheelbase, it offers plenty of interior legroom as well. Coated in a pearlescent white didn’t hurt, either, making the Sonata look bigger.
On The Inside.
The inside is comfortable but, much like Goldilocks’ porridge, isn’t great nor is it terrible. It’s just right in an unspectacular sort of way. There’s cloth seating, good ergonomics, switchgear is clear to read and nicely laid out however it’s bland, dull, uninspiring. There’s two information screens; a monochrome one for the driver and a 4.3 inch main screen in its own housing in the upper console.
There’s nothing offensive about the cabin….but there is nothing that reaches out and catches the eye to say “Buy Me!!!” either. The seats have good but not great bolstering, the dash is functional but not overly impressive, the dash console is well laid out but dull to the eye….you get the picture. The steering wheel has a good feel and echoes the design of the grille.
In the centre console between passengers lies a button that activates a driving mode, with a choice of Normal, Sports or Eco. Effectively it changes the shift points of the auto; A Wheel thing left it in Normal.
There is, however, a couple of redeemers; the steering column is adjustable not just for rake (up and down), but, unusually, for reach (in and out) as well. With a reasonable amount of fore/aft adjustment for the driver’s seat, it does allow for almost any sized driver to create a comfortable position. Then there’s the blue backlighting for the buttons on the tiller, it’s classy, effective and not overpowering. Starting procedure is “old style” key operated.
There’s Euro style indicating, with a soft touch position for three to five flashes, before clicking through to the normal operating position. Auto headlights are standard, as well, 2 12 volt sockets in the front centre console and one for the rear, airbags for driver and passenger head and thorax, along with curtain airbags.
Cargo space in the rear is 462L with the seats up, naturally there’s plenty of bottle and cup holders distributed throughout the cabin. The sound system is of a decent quality, with a solid bass without booming and enough range to not have the ears struggling to pick up up notes.
On The Road.
Goldilocks strikes here as well; the engine delivers the goods but needs to be pressed to do so. Under light acceleration the engine sometimes feels as if it struggles, although the gearbox shifts smoothly enough. It’s the comparative dearth of torque and that 231 Newton metres comes in at 4000 revs, somewhat above the normal rev point under light acceleration, meaning the engine is working less efficiently to do the same work.
Under way, it’s the similar situation, just delivered differently, in that the revs are in play at around 2000 rpm and to extract anything in regards to overtaking, a bit of a heavy right slipper is called upon. A bit, that is. The computer is pretty savvy in that a more judicious use of the go pedal seems to be more effective than an outright slam dunk of the right foot. Sounds odd, but it works, in that a more leisurely approach seemed more effective.
The ride felt a touch soft and wallowy yet that was more down to the tyres than the Australianised suspension. That is well tuned with shockers and springs well matched to flatten the ride, absorb bumps, have the car flat and level and not pogo over certain irregular road sections.
Of concern, however, are the brakes. They’re ineffective without a decent shove on the pedal. There’s no response for the initial part of travel, soft for most of the first part of the upper travel and leave the car careering towards anything in front of it without the brakes worrying they’re really being called upon. There’s a distinctive lack of bite until the pedal has sunk over a third of the way down and no real feel of progression either.
Steering is responsive, driven by the engine rather than electrically assisted; it’s well balanced and weighted, with a turn setup of just 2.8 (rounded up) rotations from full lock to full lock. It does feel a touch light at lower speeds but feels as if it’s increasing in weight as speed increases.
The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Active is the automotive equivalent of Goldilocks and her porridge, with that porridge in a plain white bowl… It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold….it’s just right, but unspectacularly so. It does the job without fuss and without any real appeal. The end economy result, however, was a pleasant surprise, coming in at under Hyundai’s quoted figure for combined driving. That urban figure, though…
Hyundai offers a new car buyer this warranty: five years with unlimited kilometres covered, plus you can take advantage of their 10 years worth of roadside assistance and Hyundai’s Lifetime Service Guarantee (see the website for T’s and C’s.) Should you buy an Elite or Premium, there’s three years of updates to the navigation system.
The Car: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Active.
Engine: 2.4L gasoline direct injection.
Fuel: 91 RON.
Economy (quoted): Urban, Highway, Combined L per 100 km, 12.1/6.3/8.3.
Dimensions: L x W x H (in mm) 4855 x 1865 x 1475.
Weight: 1500 kg (dry)
Wheel/Tyre: 215 x 55 x 17, alloy wheel with Nexen rubber.
Warranty: 5 years, unlimited km warranty.