Hyundai launches first gasoline direct-injection engine

Hyundai has officially unveiled its first ever gasoline direct-injection engine. Hyundai launched the all-new engine earlier on Tuesday at the Ninth Annual Hyundai-Kia International Powertrain Conference.

Dubbed the 2.4 Theta II GDI, the new four-cylinder will make its production debut in the 2010 Hyundai Sonata, which will likely hit the United States with a 2011 designation. When the Sonata does hit the market, it will be the first mid-size sedan to offer a direct-injection engine.

According to Hyundai, the new Theta II powerplant generates 200 horsepower and about 185 lb-ft of torque. Despite that level of power, Hyundai says the engine is about 10 percent more fuel efficient that a comparable non-DI four-cylinder, so expect fuel economy ratings easily in the 30s. We wouldn't be surprised to see highway ratings at 35mpg or better.

No performance figures were given but 200 horsepower should make the next Sonata one of the fastest four-cylinder sedans in its segment. In comparison, the top-level four-cylinder in the Honda Accord makes 190 horsepower and the most powerful four-cylinder Toyota Camry offers 179 horsepower.

Hyundai says its direct-injection technology will eventually spread throughout its lineup.