by Iain Curry
AND so it's farewell, big old friend. After five months, 8000km and through hot summer days and cold winter mornings it's time to return our Hyundai Sonata Premium long-term test car.
Having a car for so long makes it feel part of the family, and being able to judge it over the long-term rather than a week-long road test is invaluable.
And the mid-size sedan has surprised me from the outset. It feels in every way a large sedan with superb rear leg room and cavernous 510-litre boot that easily swallows a child's bike, baby stroller and many bags.
So, for parents like me with young kids, it has served as a practical family car. Having previously tested SUVs long-term, the sedan has proved just as practical for family duties. The only slight downside being a lower load height for strapping kids in.
But the positive is it's a true car. By that, I mean its lower centre of gravity (compared to an SUV) ups its handling capabilities, and Hyundai's local team who've optimised the suspension should be highly praised.
I've thoroughly enjoyed hustling it along our winding hinterland roads, and its balance and poise belie its size.
The 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine boasts 180kW and 350Nm and suits the Sonata well, with excellent shove on tap. On paper it's a thirsty thing with a combined economy figure of 9.2-litres/100km, but as the majority of my trips were on the highway, over 8000km I returned an average of 8.1-litres/100km. Knowing how rarely we road testers beat official combined figures, I'm mightily impressed here.
The full Sonata range looks pretty decent value, with the entry level Active at a shade under $30k particularly so. This has a 2.4-litre non-turbo engine, and pretty lean kit, but is still a lot of car for the money.
The mid-range Elite at $36,990 has the turbo engine, leather, electric driver's seat, dual-zone climate and 20cm touch screen with sat nav, and still looks the pick of the range.
That said, the $41,990 Premium I had did have its luxury benefits. 18-inch alloys, panoramic glass roof my three-year old adored, and heated seats were a boon on those winter mornings.
In fact, I've found myself recommending the Sonata to fellow parents, despite it not having some of the active safety systems now becoming commonplace in cars at this price.
And tellingly, now we're back in an SUV, both wife and son have been lamenting the Sonata's absence. Hyundai said we'd be hooked with the Sonata, and on reflection I think we were.
Model: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Premium.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive mid-size sedan.
Engines: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generating maximum power of 180kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 350Nm @ 1400-4000rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Performance: 0-100kmh 7.2 seconds.
Consumption: 9.2 litres/100km.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $41,990.