Last week, we showed you the new 2020 Hyundai Sonata will be launching soon in Malaysia, and now Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) has revealed the price of the eighth-generation D-segment sedan, in conjunction with the opening of order books for the new model (details below).

Prices will start at RM20X,XXX for the new Sonata, which will be CBU fully imported from South Korea. That’s not cheap, but the era of sub-RM150k D-segment sedans is long gone, with the current Toyota Camry setting the marker at RM190k in 2018. The latest Honda Accord was launched earlier this year, topping out at RM196k. The 2.5L Camry is a CBU import from Thailand while the 1.5T Accord is CKD locally assembled – they’re now priced at RM188,763 and RM187,360 respectively with the 2020 sales tax exemption.

The DN8 Sonata for Malaysia is powered by a new Smartstream G2.5 MPI engine. The 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated petrol four-cylinder makes 180 PS at 6,000 rpm and 232 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, all of which goes through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels. The figures are on par with the fellow 2.5L NA in the Camry, just a 4 PS and 3 Nm shy.

But the main reason you’ll consider a Sonata is the way it looks. This latest generation has the wow factor that the sixth-generation YF had years ago, but the previous sober LF lacked. The first car to bear Hyundai’s latest Sensuous Sportiness design language, the big sedan returns to the sleek four-door coupe look.

In front, you’ll find a wide and aggressive Cascading Grille, flanked by slim trapezoidal LED headlights that sweep upwards towards the front wheel arches. The Sonata’s signature chrome bonnet strips take on new functionality as they hide the LED daytime running lights, which disappear from view when turned off thanks to laser-etched perforations. There’s a fade effect and it’s cool.

From the side, you’ll see the sweep of the roofline mirrored in the arching shoulder line, accentuating the car’s concave/convex surfacing. The rear features C-shaped tail lights that resembled the “prawns” on the Honda Civic, but joined together at the bottom. The Sonata rides on 18-inch alloys that are typically Hyundai, which means the design is complex. When you have a chance, check out the knurled effect on the centre caps – such effort!

Intriguing design aside, the Sonata also has presence in terms of size. At 4,900 mm long and 1,890 mm wide, it’s 45 mm longer and 25 mm wider than the LF, while its 2,840 mm wheelbase is 35 mm longer. The DN8 is however 30 mm lower at 1,445 mm, which adds to the car’s dynamic stance. Drag coefficient has been reduced to 0.27, thanks to features like a flat underbody and fins on the tail lights.

The interior is a huge departure from the LF’s weakest point. You’ll find a slim dashboard, a tall centre console and a freestanding infotainment touchscreen. The car you see here sports a nice two-tone colour scheme, with a tan upper dashboard and leather seats. The 8.0-inch touchscreen supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The push-button gear selector is something to impress occupants.

Standard equipment includes keyless entry and push start, powered seats with driver’s side memory, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, auto lights and wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 360-degree camera system. There’s also a cooled Qi wireless charger that keeps your smartphone from overheating.

Safety-wise, the Sonata boasts a new Blind-Spot View Monitor, which works just like Honda’s LaneWatch but with two key differences. It uses cameras on both sides of the car, instead of only the left side, and it also displays the live feed in the instrument cluster (replacing the gauge on whichever side the driver indicates) rather than the infotainment screen.

The big Hyundai also comes with six airbags and stability control, but unfortunately, it misses out on Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of driver assistance features including autonomous emergency braking.

Mass market brand D-segment sedans aren’t the default “nice cars” for upper middle class folks like they were before, no thanks to a combination of higher prices, the SUV onslaught and entry-level premium compact sedans with attractive financing plans. To survive, everyone has had to push the boat out in terms of design – none are “uncle cars” anymore, but even in the current class of sleek Japanese options, the new Sonata’s design stands out. Share your thoughts.