LA Auto Show: 2011 Hyundai Sonata revealed

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 30, 2009

It was around three-and-a half-years ago when designers at Hyundai commenced work on the so-called Fluidic Sculpture, which is described as a consistent, cohesive design language. During the development of the initial Sonata sketches, designers at Hyundai wanted to create an impression of constant motion, leading them to weigh on the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures.

Essentially, Fluidic Sculpture is the infusion of dynamic angles and sophistication into the form of a Hyundai vehicle – now serving as the core of the brand’s future design identity. Applied on the new Sonata, Fluidic Sculpture gives the car a long, low and light exterior.

For instance, the car features a high beltline that creates a long yet sleek roofline. The Sonata also features flowing lines accentuated by a Hyundai signature chrome accent spanning its entire length -- from the headlamps, along the hood and through the beltline -- instead of just around the windows.

Moreover, the new Sonata features a bold front end marked by a large powerful chrome grille and headlamps with precision in its details. The overall exterior looks of the new Sonata are accentuated by 16-, 17- or 18-inch multi-spoke wheels.

For drivers wanting a sportier ride and handling dynamics, they could opt for the Sonata SE, which features sport-tuned suspension with stiffer springs and larger stabilizer bars. These elements lead to a 20-percent improvement in roll stiffness.

Moreover, the model comes with distinct SE dampers that include monotube shocks in the rear for controlling the suspension, as well as 18-inch tires. On the other hand, the new Sonata boasts of a world-class power-to-weight ratio that helps the full-sized car deliver a good balance between performance and fuel economy.

While the new 2011 Sonata is around 25- and 19-percent stiffer in torsion and bending rigidity, respectively, than its predecessor, it is lighter than a number of midsize sedans and is more spacious inside. All models come with column-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering that is not only more responsive but also more fuel efficient than a conventional steering system.

This system features a quick-ratio steering rack for a sharper turn-in and allows the Sonata to have a turning diameter of 35.8 feet.

Interior Design

On the other hand, the cabin of the new Sonata boasts of a spacious premium environment made possible by the flowing center console and instrument panel and very efficient interior packaging. This allowed the Sonata to offer an interior that leads in its class in terms of functionality, comfort and practicality.

While the Sonata comes with a sleek roofline that may have compromised headroom and interior volume, it still offers the most spacious interior within its class at 120.2 cubic feet.

In fact, the Sonata’s roominess had the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classify it as a large car, which makes it bigger than the Camry, Altima, Fusion and Malibu – all classified as midsize cars.

Furthermore, the Sonata boasts of 16.4 cu. ft. of trunk room, which is around 9.3% and 17.1% larger than that of the Camry and the Accord, respectively.

Powertrain

Powering the new Sonata is Hyundai's new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that develops (preliminary ratings) up to 198 horsepower of output and up to 184 lb.-ft. of torque. In the SE trim that includes a standard dual exhaust, this engine develops up to 200 horsepower. Interestingly, Sonata is the first midsized sedan to feature GDI technology as standard in a naturally aspirated engine.

This powerplant features a Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) fuel delivery system that helps enhance fuel efficiency while lowering emissions. GDI allows for a more direct path of fuel delivery, which means better control of the fuel mixture at the optimum moment, resulting to higher efficiency. A camshaft-driven, high pressure pump – able to operate at pressures up to 2,175 psi – is responsible for directly injecting the fuel.

For improved power, direct injection employs an 11.3:1 compression ratio. And for better combustion efficiency in the cylinder, the engine uses dished pistons. The new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter 16-valve engine, when equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox, is expected to return an estimated fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway. O the other hand, when equipped with the available six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONI, the engine delivers an estimated fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway.

Additionally, this engine features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for improved engine breathing. This engine also has a version that complies with Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards. Hyundai is planning to introduce next year a 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and a 2.4-liter Hybrid Blue Drive model with lithium polymer battery pack.

These powertrains are vital to Hyundai's plans to become the most fuel-efficient carmaker in the world. Complementing these engines are Hyundai's standard six-speed manual transaxle and a new six-speed automatic transmission (A6MF2) with SHIFTRONIC manual control. The automatic transmission offers seamless shifts with an option for manual control via its SHIFTRONIC feature, which can be accessed just by moving the gear selector into a separate gate.

Moreover, moving the gear selector forward or rearward will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, thereby providing better driver control. Likewise, the SE trim will feature paddle shifters mounted in the steering wheel. Drivers will be able to see the gear currently being used on the LCD readout on the instrument panel. With this new gearbox, Hyundai has become one of the a few carmakers that have designed their own six-speed automatic transmissions.

