This 512-HP Hyundai Sonata Sleeper Build Is an Invisible Rocket Ship
Don’t be shocked when this meth-and-nitrous-injected sleeper 2012 Sonata dusts you at the light.
Picture yourself in a production muscle car at a stoplight next to a Hyundai Sonata. Would you beat it off the line? Not if you’re up against Gio Lewis’ “Dragonata,” a 2012 Sonata he picked up brand new off the dealer lot in 2011 and has been modifying ever since. At 512 horsepower, even the brand-new 290-hp Sonata N Line is going to be left behind. There's even video proof of him gapping a Dodge Challenger 392 in the Dragonata, which probably hurt some feelings.
A standard 2012 Sonata comes in two engine varieties: a 198-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and a 274-hp 2.0-liter turbo four. In 2013, Lewis added a front-mounted intercooler and went catless with his creation, boosting airflow and power. Then he added a meth injection kit and nitrous for the full Fast & Furious treatment a year later. It became the super-sleeper it is now when Lewis decided to build the engine and slap on a bigger turbo.
"I overbuilt it with stronger parts than what's needed so I can have a car that's reliable," Lewis told me via Instagram.
He and his wife are retired from the Army and purchased a pair of his-and-hers Sonatas as part of their retirement plan with the intent of maintaining them and passing them down to their teens. Meanwhile, he had big plans for his Hyundai. Even before his latest upgrade, he was racing it at the drag strip and beating C5 Corvettes and Mustang GTs.
"I didn't get a real chance to race the car at the track after the turbo upgrade because the local track closed down in 2017, but prior to and during the upgrade I raced it," Lewis said. "Once my car was with TurboKits, I would take the wife's car to the track."
Friends encouraged him to contact TurboKits, which he knew was looking for a car to use for the development of its turbo upgrade kit. Lewis volunteered as a tribute and drove it from El Paso, Texas, all the way to Connecticut, where TurboKits installed the upgrade. Once it was already there, he went ahead and booked the transmission upgrade with Level 10 Transmissions, which was only 100 miles down the road in Hamburg, New Jersey. Military obligations kept Lewis from picking up his boosted Sonata before December 2016, and TurboKits pampered it in the meantime.
The proud owner lists other mods as a sleeved and built motor with K1 connecting rods and forged pistons and a Zex nitrous kit. Additional fueling is provided by a custom-port methanol injection setup connected to an AEM water-methanol system and a custom fifth injector auxiliary fuel setup controlled by a split-second injector controller.
Lewis laid out the costs in the OnlyBoosted Facebook group: $3,000 for the built transmission, $800 for pistons, $400 for rods, $625 in sleeves, plus $350 for the AEM WMI and $325 for a Zex Safe Shot. That doesn’t even include the labor, which he helped with. He also had the benefit of being the R&D car for TurboKits' development, saving him another $3,000. The bulletproof transmission upgrade is rated for 700 hp, but Lewis opted to dyno it at 512 hp and 439 lb-ft of torque.
No one likes to get beat by a four-door Hyundai, Lewis told me with a wink.
"It's fun to drive and the look on people's faces after they get gapped is hilarious."
Next time you see a Sonata at the stoplight, give it the side eye. It could be Gio's, and it will most definitely leave you behind.
Got a tip? Send us a note: firstname.lastname@example.org