The all-new Azera and updated Sonata should help Hyundai to take a bigger share of the market for medium and large saloons in the Middle East, according to Mike Song, Hyundai’s head of operations for Africa and the Middle East.

The two saloons will both offer dramatic new looks giving the brand a 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 V6 engine option unique to the region. It will be followed by a reworked 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 Song. “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 saloons 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.

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.

“This is one of the best updates to an existing design that I have ever seen,” added 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.