Hyundai Motor Company unveiled the Sonata N line, which has gone through drastic changes by adding exciting driving performance to the comfort of a mid-sized family sedan. The Sonata N line, which applies a sporty design based on strong driving performance, becomes one of the Sonata lineups with an outstanding charm from the regular model. This is the first time that Hyundai introduced N trim in a mid-sized sedan, but Sonata has had a sports trim that dynamically enhances driving performance since a long time ago. From the traditional sports trim to the current N line, we took a look at the history of the development of Sonata, which has constantly evolved to enhance driving performance, which is the fundamental virtue of automobiles.
Since its debut in 1985, Sonata is the longest surviving model in Korea and the signature mid-size sedan of Hyundai. Sonata in 1988, Sonata II in 1993, Sonata III in 1996, EF Sonata in 1998, Sonata in 2004 (NF), Sonata in 2009 (YF), Sonata in 2014 (LF), Sonata in 2014, and Sonata (DN8) have evolved to become the history of Korean automobiles through a series of design and technological innovations.
In the past, Sonata was equipped with a V6 engine and had a premium trim ‘Gold’ that applied a large number of luxurious convenience specifications. The vehicle provided excellent driving quality as the highest grade trim should offer, featuring sufficient power and smooth rotation from the 6-cylinder with 2.5~3.0ℓ exhaust. However, it was from the 5th-generation NF Sonata that started to emphasize the pleasure of driving and aims for a sports sedan with a sporty sensibility. Since then, the Sonata family with remarkable driving performance continues with the 6th generation Sonata (YF) turbo, the 7th generation Sonata (LF) turbo, and the newly released Sonata N line.
Sonata F24S: the first Sonata to emphasize the concept of ‘sports’
The engine lineup of the 5th generation Sonata includes a 2.0ℓ gasoline engine, a 2.4ℓ gasoline engine, and a 3.3ℓ gasoline engine; and among them, the sportiest model is the F24S with a 2.4ℓ gasoline engine. The V33 model equipped with a 3.3ℓ gasoline engine offered the highest engine output, but it was for the North American market with much long-distance driving, so it would be better to say that the true sports sedan was in fact the F24S.
With the 2.4ℓ Theta engine, the Sonata F24S offered superior performance compared to the basic Sonata. It was a 2,359cc in-line 4-cylinder DOHC 16 valve engine, and it was the first engine developed by Hyundai to adopt a high-pressure cast aluminum engine block, with a chain-type timing belt and variable intake valve system, called VVT (Variable Valve Timing). The highest output of 166 horsepower and the maximum torque of 23.0kgf·m highlighted the successful debut of the high-performance Sonata that offered much more than its competitors at the time.
The uniqueness of the Sonata F24S is not just about the performance. Exterior parts emphasizing sporty sensibility were added, and it was the first Korean mid-sized sedan with dual mufflers and 17-inch alloy wheels to attract attention. In particular, the wide tire with an aspect ratio of 50, which contributes to improving handling, was a specification that reflected the direction of the Sonata F24S, a sports sedan’. The interior was also special. Beyond the comfortable mid-size sedan, the monotone black color was applied to convey the ‘well-running’ image, and the real aluminum trim and red-stitched leather package were added to create a sporty atmosphere.
Sonata (YF) F20 turbo, efficient high power achieved through engine downsizing
In its 6th generation, Sonata has been reborn as a full-fledged high-power sports sedan with an unprecedented style change. The biggest feature is that instead of increasing engine displacement for stronger power, it has been transformed into a sports sedan by lowering the engine displacement and applying a turbocharger. At that time, one of the hottest issues in the global automobile industry was engine downsizing, and there were many cases of applying a supercharger to a low-displacement engine to increase both power and efficiency. The Sonata Turbo was also equipped with a 2.0ℓ Theta II GDI engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger instead of the 2.4ℓ engine used by the 5th generation Sonata F24S, following the engine downsizing trend.
