Movie sequels can be a hit or miss affair. They can either be more memorable than the first movie (example: Empire Strikes Back) or leave a bad taste in your mouth (example: The Matrix Revolutions). This is true for vehicles as well; get it right and you’ll elevate yourself into a real player in the class. Get it wrong and you’re destined to become a nobody. So where does the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata fall? Well I spent a few days in the Sonata Sport 2.0T to find out.
I think it is fair to say the new Sonata’s design has arrived with a bit of a thud. It isn’t to say the new Sonata isn’t a good looking sedan, but compared to the groundbreaking design of the previous-generation model, the new Sonata doesn’t have the same excitement. Such details as the coupe-like roofline and chrome trim running along the underside of windows are still there, but with a splash of boringness. The front and rear-ends feature a more upright design that makes it more Genesis-like. Sport models come with unique rear fascia treatment and quad exhaust tips to try and give it an aggressive look, something I think actually works.
While the exterior is slightly disappointing, the interior is a massive step forward. Thanks to increase in the overall size of the Sonata, the interior has grown as well. This is noticeable when sitting in the back as there is more legroom then in the last-generation model. Headroom is still bit tight for taller passengers due to the sloping roofline. Other interior improvements include more soft-touch materials on the dashboard and a new centerstack design which makes it easier to find the HVAC and radio controls. On my Sport tester, it boasted a flat-bottom steering wheel and charcoal leather with burnt orange body-matching piping and thread. Seats provided good comfort and support.
Now the Sport is available with either 2.4L four-cylinder or turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder. I had the latter engine which produced 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic. As I wrote in my first-drive last year, the Sonata 2.0T feels a bit more punchy and has improved acceleration thanks to a smaller turbocharger. This very much holds true during my week long test as the turbo-four feels very lively. Stepping on the accelerator, it felt like I was unleashing a cannon as power came on instantaneously. NVH levels are kept down, making it more akin to a six-cylinder. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth and unobtrusive shifts. The EPA rates the 2015 Sonata Sport 2.0T at 23 City/32 Highway/26 Combined. My week saw an average of 26.1 MPG.
As for ride and drive, the Sonata Sport gets aggressively tuned dampers and springs, along with a new steering system to make it a bit more fun in the corners. But it doesn’t feel any more sporty than the standard Sonata. It might corner slightly better, but you really can’t tell if it does. Now on the positive, the Sport 2.0T provides a comfortable and smooth ride. But if this is a Sport model, there should be a noticeable difference. Steering also has the same problem as there isn’t a real difference between this system and the steering system found on the standard Sonata. Both systems feel slightly numb, but provide decent weight.
I hate to say it but the Sonata Sport 2.0T is quite the disappointment. Hyundai dropped the ball on some key areas such as exterior design and making the Sport model feel sporty. In fact, Hyundai Motor America’s CEO Dave Zuchowski said the current Sonata doesn’t have the same impression as the last-generation one and they are planning to do a redesign in a year. But there has been some improvements that has improved it for the better such as the interior and changes to the turbo engine. However, those changes can’t save the Sonata Sport 2.0T from falling down.
Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: Sport 2.0T
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC D-CVVT Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350 – 4,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/32/26
Curb Weight: 3,505 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama
Base Price: $28,575
As Tested Price: $29,510 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge)
Carpet Floor Mats - $125.00