The more significant change in the new generation of the Sonata has to be the one that's happened under its bonnet. This car, like the old one, gets a 2.4-litre petrol engine but the difference is this unit features direct injection. Press the starter button and the engine comes alive with barely a whisper. Slot the old school style gated shift lever into D and the 6-speed auto 'box allows a smooth roll off. The transmission unit however is a lazy one, which we found out while downshifting with the paddleshifters during some hard driving. For regular driving however the shifts are as seamless as those of a CVT and offer good driveability. The latter augurs well for city driving or overtaking on highways.
The engine meanwhile is a smooth unit that offers oodles of power – 201bhp to be precise. There's a good amount of torque too at 250Nm. As a result, the Sonata can get up to speed quite quickly; we had the car cruising at 140kmph in no time at all. And thanks to the smoothness of the engine, feeling of speed is muted too. So you'll need to look at the speedo to know how fast you're going really. The other thing that contributes to this feeling is how planted the car feels at high speeds.
Hyundai will also offer the Sonata with a 6-speed manual transmission. Admittedly, the manual is more fun to drive. Especially since the shift action is smooth yet precise, albeit with a hint of a notch. The clutch too is light, which should make it easy to drive in the city. Visually, in the MT version the parking brake is on the central tunnel while in the AT the parking brake is on the foot. Also, the boot of the MT can't be opened from the outside.
But what really stands out is the car's ride quality. The suspension is set up to so that the car absorbs virtually all road irregularities. However there's none of the wallowy tendencies of the Verna.