The South Korean carmaker developed this new transmission over a four-year period. Hyundai's A6MF2 transmission features a distinct layout that made it smaller, more compact and lighter than other six-speed gearboxes available on the market. In terms of fuel economy in the Sonata, this new automatic transmission returns 35 mpg highway, compared to just 32 mpg highway for the manual gearbox.

Furthermore, the gearbox features no dipstick since it is filled with automatic transmission fluid that is considered beneficial to the vehicle's life under normal usage conditions – which means this cuts maintenance costs. Interestingly, the new six-speed automatic is 26.4 lbs, lighter than the five-speed gearbox it is replacing. Moreover, it is 1.6 inches shorter and has 62 fewer parts – which means it is more durable yet lighter and less expensive.

With the addition of a sixth gear, there is a tighter spacing between gear ratios, which allow for a better balance between performance and fuel economy. Also, the wide overall gear ratio allows for stronger acceleration.

The new six-speed automatic features three planetary gear sets as well as a flat torque converter that made the unit shorter by 0.47 inches. Additionally, four pinion differentials allow for improved durability and help the unit retain its compact size. On the other hand, the new six-speed transmission features adjustment screws in the valves, thereby allowing each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory.

This allows Hyundai to prevent any fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure that could affect shift precision and quality, since possible production deviations of the solenoid valves could result to such fluctuations. Supporting the dynamic character of the engine is an advanced four-wheel independent suspension system that allows the Sonata (GLS and Limited models) to offer agile ride, precise handling and steering response.

The front and rear axles of the Sonata are supported by MacPherson strut and multi-link suspension systems, respectively. The rear suspension employs aluminum components for lighter weight as well as enhanced suspension performance.

Moreover, all four wheels are controlled by coil springs, stabilizer bars and fade-resistant gas-charged dampers. Hyundai also optimized the Sonata's suspension for better stability even when cornering. The Sonata GLS and Limited models run on advanced low-rolling resistance tires that do not only allow for better ride and handling but also help enhance their fuel economy.

Press Release

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Beginning with the 2011 Sonata and 2010 Tucson projects, Hyundai designers set to work about three and half years ago on Fluidic Sculpture. Fluidic Sculpture is a consistent, cohesive design language that will ripple through the entire Hyundai showroom. In developing the initial Sonata sketches, Hyundai designers considered the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion. Inspired by nature, Fluidic Sculpture injects sophistication and dynamic angles into the shape of a vehicle and now serves as the core of Hyundai's future design identity. The exterior of the all-new Sonata is long, light and low. The high beltline allows for a long, sleek roofline accented by the third window. A monoform side profile includes flowing lines highlighted by a Hyundai signature chrome accent that spans the length of the car. Normally, this type of trim is only found around the windows. On the new Sonata, this trim extends out from the headlamps, juts up along the hood and through the beltline. The face is bold with a large powerful chrome grille and headlamps that integrate precise details. The stance is completed by 16-, 17- or 18-inch multi-spoke wheels. The sophisticated look continues inside where Hyundai has created an upscale ambiance thanks to a flow-through center console and instrument panel. These flowing surfaces complement the exterior design and wrap around the driver and passengers.

HYUNDAI PACKAGING EFFICIENCY The sleek design, combined with Hyundai's expertise in interior packaging, has produced an interior that delivers class-leading comfort, functionality and practicality. A sleek roofline typically compromises headroom and interior volume but, at 120.2 cubic feet, the Sonata has the most interior volume of its key competitors. It is so spacious, Sonata continues to be classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Large car, truly a "class above" Camry, Altima, Fusion and Malibu (all are categorized as Midsize cars). Even in trunk room, the Sonata shines. Sonata's 16.4 cu. ft. of trunk space gives it a 9.3 percent advantage over the Camry, and a 17.1 percent advantage over Accord.

