Vehicles require untold numbers of engineers to go from paper to sheet metallic, so it all the time appears unfair to put the success or failure of 1 on the foot of simply considered one of them. That is the character of management, although. You are taking the win or the loss. Albert Biermann did not personally select the elements and calibrations that make the 2020 Hyundai Sonata N Line drive prefer it does, however his philosophy has been so faithfully executed in the way in which it drives that it is unattainable to not acknowledge his affect.
Biermann, because it has been extensively reported, is a veteran of BMW. Earlier than his hiring at Hyundai, it could have been hyperbole to match the way in which a Sonata drives to a BMW as a result of that wasn’t what Hyundai was going for, however now, issues are completely different. Now, the brand new Sonata has a distinctly Germanic really feel, and the brand new N Line efficiency trim particularly so.
Patterned after German automakers’ methods, N Line is a avenue grade efficiency trim moderately than a full boat observe package deal. These are branded simply “N,” and the Sonata is not slated for a kind of fashions. As a substitute, the N Line trim packages a much bigger, stouter engine, dual-clutch transmission, bigger brake rotors with efficiency pads, and stiffer suspension bushings and dampers.
On this case, it is a new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder making about 290 horsepower and 310 lb-ft (topic to remaining calibration). It is successfully a turbocharged model of the Sonata’s new base 2.5-liter Smartstream I-Four and can present up quickly in different merchandise from the Hyundai household of manufacturers. Backing it up is a brand new eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission (DCT)—not associated to the bottom automotive’s new eight-speed automated or Hyundai’s present seven-speed twin clutch.
That is good as a result of the seven-speed has lengthy had points partaking its clutches easily at low speeds, and even on this prototype, the brand new eight-speed DCT has no such problem. Even when loafing round city, it engages easily sufficient to be mistaken for a extra widespread torque converter automated and shifts up and down easily and shortly.
An engineer using alongside tells us the calibration is not completed, and options like launch management and automated rev matching aren’t put in, however even pushed exhausting it is troublesome to inform something is lacking. Slotted into its most aggressive Sport Plus driving mode, the transmission selects gears neatly sufficient to make the steering wheel paddles superfluous. When you select to make use of them anyway, they reply instantly. As of proper now, there is not any approach to lock the transmission in guide mode (it’s going to revert to automated if you have not used a paddle shortly), and it will mechanically upshift at redline, however that is topic to alter.
The transmission’s cleverness pairs significantly nicely with this engine, whose energy supply is decidedly nonlinear. It begins out linear, rising gently from idle to three,000 rpm and offering ample torque for getting you thru your commute. From 3,000 to five,000, although, it takes off like a rocket with a fats surge of energy that makes the automotive really feel faster than it doubtless is. A tough stopwatch check suggests the N Line will hit 60 mph in 6.0-6.5 seconds, roughly two seconds earlier than a typical Sonata with the optionally available turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.
The transmission primarily bifurcates these two behaviors, so that you get both regular driving habits or large energy however do not feel the transition because the turbo spools up. Drive calmly, and the automotive responds in form, however put your foot down and also you get all of it. Understanding what the automotive has in it, Regular mode can really feel only a tad lazy when you like sporty driving, however you possibly can coax it with a heavy proper foot. Sport mode is a tad aggressive for driving round city, however if you need that sport sedan really feel, it is good. Sport Plus is again highway stuff, for once you actually wish to benefit from the experience.
Equally, the brand new brake tune is only a tad aggressive in metropolis driving. The preliminary chunk is about good, however as you get about midway into the pedal’s journey, the braking energy abruptly will increase and you must be a little bit cautious to not jerk your passengers round at a cease. Hyundai tells us the ultimate brake pad compound remains to be being determined, so this, too, is topic to alter. Maybe the ultimate formulation will not odor fairly as a lot after a little bit of exhausting driving, both.
The engineers may additionally change the damping a little bit, but it surely does not want a lot. The firmness is commensurate with a sport sedan and actually solely makes itself recognized on patchy pavement. It means each sealed crack within the highway is felt within the cabin, virtually as if the wheels are actually heavy and the suspension is filtering as a lot as it could possibly. It is utterly forgivable, although, due to the dealing with it provides you.
In the most effective Germanic custom, the Sonata N Line feels exceptionally planted at excessive velocity. The automotive sinks down into the highway like the most effective sports activities sedans and is not fazed in any respect by bumps and jolts. On the freeway, it makes you wish to set the cruise management at triple-digit speeds and simply cruise, carefree. On a winding highway, you barely brake for lengthy sweepers because the automotive stays completely composed. Tighter turns encourage you to push the automotive a bit and put a smile in your face in a manner you do not anticipate a mainstream midsize household sedan to.
So nicely behaved was this automotive, we regularly neglect it was even a prototype, not less than till we seen the odd seems to be from different drivers confused by the camouflage wrap. Hyundai says there’s nonetheless work to be carried out, but it surely does not really feel like there’s a lot left to do from behind the wheel. Nonetheless a lot it’s, we’ll get the ultimate product within the fall as a 2021 mannequin, doubtless within the vary of $30,000 to begin.
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