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Hyundai's Bold Design Aims To Rescue The Midsize Car

Hyundai’s bold design aims to rescue the midsize car

Ed Loh

In a high-walled interior courtyard within Hyundai’s Namyang design studio, a team of Hyundai designers pulled back silk drapes on a pair of 2020 Sonatas—a red sedan equipped with a 1.6-liter turbo-four Smart Stream engine and a gray version powered by Hyundai’s new Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder (also dubbed Smart Stream).

Underneath resided a very smooth looking vehicle—one that draws immediate comparisons to the latest Aston Martin styling, as well as specific models from Porsche (Panamera) and Mercedes (AMG GT four-door coupe).

Yes, I’m serious. These were the first brands and models that popped in my head when I saw the car in the metal. If you disagree, it’s because the pictures don’t do the car justice. When viewed in person, the Sonata reveals itself as a monumental achievement of proportion and linework. The look is striking yet very sophisticated. It’s also surprisingly subtle when you review the numbers.

Compared to the sixth-generation 2011 Sonata that Hyundai considers a landmark for its Fluidic Design language, Hyundai engineers added 1.7 inches in overall length to the 2020 Sonata along with nearly an inch in width. Height drops by 1.2 inches, and the wheelbase increases by 1.4. As a result, the 2020 Sonata is now easily within an inch of contemporary competitors Honda Accord and Toyota Camry in every key dimension. Yet it looks so different. How?

The design team, led by SangYup Lee, Hyundai’s new global head of design, didn’t just sweat the 2020 Sonata’s sensuous and sporty proportions with millimetric precision. They also put thought and effort into the lines and open spaces.

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August 2019

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