Live from CIAS: 2011 Hyundai Sonata

By Nauman Farooq

The Hyundai Sonata has been one of the longest standing models in Hyundai’s line-up. For most of its life, the Sonata was their flagship model, a title that now belongs to their excellent Genesis sedan.

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

So the Sonata might have lost its crown within the company, but it is fighting back with style.

For the 2011 model year, the sixth-generation version of the Sonata will hit the market, and its stunning design is sure to cause its competitors some sleepless nights.

Penned at their design studio in Irvine, California with a team lead by Philip Zak, the theme was to create a very “Fluidic Sculpture.”

The end result is a very coupe-like sedan, and it does look rather attractive. However, this is not an original idea, since the Germans have been at it for a few years now with cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the VW Passat CC.

However, the Sonata will most certainly be a lot more affordable. Infact, at the 2010 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Hyundai Canada announced pricing for this new model, and they start at $22,649. Even the top-spec model will only run you $30,999, and that version even comes with their excellent new touch-screen navigation system.

Plus, the other interesting thing about the new Sonata is that for now atleast, no matter which trim package you choose, you’ll get the same engine. It is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, that features double over head cams, variable valve timing, and direct injection. The end result is 198 hp and 184 lb/ft of torque. Thanks to this engines impressive power figures, Hyundai has dropped the V6 engine from the Sonata line-up.

However, later this year, a gas-electric hybrid version will also hit the market, using “Lithium Polymer” batteries. Not only are lithium polymer batteries easier to package, because the battery pack is flexible and hence can be placed much more efficiently in the cars platform, as compared to the old-fashioned nickel metal hydride batteries as used by Honda and Toyota. Lithium polymer batteries also weight 30% less, takes up 50% less volume, and offers 10% greater efficiency. So it looks like Hyundai’s first hybrid will also be one of the most efficient in the market.

It has also been suggested that a smaller-displacement turbo-charged motor would also be offered on the Sonata at some point next year.

For now, the 2.4-liter motor, named GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection), will be available with either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a six-speed automatic.

Look for this sleek new Sonata to hit the showrooms by March 2010.

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