Coming up in just a few short days will be the official reveal of Hyundai's Sonata Hybrid Blue Drive (HBD), along with a high-line 2.0 liter turbocharged Sonata at the New York Auto Show.
Unlike the Camry and Civic hybrids which are barely distinguishable from their conventional counterparts, the Sonata Hybrid gets a completely new front fascia. The new look adds a massive lower grille inspired by the Blue-Will Concept that shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January. This looks much better than the overly chromed fascia of the regular Sonata in my opinion.
It is believe the Sonata hybrid will retain the same 2.4-liter direct injected inline-four found in the sedans that are on sale now. However, it may be re-tuned to operate on the more efficient Atkinson cycle like other hybrids. The hybrid system will make use of LG Chem's air-cooled lithium polymer batteries, which is considered to be more stable and flame resistant than the lithium ion cells version that uses liquid electrolyte. Unlike the gas-electrics from Honda and Toyota, Hyundai's system is expected to use a conventional six-speed automatic gearbox in conjunction with a 30 kilowatt electric motor. I guess this will give the Sonata hybrid an edge in driving pleasure as compared to the competitors' CVT equipped models.
The Sonata hybrid and a range-topping gasoline 2.0-liter turbo model will both be revealed during a live video webcast on HyundaiMediaLive.com at 1:35pm on Wednesday, March 31. I am looking forward to the 2.0 turbo model, which is expected to incorporate both direct injection and continuous variable valve timing technologies and is good for around 200bhp.