Hyundai is trying to anoint this coming August 2012 as National Fuel Efficiency Month, and is petitioning Washington to focus the national attention to improving cars' fuel economy. I propose that one of the best ways to do that is by petitioning Hyundai to start selling us the higher-efficiency models in their worldwide fleet.
Hyundai crows that its Sonata Hybrid gets 40 mpg on the highway (35 mpg in the city, 37 mpg combined). It's also $5000 more expensive than the regular Sonata (in the GLS trim, see table below). Real drivers report an average of 30 mpg for the non-hybrid Sonata; that's good for the gas prices of the last decade. But to move forward we need to do better than that.
In Australia, the Sonata is known as the Hyundai i45, and comes with the same engines as those available in the US, a 2.0L MPI and a 2.4L GDI. But there Hyundai also offers the i40, just four inches shorter than the Sonata/i45, both in Sedan and Tourer (wagon) versions.
The Hyundai i40 is also offered in Europe in Saloon (sedan) and Tourer (wagon) versions; but the larger i45 is not for sale there. From the exterior, the i40 Saloon is obviously from the same family as the Sonata; the i40 Tourer is just an inch longer but its body is more elongated, with a lot of space in the back for a cello (or two). They both come with the same choice of engines, including a sweet 1.7L diesel engine that does a demonstrated 37 mpg if you drive it with the 6-speed automatic transmission. Choosing a manual transmission and the Blue Drive version gets you to 43 mpg in real life driving conditions reported by owners.
The Blue Drive package includes Intelligent Stop & Go, low rolling resistance tires and a clever Alternator Management System. The sippiest (i.e. smallest) Hyundai models with Blue Drive get just 99g CO2/km (try to get those to the US!), which is good for a waiver of many UK taxes including the steep London congestion tax, all of which depend on the car's carbon emission. The i40 doesn't qualify for the waiver, falling in the "C" emissions class, with a fuel economy close to the average for new cars sold in Europe in 2011.
Both the 1.7 Blue Drive Manual and the 1.7 Automatic transmission are priced about £ 1000 ($ 1550) more than the 1.7 Manual transmission. But the Blue Drive package gives better mileage, which pays you back through the lifetime of the car.
Of course the 1.7L diesel engine in the i40 Blue Drive puts out less horsepower (134HP) than the 2.4L in the US Sonata (198HP). However, because it's diesel, it kicks a torque of 240 lb-ft, quite a bit more than the 184 lb-ft on the Sonata. The torque is where the fun is. And the 134HP is still enough to get you up to 125 mph, or nearly twice the speed limit on most Interstate highways. Meaning, enough to help you acquire plenty of speeding tickets.
How about it: want to contact Hyundai and ask for their gas sippers?
Hyundai Sonata / i40 / i40 tourer
1.7 CRDi BlueDrive
|Emissions rating||ULEV||EURO5 "G"||EURO5 "C"|
|MSRP||$ 20,895||£ 21,701||£ 21,916|
|City/Hwy quoted||24 / 35 mpg||7.6 / 5.1 L/100km||5.3 / 4.1
|Avg. quoted||28 mpg||6.0 L/100km
|Avg. actual||30mpg (2012)||37 mpg (2011)||43 mpg|
|1.7L 16 vlv
@ 4000 rpm
|Transmission||6-spd Auto||6-spd Auto||6-spd Manual|
|Length, mm(in)||189.8in (4820)||4740mm||4770mm|
|Width, mm(in)||72.2in (1834mm)||1815mm||1815mm|
|Height, mm(in)||57.9in (1471mm)||1470mm||1470mm|
|Weight, kg(lbs)||3199lbs (1451kg)||1507 kg||1648 kg|
|Trunk volume, liters(cuft)||16.4 cuft
|505 L||553 / 1719 L|
|Turning radius, m(ft)||35.8 ft c-c||10.9m (35.9ft)||10.9m|
|Top speed, kph(mph)||125 mph|