Hyundai aims for a bigger share of the Middle East’s medium-to-large sedan market
Hyundai is aiming to take a bigger share of the market for medium and large sedans in the Middle East, with an All-new Azera and updated Sonata both offering dramatic new looks and giving the brand a big boost in showroom appeal during the transition to the 2018 model year.
The Korean carmaker launched the sixth-generation Azera in GCC markets in May, with a luxury specification and a large V6 engine option unique to the region. This will be followed by a revised version of the seventh-generation Sonata to be launched in August, which includes major changes to the car’s bodywork for a radical change in appearance.
“Our bigger cars already sell well, but we can achieve more,” said Mike Song, Hyundai’s Head of Operations for Africa and the Middle East. “Just as we have already done with small cars – the Accent and Elantra – and with SUVs, it is time for Hyundai to move from being a popular alternative for large sedans and become a natural market leader. The new Azera and Sonata are the right cars to do that.”
The Azera and Sonata each offer a step forward in design and technology, and are a dramatic expression of Hyundai’s evolving design language. This includes the company’s new signature Cascading Grille, which will become a unifying feature across the Hyundai range.
For the Azera, the grille is part of a bold, completely new body that moves beyond the brand’s highly successful ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language.
The revised Sonata retains the central structure of the model’s ‘LF’ generation, on sale since 2014, but with extensive changes to the sheet-metal that go far beyond the scope of the typical facelift. All panels forward of the front screen are redesigned, while to the rear the trunk lid, bumper and rear lamps are all new, as is the molding for the sill below the doors. Clever attention to detail makes the car look lower, wider and longer than before, giving the Sonata a more dynamic stance.
“This is one of the best updates to an existing design that I have ever seen,” said Mike Song. “We are calling it a facelift, but the look of the car is changing so much that it could almost be a new model. It certainly gives customers much more than a few small detail changes.”
In terms of technology, both the Azera and the updated Sonata include new convenience and connectivity features, such as Apple Car Play, which is available in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, wireless smartphone charging, and remote engine starter.
The Azera also includes Hyundai’s ‘Smart Sense’ package of driver assistance features. Developed as part of research into autonomous vehicles, Smart Sense can automatically detect hazards and responds to help the driver avoid a collision.