Hyundai is launching its stunning Sonata, complete with sunroof, on to the South African market – an upmarket sedan that's been the perennial best-seller since the first-generation model was launched in 1985.“This the sixth-generation Sonata will continue this successful tradition with impeccable quality seen today in other Hyundai premium models,” Hyundai says. "Full leather upholstery will be standard for South Africa and a number of audio devices can be played through its auxiliary and USB ports."Hyundai began developing the 2010 Sonata in 2005 under the codename YF. The project took four years and the equivalent of $372-million to go from concept to customer. Although it is a completely new vehicle, Hyundai is retaining the Sonata brand name in the South African market for a first-hand look, book a test drive right here!CONCEPTThe automaker adds: “The car is destined to shake up the world’s mid-size sedan market with its daring, emotionally-driven design, state-of-the-art technology and superior build quality, the new Sonata promises to be an exceptional driving experience.“It is based on the visionary concept of combining nature’s inherent beauty with the ever-journeying soul and the end product is vehicular innovation at its functional height and sophisticated, class-defying best.“The all new Sonata’s unique design language evokes a sense of desire and strong appeal among virtually all generations of drivers.”FLUIDIC SCULPTURE DESIGN LANGUAGEBeginning with the YF (Sonata) and LM (ix35, replacement for the Tucson, recently launched in South Africa) projects, Hyundai designers set to work about nearly four years ago on developing “fluidic sculpture”, an entirely new design direction.It is a consistent, cohesive design language that will ripple through the entire Hyundai showroom, the automaker says. “In developing the initial Sonata sketches, Hyundai designers considered the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion.“Inspired by nature, fluidic sculpture injects sophistication and dynamic angles into the shape of a vehicle and now serves as the core of Hyundai’s future design identity.”The exterior of the all-new Sonata is long, light and low. The high beltline allows for a long, sleek roof accented by the third window. A mono-form profile includes flowing lines highlighted by a Hyundai-signature chromed accent that runs the length of the car.Normally, this type of trim is only found around the windows. On the new Sonata, this trim extends out from the headlights, juts up along the bonnet and through the beltline. The face is bold with a large, powerful, chromed grille and headlights that integrate precise details. Multi-spoke wheels (16, 17 or 18”) complete the assertive stance.The sophisticated look continues inside where Hyundai has created an upscale ambience thanks to a flow-through centre console and instrument panel POWER FLOW: The Sonata has more features than any other car in its segment. These flowing surfaces complement the exterior design and wrap around the driver and passengers.OVERALL DIMENSIONSThe Sonata rides on a 2795mm wheelbase which is only 65mm longer than the previous model. At 4820mm and 1835mm, it is also longer and wider than its predecessor (by 20mm and five mm, respectively) greatly improving the interior cabin space but the overall height of 1470mm has been lowered by five mm without affecting headroom.POWERTRAINThe Sonata will be equipped in South Africa with one powerful and fuel-efficient, multipoint fuel-injected, 2.4-litre Theta II petrol engine. It has a straightened intake system that allows the engine to inhale a larger volume of air and put out more power and torque: the Theta-II 2.4 is rated at 131kW and 228Nm of torque and emits only 190g/km of CO2.Hyundai’s commitment to making the Sonata extremely fuel-efficient continues with a six-speed auto transmission with Shiftronic manual control as standard. The automaker claims an average European Directive figure of 8.2 litres/100km, making it one of the most economical cars in its class.Developed and manufactured entirely in-house, Hyundai's all-new six-speed automatic A6MF1 transaxle helps the company meet its goals of improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Shifts are silky-smooth with an option of manual control through the Shiftronic feature.Drivers can access this feature by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forwards or pulling it rearwards will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, further enhancing driver control. The steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are also available in the new Sonata. A clear LCD readout on the instrument panel shows the gear being used.Designed for transverse engine applications in cars and SUVs, the new compact transmission puts Hyundai into an elite class of auto manufacturers who have designed their own proprietary six-speed auto transmissions. The strength of the design is its unique layout that makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than any other six-speed transmission on the market today.For the customer, the new six-speed delivers a performance edge. In this application, it helps brings a nine percent reduction in fuel consumption. The gearbox has no dipstick because it is filled with automatic transmission fluid that is good for the life of the vehicle under normal use conditions, thereby reducing maintenance costs.Developed over four-years, this new six-speed auto is 12kg lighter than the five-speed it replaces. It is also 40.6mm shorter and considerably simpler, having 62 fewer parts – vital for greater durability, lighter weight and lower cost.When it comes to transmissions, more gears are definitely better. The addition of a sixth gear enables closer spacing between gear ratios providing a better balance of performance and fuel economy while the wide overall gear ratio helps deliver strong acceleration.The gearbox has three planetary gear sets and a unique flat torque converter that shortens the unit's overall length by 12mm. Four pinion differentials improve durability and further minimize size.Another example of engineering ingenuity is found in the design of the hydraulic pressure control unit. Slight manufacturing deviations from one solenoid valve to the next often causes fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure and affect shift precision and quality.The transmission featured in the Sonata cleverly integrates adjustment screws in the valves that enable each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory. This feature ensures stable hydraulic pressure at any shift point which facilitates a high degree of precision and control needed to deliver fast, smooth and precise shifts throughout the rpm range.FUEL ECONOMY INNOVATIONSIn addition to the new fuel-efficient engines and transmission, the Sonata has a number of other innovations that contribute to lower operating costs.Nestled between the speedometer and tachometer is the "ECO" coach, a new feature designed to promote fuel-saving driving. The automatic uses an "ECO" icon backlit by LEDs with red, white or green LED lighting in accordance with driving behaviour. Fuel savings of 15 to 17 percent are attainable with the automatic "ECO" coach.The Sonata has a state-of-the-art management system for the alternator whose circuitry monitors electrical loads and battery charge. During periods of low electrical load and a full battery charge a clutch automatically disengages the alternator to reduce the load on the engine and reduce fuel consumption.SUPPLE RIDE, AGILE HANDLINGAn advanced all-wheel independent suspension system combines a supple ride with precise handling and steering response for the new Sonata. Macpherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems are used to increase travel for improved wheel control and a smoother ride.All four wheels are controlled by coil springs, fade-resistant gas-charged shock-absorbers and stabiliser bars. The suspension has been optimised to keep the vehicle flat during corning and provide quick turn-in response. The rear suspension uses aluminum components to reduce weight and improve suspension performance. SAFETY INNOVATIONSTo meet the most stringent automotive safety and crash requirements, the Sonata is assembled with hot-stamped, ultra strong steel while featuring six airbags as standard. In addition, safety has been upgraded with electronic stability control (optional) that includes hill-start and emergency braking pressure systems - an industry first, Hyundai says, in this competitive segment.GLOBAL SALESThe Sonata is being assembled in Korea, Alabama (US) and (in 2011) China and the automaker expects to sell 450 000 units a year worldwide.Hyundai is confident that the new Sonata, with its vastly improved features, will attract and satisfy new and current customers. The added specifications are: electronic stability control, foot-operated parking brake, amplitude-selective shock-absorbers, high-mounted third brake light and heatable rear seats.Hyundai South Africa has a DEDICATED WEBSITE for the Sonata on its HOMEPAGE or FIND YOUR NEAREST DEALER to arrange a test drive.