Hyundai Sonata 2011 launched in the UAE
The swoopy new 2011 Hyundai Sonata was officially launched in the UAE, at a launch party in Dubai. The launch comes four months after the model was shown off at the 2009 Dubai Motor Show, and two months after a media driving event in Oman that we weren’t invited to.
The front-wheel-drive 2011 Sonata is new from the ground up, being longer and wider than before, as well as lower to accommodate that intense “four-door coupe” profile. While we always thought that the car is over-stylised, it looks phenomenal in person, looking more premium than anything else in the segment.
The big bombshell came in terms of the engines on offer. Instead of the impressive 200 hp 2.4-litre 4-cylinder motor with direct injection offered in the U.S. version, the GCC market will receive two engines, one a 176 hp 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, and later on, a 163 hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, with available 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmissions. It looks like the UAE will initially only get the 2.4-litre with an automatic, which is competitive in its class, but not class-leading. But in true Hyundai fashion, there’s something for everyone in the range.
For the cheapskates, the base model comes with power steering, power windows, manual a/c with rear cooling ducts, automatic headlights, paddle shifters, power mirrors with indicators, fog lamps, leatherette-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, CD/MP3 stereo with 6 speakers, USB and AUX ports with iPod cable, steering wheel buttons, 16-inch steel wheels and a single airbag.
The mid-range model gains a panoramic glass roof, with automatic rolling cloth roof-shades. It also gains 17-inch alloy wheels and ABS to go with that all-important single driver-side airbag.
The fully-optioned model is loaded though, with intelligent keyless entry with start button, power-folding mirrors, HID headlights, chrome door handles, automatic a/c, rear parking sensors, overhead ‘map’ lights up front, excellent leather upholstery, driver’s power-adjusted seat, trip computer, slightly-tinted glass, 6-CD changer, “amplitude selective dampers,” 18-inch alloys and finally, stability control and six airbags. This would be the only version we’d recommend.
In the press release, there is some mention of “standard” six airbags, hill-start assist, brake assist and even rear heated seats, but we don’t see these listed in the official UAE dealer website.
Our first impressions of the cabin were favourable. The soft-touch and leather bits are excellent in terms of material quality. However, due to the complicated cabin design, some of the hard-plastic bits on the doors extend up to the upper door sills, which kills the premium feel. Also, the dashboard dome over the gauges is hard-plastic. The rest of the plastics are within class standards. Headroom front as well as rear is surprisingly good, although rear legroom is about average. The luggage trunk is enormous. And build quality is flawless.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata starts at Dhs 67,900 in the UAE, likely the 2.4-litre with automatic. It should also be available in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries shortly. Photos by Faisal Khatib.
Keep track of specs and prices in the Hyundai Sonata buyer guide.