Motoring: Short-lived Sonata worth it?

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: HYUNDAI
The current Hyundai has two months left in its shelf life, but is it worth buying?

This week's story has a very short shelf life, allow me to explain why.

Korean car firm Hyundai had launched an updated, nicely improved version of their popular Sonata sedan for the 2014 model year, just a few months ago. However, shortly after launching it, Hyundai decided that they will scrap all their recent work, and offer its customers an all-new Sonata for the 2015 model year.

The car you see here, which has been on sale for less than a year, is to be consigned to the history books. Will this limited production run make this model eligible for a collector car status in the future?

Even Hyundai's PR rep said that likely won't happen, so there is no point buying one of these to just put away in a time capsule, and try to sell it for a profit in 30 years time, because it probably won't be worth much.

However, if you're in the market for a mid-size sedan, should you buy one now to use as a daily commuter?

The visual changes are minimal, but look harder and you'll find them. There is a new front apron, nicer looking skirting, rounding up to those gorgeous new LED tail lamps.

The big story with the 2014 Sonata is the upgrade on technology. It finally gets the Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM), which lets you choose the steering weight of your choice (Normal, Comfort, or Sport). For models equipped with the navigation system, a larger eight-inch touch screen lets you control many functions. Put the car in reverse and that screen turns into a backup camera, which now features lines that move with your steering angle, making parking the car easier.

There is also a new blind-spot monitoring system, which not only alerts you if a car is sitting in the unseen spot, but will also alert you if a car is fast approaching you. I found this to be very useful and will hopefully keep you on the road safely.

Powering you forward is still a choice between three engines; the base model gets a 2.4-litre, fourcylinder motor that produces 190 hp (you apparently get two extra horses with the SE model). Next up is the Hybrid model, which gets an electric motor, powered by lithium-ion batteries. When the electric motor is combined with its 2.4-litre, four-cylinder gas engine, the combined power output is 199 hp.

The model I tested was the 2.0T, which as you can probably guess, comes with a 2.0-litre, four cylinder, turbo charged motor, which produces a very healthy 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Despite the turbo charged motor, Hyundai has tuned this motor to run on regular gas, and those numbers are based on 87 octane. That means this mighty turbo sedan will be economical to run.

How economical will depend on your right foot. In a wintery week, I averaged 9.4-litres/100km, which is not bad, but not great either. I would like to point out that my tester was wearing winter tires, which have a higher rolling resistance to regular rubber, and also because cold mornings are much worse than warm ones.

The only transmission offered on this model is a six-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted pedal shifters. This is a smooth transmission, and when asked upon, quite quick too. One of the best gearboxes in its class if you ask me.

Thanks to its turbo power, this is a quick car (zero to 100 km/h in under 7.0 seconds), but it doesn't encourage you to drive it quickly. Try driving it fast, and it'll remind you that underneath it still has an econo-car chassis, and the suspension is not tuned for high speed motoring. Best then to settle down and enjoy its comfortable ride.

As a practical family car, the Sonata fares well. It might not be exciting to drive — not even in its Turbo guise, nor will it massage your back while you cover ground, but it does what many of us want it to do most of the time.

Pricing for the 2014 Sonata start at $23,999. The 2.0T version lists at $31,799. For what you get, the pricing is not bad at all.

However, if you don't like this current model, just wait two months and the all-new 2015 model will be upon us.