Elantra qual­ity first

Hyundai found class in 2006, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars 2006- 2008 Hyundai Elantra -

HYUNDAI has thrown off the cheap-and-cheer­ful tag it wore when it ar­rived here in the 1980s. It had to, mind you, be­cause no car com­pany could sur­vive longterm if all it did was build cars that were lit­tle more than white­goods on wheels.

For most peo­ple, even those with only a pass­ing in­ter­est in them, cars are an emo­tional pur­chase and Hyundai even­tu­ally had to move be­yond its dol­lar-driven po­si­tion­ing and ap­peal to those who wanted a bet­ter drive than the com­pany was ini­tially of­fer­ing.

En­ter mod­els such as the Sonata and, in 2006, the HD Elantra, the lat­est vari­ant on Hyundai’s small-car theme. It would once have been de­fined by its sticker price but, though the price was sharp, it of­fered more. 1990s, but when the HD model was launched it was re­garded as a real chal­lenger to such small-car leaders as the Toy­ota Corolla, Honda Civic and Nis­san Ti­ida.

Scan­ning the spec­i­fi­ca­tions showed it was no pre­tender in the class; it re­ally did match up against the Ja­panese cars.

Im­por­tantly, Hyundai was tick­ing boxes with all man­ner of motoring bodies, from NCAP for its safety per­for­mance to JD Power for its qual­ity and reli­a­bil­ity.

They were all signs the brand had ma­tured enough to be trusted, that it was no longer just a builder of dis­pos­able cars.

The Elantra was a small, fron­twheel-drive four-door sedan with con­tem­po­rary looks in­side and out, an up­dated and fuel-ef­fi­cient 2-litre en­gine and loads of stan­dard safety fea­tures.

It no longer looked cheap and the qual­ity was clear ev­ery­where, from in­te­rior fit to paint fin­ish.

The HD range was made up of four mod­els — the SX, SLX, Elite and auto-only Elite S.

Power was pro­vided by a re­spon­sive and eco­nom­i­cal 2-litre four- cylin­der en­gine boast­ing per­for­mance peaks of 105kW at 6000 revs and 186Nm at 4600 revs.

Buy­ers could choose be­tween a five-speed man­ual gear­box and a four-speed auto.

It looked the goods, but the drive was some­what un­der­whelm­ing. The steer­ing was rub­bery, the han­dling less than im­pres­sive, the ride av­er­age and the man­ual gearshift im­pre­cise.

All mod­els were quite well equipped, even the en­try-level model came stan­dard with anti-skid brakes, air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors, an alarm and dual front airbags.

Move up the range to the Elite S top­per and you drove away with leather, al­loys and a sun­roof. PAY $13,000-$18,000 for a base SX, add $1500 for an SLX, $3000 for an Elite or $4000 for an Elite S. HYUNDAI has worked hard to rid it­self of the cheer­fully cheap la­bel and the re­sult is bet­ter build qual­ity and much-im­proved reli­a­bil­ity over- all. Few prob­lems are re­ported to cars­Guide and that sug­gests own­ers are sat­is­fied with their cars.

Make the usual checks for shonky crash re­pairs, poor panel fit and colour mis­match­ing. Ask ven­dors for a ser­vice record. ANCAP rated the Elantra at three stars, av­er­age for a car of this safe­ty­con­scious era. All mod­els have dual front airbags and anti-skid brakes; the SX also had side front airbags, and the Elite had head airbags and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. THE Elantra’s en­gine is a sweet­run­ning unit with good per­for­mance for the class, but im­por­tantly it also re­turns good econ­omy. Ex­pect 7-8 litres for 100km on av­er­age around town. A RE­LI­ABLE and af­ford­able small car that’s worth a look.

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