Recently Fleet Auto News drove the new 2015 Sonata Active sedan and we must say, having never spent a lot of time in Korean cars, it was pleasantly surprising at what a capable car it is.
It’s very comfortable to drive, the 2.4 litre GDi engine coupled to a six speed auto transmission complete with Sport and Eco modes, provides effortless and responsive performance whether cruising the freeway or zipping about in city traffic.
The car rides well on 17” alloy wheels fitted with 215/55R17 94V Nexen tyres including a full size alloy spare which is rare these days. You can tell the extra effort was made to tune the suspension to local conditions.
The cabin insulates the occupants very well from road noise although there was some persistent wind noise at freeway speeds and the engine note is a bit harsh and intrusive under hard acceleration.
Interior wise it’s quite spacious for both front and rear passengers with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room in this mid-sized sedan. However I lament the lack of lumbar support for the driver (available on the premium models) as it does help when you are driving all day.
Rear seat passengers have a drop down centre armrest with cup holders as well as bottle holders moulded in the door side pockets. Front seat occupants also get bottle holders in the doors and cup holders in the centre console, which also has a neat little roller blind to hide them when not in use. The boot space of the car is quite large and a 60/40 split of the rear seat helps with the car’s ability to handle larger loads.
For a base model, the Sonata Active is very well appointed with dual zone climate control, quality sound system and touch screen display with reverse camera. A highlight is the three power outlets (two in the front and one in the back) to power all the gadgets a fleet driver needs like mobile phone, iPad and personal satnav.
We especially liked the idea of a power outlet for rear seat passengers as the kids can have their portable DVD player going or the iPad or Nintendo’s charging without have wires running all over the car interior.
The instrument layout quite good. The dashboard and steering wheel controls are easy to operate and exceptionally well illuminated at night.
There is even a small light next to the sun glasses holder above the driver and passenger. This soft blue glow provides enough illumination at night to see where everything is yet remains unobtrusive and doesn’t interfere with the driver’s night vision.
One oversight, or should we say ‘out of sight’, is the positioning of the digital clock. It’s located below the driver’s eye line or peripheral vision when driving. The Fleet Auto News test drivers consistently found themselves looking down from the road when they wanted to check the time. And the flat flush mount finish of its display often reflects light from the other side of the car so they couldn’t read it anyway.
The Bluetooth connection to a mobile phone is very easy to set up and automatically reconnects each time you get in without being prompted. The steering wheel controls and touchscreen ease of operation meant there is no excuse to touch your phone when driving, although we did find the 4.3” screen rather small.
Overall the 2015 Sonata Active offers a great combination of space, comfort and power. It would meet the needs of a fleet driver travelling 40,000 kilometres each year or a novated vehicle for someone that needs space but doesn’t want an SUV or larger car.