The Sonata F20 Turbo exhibited a peak output of 271 hp and a maximum torque of 37.2 kgf·m. It was finally reborn to feature the highest output among all Sonatas. The acceleration performance was outstanding as well as the high output. The Sonata F20 Turbo reached 100 km/h in 7.0 seconds from a standstill, demonstrating acceleration worthy of a sports sedan. In addition, the fuel efficiency of 12.8km/ℓ secures excellent efficiency compared to its output. This is a whopping 39% improvement compared to the 5th generation Sonata’s highest trim, the Sonata (NF) V33.
The Sonata F20 Turbo offers more mature driving quality by improving the suspension and applying a large-capacity brake system to match the engine to provide the highest output in the lineup. In addition, the exposed dual muffler under the rear bumper and an 18-inch premium wheel exclusively for the turbo model were applied to outperform the regular models. In the interior, a variety of convenience features were added such as a paddle shift for more convenient intervening when shifting, an electric driver’s seat, and a heated steering wheel.
Sonata (LF) Turbo: A sporty mid-sized family sedan
The key change in the 7th Generation Sonata (LF) is the basic upgrade. It has evolved into a world premium mid-size sedan with changes that focus on the essence of the car, such as design, driving performance, safety, and convenience specifications. The characteristic of ‘basic innovation’ that Sonata Turbo had was inherited from the 7th generation Sonata. In addition, the 7th generation Sonata Turbo attracted attention with its dynamic and stable driving quality derived from a powerful powertrain and sportiness suitable for such a high-power model.
The Sonata Turbo was equipped with a new Theta-i 2.0 T-GDi engine, offering a maximum output of 245 horsepower and a maximum torque of 36.0 kgf·m. Compared to the previous model, the output was slightly reduced, but the maximum torque is generated at a mere 1,350 rpm, which significantly improved the acceleration performance and responsiveness for better practicality. It cannot be overlooked that the direct connection is improved by making the lock-up clutch operation of the six-speed automatic transmission more nimble. As such, the 7th-generation Sonata Turbo provided more mature driving performance based on strong fundamentals. For your information, the 7th generation Sonata Turbo showed stable movement even at high speed by increasing damping and the rigidity of the suspension spring.
In addition, the Sonata Turbo emphasized the sporty atmosphere by adding exclusive external and internal parts. The front part has an aggressive design radiator grille and a bumper with an enlarged air intake, while the rear part adds a dynamic atmosphere with a dual twin-tip muffler and diffuser. The interior was also full of elements that stimulated car enthusiasts; unique elements were added to symbolize ‘well-running’ Sonata, such as a D-cut steering wheel, a touch of orange, an exclusive dashboard, and sports seats.
Sonata N Line: A mid-sized sports sedan similar to a high-performance N
On November 12, Hyundai Motor Company officially launched the Sonata N line, which enhances driving performance and applies a sporty design based on the 8th-generation Sonata, which represents a ‘smart mobility device’. The Sonata N Line, the first mid-sized sedan to have the N Line trim, incorporates Sonata’s own comfortable and spacious interior, cutting-edge convenience and safety features, and the know-how learned from developing the high-performance brand N. It will continue to evolve as a sports sedan, the most powerful Sonata that combines all the excitement of driving performance.
The exterior maximizes the sporty looks by showcasing the N brand’s unique identity based on the concept of ‘Sensuous Sportiness’, which previous Sonata models had already featured. The Sonata N Line created a dynamic atmosphere with a geometrically shaped parametric jewel pattern grille, a bumper for the N Line that emphasized the intake hole, 19-inch wheels, and dual twin-tip mufflers.
The Sonata N line, which has a dynamic design and enhanced power performance, will further strengthen the presence of Sonata with the previously released base model, hybrid, and Sensuous (1.6T). In particular, the Sonata N line is based on the new 2.5T engine so that you can feel the high-performance N closely even from the signature mid-sized family sedan of Korea. It boasts 290 horsepower, the highest output among all-time Sonatas, and at the same time features additional specialized driving features such as launch control and rev-matching, which are features of high-performance N. With this in mind, the Sonata N Line is expected to further expand the options for car enthusiasts who enjoy driving. From Sonata F24S to the newly-released Sonata N line, the successful evolution of the Sonata, which challenges the limits, will continue.