Cars require untold numbers of engineers to go from paper to sheet steel, so it at all times appears unfair to put the success or failure of 1 on the foot of simply considered one of them. That’s the character of management, although. You take the win or the loss. Albert Biermann did not personally select the components 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 inconceivable to not acknowledge his affect.
Biermann, because it has been extensively reported, is a veteran of BMW. Before 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 new N Line performance trim particularly so.
Patterned after German automakers’ methods, N Line is a avenue grade efficiency trim reasonably than a full boat observe package deal. Those are branded simply “N,” and the Sonata is not slated for a type of fashions. Instead, the N Line trim packages an even bigger, stouter engine, dual-clutch transmission, bigger brake rotors with efficiency pads, and stiffer suspension bushings and dampers.
In this case, it is a new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder making about 290 horsepower and 310 lb-ft (topic to closing calibration). It’s 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.
This is sweet 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 concern. Even when loafing round city, it engages easily sufficient to be mistaken for a extra frequent torque converter automated and shifts up and down easily and rapidly.
An engineer driving 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 tough to inform something is lacking. Slotted into its most aggressive Sport Plus driving mode, the transmission selects gears well sufficient to make the steering wheel paddles superfluous. If you select to make use of them anyway, they reply instantly. As of proper now, there is no option 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 vary.
The transmission’s cleverness pairs notably 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 seemingly is. A tough stopwatch take a look at suggests the N Line will hit 60 mph in 6.0-6.5 seconds, roughly two seconds ahead of a typical Sonata with the non-obligatory turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.
The transmission primarily bifurcates these two behaviors, so that you get both regular driving habits or huge energy however do not feel the transition because the turbo spools up. Drive flippantly, and the automotive responds in sort, however put your foot down and also you get all of it. Knowing what the automotive has in it, Normal mode can really feel only a tad lazy in case you like sporty driving, however you’ll be able to coax it with a heavy proper foot. Sport mode is a tad aggressive for driving round city, however if you’d like that sport sedan really feel, it is good. Sport Plus is again street stuff, for if you actually wish to benefit from the experience.
Similarly, the brand new brake tune is only a tad aggressive in metropolis driving. The preliminary chew is about excellent, however as you get about midway into the pedal’s journey, the braking energy immediately will increase and it’s important to be somewhat 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 vary. Perhaps the ultimate system will not odor fairly as a lot after a little bit of exhausting driving, both.
The engineers may additionally change the damping somewhat, nevertheless it 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 street is felt within the cabin, virtually as if the wheels are actually heavy and the suspension is filtering as a lot as it may possibly. It’s 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 pace. The automotive sinks down into the street 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 street, 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 means you do not count on a mainstream midsize household sedan to.
So nicely behaved was this automotive, we regularly overlook it was even a prototype, not less than till we seen the odd seems from different drivers confused by the camouflage wrap. Hyundai says there’s nonetheless work to be accomplished, nevertheless it does not really feel like there’s a lot left to do from behind the wheel. However a lot it’s, we’ll get the ultimate product within the fall as a 2021 mannequin, seemingly within the vary of $30,000 to begin.