This is the US-market Hyundai Sonata hybrid. If it looks familiar, thats because mechanically its near-identical to the car maker's i40 saloon.
We dont currently get a hybrid version of the i40, and while there are no plans for it to come to Europe as yet, it'll be close to this when it does.
The Sonata hybrid is powered by a 164bhp 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that combines with a 30kw electric motor to boost power to 204bhp. Unusually for a hybrid, this all goes through a conventional six-speed automatic gearbox.
Average fuel economy translated to European figures should be around 44.4mpg. By comparison, an i40 diesel averages 55.4mpg, albeit with a manual transmission. That said, while no figures are available, the hybrid should gain more advantage when CO2 emissions and, therefore, taxation bands are taken into account.
Whats the 2012 Hyundai Sonata hybrid like to drive?
Not good especially when it's compared with a European i40 diesel. The petrol-hybrid system works well around town where near-silent cruising is possible, but the problems come when you attempt to extend the engine. Build up the revs and its harsh, noisy and not especially quick. The auto box clings on to gears far too readily as well. It all adds up to an unrefined and unpleasant experience.
The rest of the issues are connected with the US-spec car that we tested. It neither rides, handles, nor steers as sweetly as the European-tuned i40.
Whats the 2012 Hyundai Sonata hybrid like inside?
It looks the same as European models, but certainly doesnt feel the same. The quality of fit and finish isnt as good and the plastics feel harder and look less plush than those in the i40.
The rest is good though, with all the positives of the i40 remaining intact. Theres plenty of space, controls are well laid out and the driving position is good.
Should I buy one?
You cant buy one at the moment, but if Hyundai does decide to import it to Europe our recommendation would still to be to avoid it. Granted, CO2 emissions will impress and so, in turn, will company car tax bills. Youd also have to bank on Hyundai improving the way it drives to suit European roads.
Even then this would be a considerably inferior car to the diesel version, and neither will it serve up equally good fuel economy.
What Car? says