Hyundai plans to build downsized Sonata Lite to be positioned above the Elantra sedan for China
South Korean automaker wants to make a bigger impact in China and for this, the car maker is said to be developing a brand new sedan, to be positioned between the Elantra and the Sonata. The “Sonata-Lite” as this sedan is currently known as is expected to be a downsized variant of the Sonata E-segment sedan. The Sonata Lite will be cheaper than the Sonata and is expected to borrow plenty of parts from the Elantra to keep costs low. That said, it will be roomier and bigger than the Elantra, to operate in an all new segment, like the Nissan Sylphy, which will be the Sonata Lite’s main competition in the Chinese domestic market.
For now, the Sonata Lite is said to be China specific model with Hyundai having no plans to launch the car elsewhere in the world. That makes sense as most other markets have specific segments of cars unlike China, where car makers continuously create segments between segments to accommodate the needs of the Chinese car buying populace. Even luxury car makers like Audi, Mercedes Benz and BMW, have build China specific versions of their cars, in the form of long wheelbase versions as Chinese car buyers prefer longer cars in the luxury segment.
So, the Sonata Lite could be yet another model in that vein. The engine options for the Sonata Lite are predominantly expected to be petrol power given that this model is China specific. A 1.6 Liter turbo petrol model from the Veloster and a 1.8 Liter Gas Direct Injection petrol engine borrowed from the Elantra are expected to power the Sonata Lite. Hyundai has been using the 6 speed manual and the 6 speed automatic gearbox in many of its cars like the Elantra and the Verna. So, expect the Sonata Lite to also get these gearbox options.
The Sonata Lite is expected to be launched in China by 2014, and that is around the same time when the next generation Sonata sedan will be launched. This also means that the Sonata Lite could come with a new design philosophy called the “Fluidic Precision” that Hyundai plans to launch with the next generation Sonata. So, expect the new design philosophy in the Sonata Lite as well. China is a car market that every leading car brand in the world wants to have a presence in as the volumes in this market are high.