PowerBass Classy Sonata Shows CES Crowd What KDM Is All About

Sections: Aftermarket, Car Audio, CES, CES 2014, Chassis, Installations, Powertrain

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Owner Anna Valles stands by her customized Hyundai known as “Classy Sonata.” Inside is a bevy of PowerBass sound reinforcement and a customized air suspension setup, plus a few performance and appearance mods that make the car an excellent example of where the aftermarket is going for Korean brands. (photo courtesy Andy Valles)

The PowerBass booth at CES featured a highly-modded Hyundai called Classy Sonata that showed the possibilities for creating a truly awesome custom build based on a Korean sedan.

Ever since the “Fast and the Furious” franchise launched, the initials JDM have been spoken with reverence among customizers of Japanese cars, with modifications that bring a car closer to its homeland roots seen as necessary and proper. I know kids who like to use those initials to describe their highly — and often grotesquely — modified Honda Civics and Toyota Celicas, but there were and are plenty of folks for whom JDM-style modification has been taken seriously — and done to perfection.

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Classy Sonata’s lighting and engine bay got quite a few upgrades during the build process. (Photo courtesy Andy Valles)

Allow me, then, to corrupt those initials in describing a Hyundai similarly done to perfection. The Korean automaker should take a long look at the Alabama-built, California-customized Classy Sonata shown at the Powerbass booth this year at CES in Las Vegas. It is so KDM, yo. This car is executed in ways the spoiled rich kids at my high school could only dream about back in the day while slapping stick-on, non-functional hood scoops on the intentionally primer-black hoods of their “soooo JDM” ’97 Civics.

Since PowerBass was hosting the car in its CES booth, it should come as no surprise that Classy Sonata comes packed with killer sound reinforcement:

  • The low end comes courtesy of two 12-inch PowerBass 2XL-1204D Subwoofers with dual four-ohm voice coils driven by an XMA-1200D 1,200-watt Class D monoblock amplifier.
  • Mids are handled by four 6.5-inch units in the doors of the Classy Sonata along with four additional smaller mids powered by the PowerBass XMA-4160 IR, a four-channel Class D mini amplifier designed for full-range sound reproduction and ultra-low current draw, pushing 640 watts with a more than 85% efficiency rating.
  • Finally, four tweeters are hooked to the PowerBass XMA-2160 IR, a two-channel Class D mini amplifier good for about 320 watts at the same efficiency rating.
  • Helping provide the instantaneous power demanded by the trio of amplifiers is PowerBass’ ASC-2.4 digital stiffening capacitor.
  • Tying it all together is the AWK-4 four-gauge wiring kit that features 17 feet of double-shielded RCA cable, 17 feet of four-gauge CCA power cable, three feet of four-gauge CCA ground cable, 20 feet of clear 16-gauge speaker wire, 17 feet of blue turn-on wire, and one AGU fuse holder with a 60-amp fuse for blowout protection.

For now, Classy Sonata owner Anna Valles and husband Andy have opted to go for the clean, OEM look by retaining the stock Hyundai Sonata head unit, but Andy said there probably will be an aftermarket media screen in the Classy Sonata’s future — along with some additional 6.5-inch reinforcements in the trunk area, which currently houses the subs in an AnG Custom Motoring custom trunk enclosure. Based in Los Angeles, CA, AnG was the sound system install shop for Classy Sonata, Andy said.

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Dual air tanks for Classy Sonata’s air suspension are custom-painted to match the pearl white exterior of the car, while a Bluetooth module (the silver box at left) allows the Air Logic leveler system (the red box) to be controlled by a tablet app. (Photo courtesy Andy Valles)

The trunk of the Classy Sonata is where some of the most interesting non-sound-related customizing has been done, as well. It is there that a pair of air tanks for the car’s custom air suspension have been painted pearl white to match the, well, classy exterior of the Classy Sonata. Those tanks — one five gallons, the other four — supply a Universal Air Suspension setup that features two Vlair 4080c compressors and is controlled by a prototype Air Logic E-Level Management app capable of manipulating the system from Anna’s tablet. While Classy Sonata was a guinea pig of sorts for the app-driven control system, Andy said it has worked out well for the car both at shows and in the real world.

In the lighting department, Classy Sonata does not disappoint. Out front are Concept3 5K HID headlight and Fog Light kits as well as a Concept3 DRL-over-fog kit alongside an ExLed USA custom headlight pair. Out back, there’s a Camily Hi-Lux LED rear bumper reflector replacement and ExLed USA custom taillights. Inside gets the LED treatment, as well.

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Custom LED lighting accents abound on the Classy Sonata displayed in the PowerBass booth at CES this year. (Photo courtesy Andy Valles)

Other exterior customizations include a custom-painted NEFD front lip, Megan Racing carbon fiber roof spoiler, and a custom-painted DRL housing.

Regular readers will know I’m a sucker for powertrain goodies, and the Valles’ Classy Sonata has a few interesting things for me there, as well. On top of the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine from Hyundai, the following mods have been made:

  • HKS Super SQV blowoff valve
  • Concept3 Performance custom front-mount intercooler setup
  • Megan Racing custom cat-back exhaust
  • K&N drop-in high-flow air filter
  • Odyssey battery (all the better for supplying juice to those amps!)
  • Custom turquoise engine bolt dress-up kit
  • Custom-painted valve cover in turquoise and the same pearl white as the car’s exterior

That engine sends its power, ultimately, to four Avant Garde M359 20-inch tall x 9.5-inch wide wheels wearing Toyo rubber and shrouding R1 Concepts custom-engraved brake rotors.

Andy explained how Anna came to choose the Hyundai Sonata as a starting point for what has become an impressive display of customization:

“Anna had owned a 2008 GMC Acadia for five years with having three children with two in booster seats. The kids are older now, so she wanted to downsize.

“We began to look at cars, a few being the Lincoln MKZ, Ford Fusion, and Sonata. Being that we know one of the managers at Romero Hyundai in Ontario, CA, she went with the Sonata. The power in the stock turbo Limited Edition package didn’t hurt either.

“Her first words were, ‘Andy, you are not touching my car with mods.’ This only lasted two weeks before the HID and LED swap was made.”

The Classy Sonata may be a show car, but it’s also Anna’s daily driver, Andy said. The decision to use PowerBass components in the car came after Andy himself had considered them for a custom Nissan cube — ironically named “JDM cube” — he built a couple of years ago, but he didn’t ultimately take that direction then. After seeing friends’ PowerBass setups, he said it was a no-brainer for the Sonata.

“Three of our friends have gone with PowerBass in the past — Rodney Esteban, Mark (Taz) Graves, and Matt Tom — and we were just amazed at the quality look and sound. It was first thought to be put into the cube but didn’t happen.

“Anna was contacted after the 2013 SEMA by Rodney to see if she was interested in representing PowerBass at CES. There was not even a question — the answer was yes. Anna is very happy to have been chosen for this opportunity.”

Looking at the Classy Sonata and the way it classed up CES at PowerBass’ booth, we have to believe PowerBass is very happy to have its products in such a beautiful example of what can be done with a Hyundai — admittedly not the first brand many might think of when envisioning a heavily customized, booming sound machine.

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