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Car reviews - Hyundai - Sonata - N-Line


We like
Strong engine performance, engaging drive feel, sporty dynamics, striking looks, exceptional standard equipment, fill up quickly at a servo, impressive tech offering
Room for improvement
Can be thirsty, weight tells at the limit, usual over-zealous ADAS, pricey, front-wheel drive power transmission has limitations, uninspiring exhaust note, busy driver control space

Sporty Hyundai Sonata N-Line arrives to spice up your life with none-too-scary price tag

23 May 2024



HYUNDAI is soldiering on with its largish Sonata four door ICE coupe/sedan from $55,500 excluding on roads despite the shrinking segment being totally dominated by Toyota’s Camry (Hybrid) that in comparative Ascent spec’ is priced from $51,417 + ORC.


There’s only one Sonata variant, the N-Line with all the bells and whistles so apart from on roads, the only thing a buyer can add is premium or matte paint the former at $595 the latter a grand.


Hyundai really cut loose with the latest Sonata N-Line leaving nothing on the shelf across safety, infotainment, ADAS and luxury.


In our opinion, that’s how cars should be sold.


Among an extensive kit list, the sleek looking Sonata N-Line, now resplendent with family Hyundai Robocop frontal styling, is equipped as standard with: column type shift-by-wire gear selector, dual 12.3-inch curved panoramic display screens across the dash, intelligent speed limit assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, 6.6-inch touch type climate control interface, acoustic laminated front glass, LED ambient mood lighting and front and rear USB-C outlets.


But as they say “That’s not all” as it is further equipped with LED ‘Seamless Horizon’ positioning lamp, dynamic welcome lighting, hands-free smart power boot-lid, LED rear combination light with “H” style light bar, Apple and Android phone connect, Bluelink connectivity including Over-The-Air (OTA) updates.


In luxury terms you are looking at Nappa and suede leather, Bose 12-speaker sound, wireless phone charging, LED ambient lighting, HUD, electrically operated heated and ventilated front seats and heated outboard rears, heated wing mirrors, dual-zone climate control with rear outlets, a panoramic sunroof and (much) more.


Without resorting to another boring list of safety features let’s just say the new Sonata N-Line with Hyundai SmartSense leaves nothing to be desired in the latest active and passive safety area and is bestowed with a five-star ANCAP safety rating (last model).


There’s no ignoring the handsome new styling that is a tweaked version of the previous model and much easier on the eye while making the newcomer look bigger. Hyundai gives it more zhuzh with gloss black body parts, new 19-inch alloys, a boot lid spoiler, quad tip exhaust and a whole bunch of funky lights including the headlight “bar”.


Dimensions are 4910mm long by 1860mm wide by 1445mm high with a 2840mm wheelbase and it weighs in at 1675kg with a braked trailer capacity of 1400kg.


Multi-mode sporty dynamics are provided by the potent mill, slick auto transmission, strut front and multilink rear suspension, electric steering with a rather handy 2.6 turns lock to lock and 345mm front and 325mm rear disc brakes. The Conti’ rubber is a fat 245/40 but only a space saver spare is in the boot.


Drive is to the front wheels through an eight-speed wet dual clutch transmission at the side of the car’s 2.5-litre, direct injection turbocharged four cylinder rated at 213kW and 422Nm. the same as before.


Hyundai reckons you can get 8.1 litres per 100km out of the Sonata N-Line but we couldn’t. At least it’s happy to drink 91RON unleaded or E10 with minimal deleterious effects to performance.


The car has a standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and servicing is priced at $350 a pop for the first six at 10,000km intervals.


Driving Impressions


Apart from the expected overzealous ADAS and the fiddly gear selector under the blinker stalk, we really liked this car on a number of scores – its looks, rollicking performance, features and sharpish dynamics.


Once preferences were selected, switched on/off or initiated, driving the red test vehicle was akin to the good old days when you could actually engage with the car, feel it bite the road surface, hook around corners, flick up and down the gears, hear it growl when pressed and generally have a great old time.


Mind you, its days are numbered as Hyundai rushes towards full electrification “yesterday” but in the meantime, the Sonata N-Line is here to put a smile on your face in “old fashioned” ICE-style so no worries about where to recharge, how far you have left, will I get there or developing a coffee addiction waiting around.


It looks stunning on walk up almost as big as an old Falcon or Commodore but lower and sexier with an arcing coupe-style roofline, long nose and sloping boot complemented by the aggressively styled grille and full width LED tail-lights with a diffuser and quad tips down below.


The stance screams sporty as do the new 19-inch alloys and high performance Conti tyres backed by multi piston brake callipers over large diameter discs.


And as the appearance suggests, the Sonata offers up decent dynamics considering its 1675kg weight and all its power going through the front wheels, tamed to a certain extent by a braking function.


But as is the case with all bum draggers grip limits are clearly defined eventuating in a spinning front wheel or two under heavy throttle application exacerbated when cornering hard.


Out of interest, we tried to push the Sonata as hard as a little front wheel drive race car in our garage which “lifts a leg” (inside wheel) at the cornering limit but the Sonata’s electronics put paid to that little trick.


Power delivery is linear building to a crescendo at around 4500rpm and carrying on to a touch over 6000rpm. Torque is easily accessible all the time facilitated by the eight-speed auto which always seems in the right gear for any given situation. Or you can paddle shift it and “play race” changing gears with the car looking over your shoulder to ensure no naughtiness.


The mill is smooth and quiet but could do with some snap, crackle and pop to add an extra measure of fun to the Sonata N-Line’s drive experience.


It’s easy to drive and park with all the on board aids contributing and the cabin is good for four adults, five if they’re small in the back seat. Access is low due to the low roof but once aboard, the Sonata’s luxury comes into its own offering up an impressive dual curved screen dash, supple upholstery, customisable interior features, impressive audio and a wide range of luxury accoutrement.


The boot is a decent size and though a pano’ sunroof is fitted, headroom is adequate, but we’d drop the roof given a chance… who wants sunburn?


Ride quality is selectable through softish to firmish and with all settings on “full noise” the Sonata N-Line adopts a more frenetic feel. Dial it all back and it reverts to luxo European sedan mode.


Trouble is, the latest Sonata is almost invisible in the segment as buyers plump nine times out of 10 for a Camry. It could be time to spice up your life a little…

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