ADVANCED POWERTRAINS The new Sonata will launch with Hyundai's new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) fuel delivery system, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Sonata is the first midsize sedan to adopt GDI technology as standard equipment in a naturally aspirated powertain. This shorter, more direct path of fuel delivery, allows for greater control of the fuel mixture at the optimum moment, thus improving efficiency. The fuel is injected by a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates at pressures up to 2,175 psi. Direct injection also utilizes a higher than normal 11.3:1 compression ratio for increased power. The pistons are dished to increase combustion efficiency in the cylinder. This powerplant will deliver best-in-class fuel economy, best-in-class four-cylinder horsepower and best-in-class torque. Sonata delivers an impressive 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway estimated fuel economy rating* with the available six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC . (When equipped with the six-speed manual, the Sonata achieves an estimated 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway fuel economy rating). The preliminary horsepower and torque ratings for the Theta II GDI are 198 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. In the SE trim which includes a standard dual exhaust, the engine delivers 200 horsepower. This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS) for better engine breathing. A version of this engine also meets Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards. Next year, Hyundai will add a 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and a 2.4-liter Hybrid Blue Drive model featuring Hyundai's breakthrough lithium polymer battery pack. Details about these powertrains will be announced at the 2010 New York Auto Show. Sonata's innovative segment first powertrain lineup is a key driver of Hyundai's goal to be the most fuel-efficient automaker on the planet.

SIX-SPEED AUTOMATIC AND MANUAL TRANSMISSIONS Hyundai's commitment to making the Sonata extremely fuel efficient continues with a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control or a standard six-speed manual transaxle. Hyundai's all-new six-speed automatic A6MF2 transaxle helps the company meet its goals of improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Shifts are silky-smooth with an option of manual control through the SHIFTRONIC feature. Drivers can access the SHIFTRONIC feature by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forward or pulling it rearward will shift the transmission up or down sequentially, adding to driver control. The SE trim will also feature steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A clear LCD readout on the instrument panel shows the gear being used. Designed for transverse engine applications in passenger cars and SUVs, the new compact transmission puts Hyundai into an elite class of auto manufacturers who have designed their own proprietary six-speed automatic transmissions. The strength of the design is its unique layout which makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than any other six-speed transmission on the market today. For the customer, the new six-speed delivers a performance edge. In this application, it helps brings a nine percent gain in fuel economy (35 mpg* versus 32 mpg). The gearbox has no dipstick because it is filled with automatic transmission fluid that is good for the life of the vehicle under normal usage conditions, thereby reducing maintenance costs. Developed over a four-year period, this new six-speed automatic is 26.4 pounds lighter than the five-speed it replaces. It also is 1.6 inches shorter and considerably simpler, having 62 fewer parts, which is a key to increased durability, lighter weight and lower cost. When it comes to transmissions, more gears are definitely better. The addition of a sixth gear enables closer spacing between gear ratios providing a better balance of performance and fuel economy while the wide overall gear ratio helps deliver strong acceleration. The gearbox has three planetary gearsets and a unique flat torque converter that shortens the unit's overall length by 0.47 inches. Four pinion differentials improve durability and further minimize size. Another example of engineering ingenuity is found in the design of the hydraulic pressure control unit. Slight manufacturing deviations from one solenoid valve to the next often times cause fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure and affect shift precision and quality. The transmission featured in the Sonata cleverly integrates adjustment screws in the valves that enable each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory. This feature ensures stable hydraulic pressure at any shift point which facilitates a high degree of precision and control needed to deliver fast, smooth and precise shifts throughout the rpm range.

SUPPLE RIDE, AGILE HANDLING An advanced four-wheel independent suspension system combines a supple ride with precise handling and steering response for Sonata GLS and Limited models. Sonata uses MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems with increased travel for improved wheel control and a smoother ride. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs, fade-resistant gas-charged dampers and stabilizer bars. The suspension has been optimized to keep the vehicle flat during corning and provide quick turn-in response. The rear suspension uses aluminum components to reduce weight and improve suspension performance. The GLS and Limited models also use advanced low-rolling resistance tires to improve fuel economy while maintaining good ride and handling performance. The Sonata SE is an even more exciting and willing partner for drivers who prefer sportier ride and handling dynamics. The sport-tuned suspension features stiffer springs and larger stabilizer bars, resulting in a 20 percent increase in roll stiffness. Unique SE dampers, including monotube shocks in the rear are used to control the more aggressive suspension. Low profile 18-inch tires round out the unique chassis components of the Sonata SE. All Sonatas have column-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering that adjusts instantly to changing driving conditions while improving fuel economy over a conventional steering system. A quick-ratio steering rack is used for crisp feel on turn-in. Sonata's turning diameter of 35.8 feet is better than Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion and Malibu.

