Turbochargers are coming on strong from every corner of the automotive world as automakers scramble to meet the newly-announced CAFE fleet-wide mileage standard of 34.1 mpg by 2016. I love turbochargers, as they represent a compromise between horsepower and fuel efficiency. Plus, they are incredibly fun when you punch your foot into the pedal.
Hyundai really likes turbochargers too. So much, in fact, that they look to be setting a new standard both in power, and fuel efficiency, with their Sonata 2.0T. With 274 horsepower on tap and an MPG rating of 34 on the highway, the new Sonata is going to be the car to beat.
Yes, you read that right. 274 horsepower, and 34 mpg from a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine. The city rating for the car is 22 mpg, not great, but not terrible either. Most mid-size cars like the Camry, Fusion, and Accord don’t make that much power even out of their V6 engines, and yet the Sonata manages to do it… on regular fuel. If you are unfamiliar with turbochargers, you may not know that many turbocharged cars (though not all) require premium fuel to avoid engine knock. So achieving 274 horsepower (and 269 ft-lbs of torque!) while running on regular fuel is a pretty big deal.
Another problem typical of turbocharged engines is that they take a long time, usually 3,000-3,500 rpms to make big power. Not so with the Sonata. The twin-scroll turbocharger makes most of its power in between 1,800 and 4,500 rpm, meaning as soon as the stab the throttle, the car goes like it was intended to. Unfortunately, the Sonata is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission… a disappointment for those of us who prefer a bit more control over our car.
Another reservation I have is how this front-wheel drive car will handle that power, without torque steer (where the power of the car literally turns it). Still, I can’t wait to take one of these bad boys for a test drive.