'Fluidic' Elantra has plenty to admire

18:00, Apr 10 2014
Hyundai Elantra
FACELIFTED: Hyundai's Elantra has been facelifted just in time to take advantage of a predicted surge in popularity of sedans.

What's that they say? That the only constant is change? That what has been will be again?

Powertrain: Front-driven 1.8-litre 16-valve DOHC four cylinder petrol engine with continuously variabl;e valve timing, with six-speed automatic transmission.
Output: 110kW at 6500rpm, 178Nm at 4700rpm, 7.1 L/100km, 170 g/lm CO 2.
Chassis: MacPherson strut front suspension, independent multi-link rear setup with coil springs. Electric power steering with FlexSteer.
Safety: Full suite of electronic handling aids including Vehicle Stability Management.
Connectivity: The audio system is Bluetooth, MP3, iPod, USB and Auxiliary compatible.
Dimensions: L 4550mm, W 1775mm, H 1405mm, W/base 2700mm.
Price: $39,900.
Hot: Sharp bodyshell lines, well specified interior, sound drive.
Not: Quite a bit of tyre roar at times.
Verdict: Elantra sedan will never sell at the same volumes as the Hyundai i30 hatch, but the facelifted model is sure to be more popular this year.
At some of the most recent new vehicle launches I've recalled those sayings, and it is all because it seems that a motor vehicle style that was once very popular here, is set to become popular once again.

I'm talking small sedans - those four-door cars with a boot. In the past few weeks several of them have been launched in New Zealand, the most recent being the Subaru WRX, which isn't even going to have a hatch version this time around. Prior to that there have been the Toyota Corolla sedan, plus a sedan version of the new Mazda3 range.

Now while it would be drawing a very long bow to suggest that arrival of these sedans will spark a sales surge large enough to take over five-door hatchbacks in the popularity stakes, it's certain that their very presence on the new car market will result in more being sold.

And as far as I'm concerned, that's OK. Small sedans really suit the New Zealand motoring environment, as owners of booted product such as Holden Cruze, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Pulsar, Honda Civic and Kia Cerato will attest.

Many of them look pretty darned good too, with one of the outstanding examples being the Hyundai Elantra.


Offering bodyshell lines that come close to mirroring those of the larger i45, which itself was penned using Hyundai's so-called "fluidic sculpture" design language, it's a handsome sedan. It's also nice on the inside, using relatively heavy use of pseudo- alloy trim right through the frontal area, and a major design feature is a coke bottle-shaped centre console.

And now it has been facelifted.

On the outside the latest Elantra has new front and rear bumpers which have been extended by 5mm and 15mm respectively for a more balanced look. It also has new headlights, fog lights and grille, while new 16-inch and 17-inch alloy wheels have been made available for the entry and Elite models.

Inside, there's a new audio system, revised air conditioning with the centre vents relocated higher in the console for better air distribution, and the Hyundai gets four new colours - Dazzling Blue, Tropical Sea Blue, Satin Amber and Brilliant Red.

The facelift is not only cosmetic either. Elantra's suspension has been upgraded via installation of mono tube shock absorbers for more controlled ride and handling, and the sedan is now equipped with Hyundai/Kia's FlexSteer which offers Normal, Comfort and Sport settings to provide different weighted power steering for different driving conditions.

Three levels of the facelifted Elantra are available in New Zealand, and all are powered by the same 1.8-litre petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The entry model retails for $35,990, a more luxurious Elite costs $39,990, and there's an Elite Limited with satellite navigation and a powered sunroof that retails for $43,990.

We've just been driving an Elite, which offers such niceties as push-button start, leather upholstery and heated front seats, 10-way electric adjustability of the driver's seat, rain-sensing wipers, automatic light control, automatic air conditioning, a touch-screen audio system, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, and a "supervision" instrument cluster that is illuminated a clear blue at night for better visibility.

The sedan also has 17-inch alloy wheels shod with low profile 45-series tyres which combine with the more robust suspension system to offer a secure ride. The FlexSteer system is also now there to help, and while I am sometimes critical of the Comfort setting which can make the electric power steer far too light, in this case it works well.

The Hyundai Nu series petrol engine under the bonnet of the Elantra is a 1.8-litre unit that produces up to 110 kilowatts of power and 176 Newton metres of torque, which is sufficient to give the small sedan sound performance. The engine is matched to a lightweight six- speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Suspension comprises a latest version of the traditional setup comprising MacPherson struts at the front and a multi link rear setup at the rear. It all offers a secure ride, and there's a high level of safety including ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Management.

So overall, this Series II Elantra continues to impress as a very good player in a market segment that may well be growing in popularity.

Perhaps the most important feature about the car is that it does everything that a good sedan should. It's compact but it offers good interior room, and the boot offers 485 litres of cargo space, which can be increased by folding down the 60:40 split/fold rear seats. The Elite comes with electrically heated side mirrors and body coloured door handles. The steering wheel and gear selector are leather covered. There is a 60:40 split folding rear seat, power windows, trip computer, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls.

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