Written by: Adil Arif
Photography by: Adil Arif
When I think of a hybrid, the first car that comes to mind is the Toyota Prius - a peculiar looking hatchback with a plain interior and an equally dull driving experience. It’s an enthusiast’s worst nightmare, mine included. I just can’t help but equate a hybrid to being stale and uninspiring. The technology and idea behind it however is interesting, but the hybrid market is so far divided at the moment that if you’re looking for any type of an enjoyable experience you’ll be shelling out large sums of money.
For six figures there are some extreme examples such as the BMW i8, Porsche 918, or even the mighty McLaren P1 – all of which focus on performance and use hybrid technology to aid in speed and lap times rather than maximizing fuel efficiency. And therein lies the current dilemma; there really is no middle ground when it comes to hybrid vehicles.
You have supercars using the technology to enhance their performance and then you have the everyday brands using it to save gas. There needs to be something in the middle - perhaps a family sedan that bridges the gap. There’s got to be something that can provide joy when you put your foot down, maintain excellent gas mileage and offer it at a price for the everyday man. That’s where Hyundai comes into the picture. It’s the value brand, the brand for that everyday man, and the new Sonata Hybrid looks to be a promising car to bridge that gap.
The 2016 Sonata Hybrid continues to build on an excellent reboot from last year’s non-electric Sonata model. New front and rear fascias with improved aerodynamics set the Hybrid apart along with some unique 17-inch wheels to match. Overall, the additions have a more rounded look and are a little softer on the eyes as opposed to the aggressive hard cut lines on last year’s model. The styling changes are subtle, yet it just adds a hint more refinement to produce a classier look.
The cabin is very quiet even with the panoramic sunroof; wind noise is minimal and overall has a high-end German feel to it. Controls are easy to reach and well spaced out while driving, the voice command isn’t half bad, and the fit and finish and faux wood grain trim pieces complete the upscale look.
Where this car really shines however is the way it drives. Powered by a 2-liter four cylinder engine rated at 154 HP and 140 lb-ft of torque, it may not sound like much but add in the extra oomph from the 51 HP electric motor and this hybrid can easily sprint from 0-100km/h in just over 8 seconds.
We have a proper 6-speed automatic transmission to be thankful for as well, whereas everyone else is pairing their hybrid models to a rubberband CVT transmission. The electric motor provides instant torque and my favorite feature on the car was the ability to go fully electric regardless of the speed. There is no physical button to toggle - you have to modulate it with your right foot. If you have enough charge and keep the pedal mildly depressed, the car will stay in full electric mode. Press down harder or switch to sport mode and the gasoline engine will kick right in and it responds very well with more than enough go - not once did I feel short on power.
Braking doesn’t feel very hybrid-like at all, meaning under normal and hard braking, the pedal feel is positively light and easy to modulate. You also don’t hear or feel any disengaging or engaging of the battery charge or regeneration, just a linear feel on the brakes. I point this out specifically because with a lot of hybrid vehicles on the market you can literally feel the entire charging process take place each time you brake. Pedal feel can also be very heavy and difficult to modulate sometimes, but the Sonata Hybrid does an excellent job of masking it.
The suspension is nice and soft, eating up all the bumps and minor imperfections with ease making daily commuting and highway cruising very comfortable. Spirited driving on the other hand may not be the Sonata Hybrid’s forte but it still yields a satisfying smile. Body-roll is reasonable and steering response is excellent with great feedback.
Here we are again, we’ve mentioned it time and time again how much we love Hyundai’s new fleet of reimagined vehicles and the 2016 Sonata Hybrid is right up there. It’s a classy and comfortable sedan that doesn’t suck the soul out of driving while maintaining great fuel economy. I averaged 6.4 L/100km by the end of the week with a mixture of heavy city and highway traffic.
Pricing for the Hybrid starts at $29,649 before any fees or taxes and our as-tested Limited Edition rings in at $33,799. There is also an Ultimate Edition which goes for $37,499 with added features such as an upgraded stereo, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear parking sensors, start-stop, and front ventilated seats. In our opinion however, the Limited trim is the better buy; the existing stereo is excellent and adding start-stop technology to a Hybrid vehicle just seems excessive. The other features are nice to have but honestly with the large windows, viewing angles and excellent seating position, the Sonata is a car that’s very hard to make a mistake in.
In this extremely tight market there are really only a handful of hybrid sedans to choose from: the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, all of which are priced and spec’d similarly to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Take your pick of the litter, but it's safe to say that Hyundai has become a very serious player in the game and gone are the days of ridiculing. The way that the Sonata drives, feels, and looks greatly distinguish it from other automakers, especially when you’re looking at the qualities on paper alone.
It’s cars like these that are also slowly beginning to bridge the gap between super fuel-efficient and super-exotic cars, which only makes it more exciting to what we can expect in the future. But at the moment if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient five-passenger sedan with enough flair and driving excitement to keep you awake on your morning commute, be sure to take a look at the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – you won’t be disappointed.
型号 Model: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
顏色 Paint Type: Night Sky Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $29,649
試車售價 Price as Tested: $33,799
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,805
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,855 / 1,865 / 1,470
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,655
引擎 Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-valve inline-four cylinder engine with D-CVVT and GDI
Hybrid System: Lithium-ion battery with 51 hp electric motor @ 1,770 - 2,000 rpm
最大馬力 Horsepower: 154 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最大馬力 Combined Horsepower: 193 @ 6,000 rpm (net)
最高扭力 Torque: 140 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut with coil springs and gas-charged dampers
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link (4) with coil springs and gas-charged dampers
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: 305 mm x 25 mm ventilated rotors, 1-piston calipers
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 284 mm x 10 mm solid rotors, 1-piston calipers
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km : 6.0 / 5.5 / 5.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/55R17