pic above shows off the high-end Korean-spec version with soft cream
leather upholstery and if you look closely you can see the gear
shift lever for the automatic transmission.
that the Sonata would be used by the well heeled who would not be caught
dead behind the wheel and would prefer to be chauffeured, Hyundai has
worked extra long and hard to give the rear seat occupants more room and
better comfort. The India-spec Sonata will feature the bigger rear seat
from the Grandeur XG luxo-limo in a bid to keep the high and mighty in
good shape. For a part of our media drive from Ulsan to Seoul I was made
to sit in the rear seat and experience the pleasure of being chauffeured.
I can say that I enjoyed it, much to my surprise, thanks to there being
more room to stretch, and revel in.
And that is where the Sonata will be in its element thanks to its rigid
body structure coupled with superbly optimised independent suspension
all around. At the front there is double wishbone type suspension gear
with gas charged shock absorbers while a multi-link set-up is used at
the rear, again with gas charged shocks. Add to that precisely weighted
steering which is accurate and just quick enough keeping in mind the car's
dimensions. All this - chassis, suspension and steering, plus those 15-inch
tyres help endow the Sonata with an outstanding ride quality which is
apparent at any speed. It is not overtly plush or unduly harsh at any
speed and this was a major factor in me being pleasantly surprised while
being forced to take a backseat!
terms of handling and road behaviour, the Sonata is as good as any other
car in its class thanks to taut body control with not much roll even when
cornered enthusiastically. On the eight-lane Korean super highways, the
car displayed amazing straight line stability even when clipping close
to the double ton - 200kmph - mark. And a word about the retardation needed
to allow the driver to power to such speeds. The Sonata is equipped with
disc brakes on all four wheels, with the fronts being of the ventilated
type. Pedal pressures needed to haul this high roller down to safe stops
are not physically intensive, only a firm caress gets the job done. There
is superb feel and feedback as the brakes do their job but then one has
also got to understand that the Sonata comes with ABS and TCS traction
control as standard, even for India. This is a very good move and will
further help place the goal posts a bit further in the overall progress
of the Indian automobile industry.