2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), Front 3/4 Exterior

This is the new Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The socket-rechargable sibling of the regular Hybrid – based on the latest LF Sonata – gains an electric-only mode and will go on sale in selected US states later this year.

You’re gonna have to pay attention to pick out the PHEV – the full-length hexagonal front grille, reshaped headlights, new wheels, clear tail lights and rear diffuser are all shared with the standard Hybrid. The only difference is the large round charging port door on the left front fender, emblazoned with a Blue Drive badge. The drag coefficient figure is an impressive 0.24 Cd, the lowest in the class.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), Rear 3/4 Exterior

The Plug-in Hybrid retains the normal Hybrid’s 154 hp/190 Nm 2.0 litre Nu direct-injected petrol four-pot engine, but is mated to a 32% more powerful electric motor – 67 hp versus 51 hp – that replaces the torque converter on the six-speed automatic transmission. The 9.8 kWh lithium polymer battery pack is also around five times larger than the one on the regular Hybrid.

Total system output for the PHEV is 202 hp at 6,000 rpm, 9 hp more than the Hybrid’s 193 horses. Strangely, in charge sustaining mode it’s slightly less fuel efficient than its sibling, managing 17 km per litre combined compared to 17.8 km per litre on the Hybrid. It does, however, have an all-electric range of 35 km.

Charging the battery takes two and a half hours with a 240 V Level 2 charging station, or five hours with a standard 120 V socket. Owners will be able to manage and monitor their cars using the BlueLink smartphone app, starting the car, locking the doors and scheduling charge times remotely.

The Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be available in the United States in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Customers will be eligible for a US2,500 (RM8,900) fixed federal tax credit, on top of over US$2,000 (RM7,100) worth of variable credits based on battery capacity.

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