Hyundai Sonata Saloon review (2005-2011)
The big Hyundai is detached, dull and hard to recommend.
Driving On good surfaces, the Hyundai rides well, and the lack of wind and road noise gives it the feel of a limousine. But over bumpy surfaces, it quickly loses its composure. And when it comes to handling, the Sonata’s poor body control and lack of grip mean there are few thrills to be had. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is good though, with impressive refinement at cruising speeds (though its shortcomings are exposed at higher revs). However, it isn’t that quick or responsive, and bogs down between gears when pushed hard. Furthermore, the gearbox isn’t that slick, the clutch is light and the steering lifeless, which makes for a very detached driving experience.
Marketplace The Sonata is very ‘old’ Hyundai. Models like the i30 and Santa Fe show it’s moving upmarket, yet the plain saloon is unadventurous alongside them. It’s forgettable and blends into the background in an increasingly style-led market. It won’t be attracting any Ford Mondeo or Honda Accord buyers, and is set to remain a fringe player. That’s why the model range is small – jus the single well-specified CDX trim, with a choice of three engines. The diesel is by far the best, and is well worth the extra £1,000 over the 2.0-litre petrol.
Owning The cabin is as plain as the exterior, and finished in hard plastic. It is spacious and well-built, though, and boasts comfortable seats, even if they are set too high. The rear is airy and it’s pleasant for passengers, while the boot is practical, with a wide opening. Hyundai certainly equips it well, too, with standard alloys, leather, climate control, ESP and Smartnav navigation all standard. We also like the new integrated stereo set-up – and the more equipment, the merrier, as it’s all guaranteed for five years, thanks to Hyundai’s excellent warranty! The diesel is also economical, returning just under 40mpg in our hands. Sadly, this counts for little when you consider retained values. The big Sonata holds on to just 32.2 per cent of its list price – a poor result, and a measure of its unpopularity. Be sure to haggle for a healthy discount if you buy new!