WORLD CLASS POWER-TO-WEIGHT RATIO One of the program targets for the 2011 Sonata engineering team was world-class power-to-weight ratio. Power-to-weight ratio pays dividends in both performance and fuel economy. The 2011 Sonata is 25 percent stiffer in torsion and 19 percent stiffer in bending rigidity than its predecessor, yet it is lighter than many midsize sedans, also offering more interior room. This focus on power-to-weight ratio pays dividends across the board. The Sonata owes its ability to deliver both strong performance and excellent fuel economy in great part to its impressive power-to-weight efficiency.

ADVANCED STANDARD SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES: PART OF HYUNDAI'S ASSURANCE COMMITMENT Sonata is built from the ground up with safety in mind, with a hot stamped ultra-high-strength steel body structure, advanced airbag technology and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), delivering on Hyundai's commitment to both active and passive safety technology leadership. The prior generation Sonata was the first midsize sedan with standard ESC when it launched in March of 2005. ESC was not standard equipment on Honda Accord until the 2008 model year and the 2010 model year for Toyota Camry. Once again every 2011 Sonata has lifesaving ESC as standard equipment. This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that ESC results in 35 percent fewer single-vehicle crashes and 30 percent fewer single-vehicle fatalities in passenger cars. The Sonata also features a state-of-the-art braking package. The package includes four-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) including Brake Assist, which provides maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to automatically adjust the braking force to front and rear axles based on the vehicle loading conditions. Sonata features six airbags-including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags-along with active front-seat head restraints. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is projected to earn the NHTSA's top rating of five-stars for front and side impacts. Other passive safety features include shingle-style rear-seat head restraints for improved visibility, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and a rear-seat Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for child seats.

2011 SONATA OFFERS FOUR UNIQUE AUDIO ENVIRONMENTS An AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers comes standard in the Sonata GLS and SE. AM/FM/XM/ DVD/MP3 audio system with touch-screen navigation and Dimension premium sound with subwoofer and external amplifier is optional on the GLS and SE models. The Limited model comes standard with an AM/FM/XM/6-disc CD-changer/MP3 with HD Radio Technology and Dimension premium sound. The optional AM/FM/XM/DVD/MP3 audio system with touch-screen navigation that includes a 400-watt external amplifier system on the Limited comes with Infinity audio.

DIMENSION AUDIO SYSTEMS Dimension is a new branded audio system created by Hyundai Mobis and features a Variable Equalizer with normal, dynamic and concert settings. The last generation equalizer provided only one fixed sound field. The new Variable Equalizer, tuned by renowned audiophile Ken Pholmann, is a function for controlling the sound qualities sensed by listeners. For example, Pohlmann added bass response to the concert mode typically not found in other systems.

INFINITY AUDIO SYSTEM Audio enthusiasts with even more demanding tastes will be impressed by the AM/FM/XM/DVD/MP3 audio system with touch-screen navigation that includes a 400-watt external amplifier, dedicated Dual Voice Coil (DVC) subwoofer, eight-channels and nine Infinity speakers available on the Limited. Infinity and Hyundai engineers worked together during the early stages of development to integrate the speakers into Sonata's interior. The team spent hundreds of hours fine-tuning the system for the cabin's unique acoustic attributes.

XM, HD RADIO TECHNOLOGY, BLUETOOTH AND TOUCH-SCREEN NAVIGATION DELIVER UNRIVALED MIDSIZE SEDAN TECHNOLOGY CHOICES 2011 Sonata comes standard with three months of XM Satellite Radio, real-time XM NavTraffic and XM Data Services Sonata also will be the first popular midsize sedan to offer the clarity of digital HD Radio Technology from the factory First vehicle in its class to offer a Bluetooth hands-free phone system standard Standard auxiliary iPod/USB inputs allow drivers to fully control and charge iPods directly from the head unit Touch-screen navigation is available on all trim levels and includes a high-resolution screen. This system provides new features including Bluetooth streaming audio capability. This easy-to-use unit can be controlled via 6.5-inch WVGA touchscreen or voice-activation by headliner-mounted microphone. The system features 8GB of flash memory and comes matched with a sound system that plays compact discs, accesses digital music files via Bluetooth streaming audio or allows driver and passenger to access their personal listening devices through the iPod/USB/auxiliary inputs. Bluetooth audio wirelessly streams music from select mobile phones to the head unit. Also, with a Bluetooth-enabled phone one can look up a local restaurant and call for reservations before plotting the route. The XM Satellite Radio interface is also integrated into the navigation unit and features channel logos, real-time NavTraffic and XM Data services such as WX Satellite Weather, XM Stock Ticker and XM Sports Ticker. The system is also updateable via the USB.

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