Fun in a four-door

Korean sedan gets the up­date drop on its bet­ter-sell­ing hatch sib­ling

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE - RICHARD BLACK­BURN CARSGUIDE EDITOR richard.black­burn@news.com.au

MEET the most pop­u­lar Hyundai on the planet.

Sedans may be on the nose in Aus­tralia but the hum­ble Elantra is a best­seller for the brand world­wide.

In Aus­tralia, the Elantra plays se­cond fid­dle to the i30 hatch, which out­sells it roughly four to one.

But Hyundai says there is still healthy de­mand for a small sedan, par­tic­u­larly among older par­ents whose chil­dren have moved out of home.

Buy­ers are ei­ther up­grad­ing from a hatch or mov­ing out of an SUV or large sedan they owned by ne­ces­sity when their kids were younger.

Thanks to its global im­por­tance, the Elantra has been up­dated be­fore the i30, with a new look, tech­nol­ogy up­grades and a more pow­er­ful en­gine.

The 1.8-litre has been re­placed by a big­ger 2.0-litre en­gine that has more torque avail­able lower in the rev range for bet­ter pick-up off the mark. But there’s a catch. At a time when there is plenty of fo­cus on fuel econ­omy and emis­sions, the new model is thirstier than the one it re­places.

Hyundai says the dif­fer­ence on the au­to­matic ver­sion amounts to just 15 litres more petrol over a year for the av­er­age mo­torist. The man­ual is thirstier.

The price has also gone up $500 to $21,490 on the en­try level model al­though Hyundai says about $2000 worth of equip­ment has been added.

The cost of adding an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is above av­er­age — $2300.

The bet­ter equipped, auto-only Elite costs $26,490, or $300 less than the pre­vi­ous model, with what the maker says is be­tween $2000 and $2500 worth of ex­tra gear.

A more pow­er­ful SR sports model with a 150kW turbo en­gine and sports sus­pen­sion tun­ing will join the range midyear.

Stan­dard gear on the base model in­cludes re­vers­ing cam­era, 16-inch al­loy wheels with full-size spare, LED day­time run­ning lights, auto headlights and seven-inch cen­tre screen that hooks up to Ap­ple Car Play — if you have an iPhone. If your phone is An­droid-based, you may want to put off buy­ing un­til the third quar­ter of this year when the tech­nol­ogy be­comes avail­able.

The Elite gets leather­ap­pointed seats, cli­mate­con­trol air­con­di­tion­ing, smart key and push but­ton start, big­ger wheels and a larger dig­i­tal dis­play be­tween the speedo and tacho.

The head­line act of the new car is the stiffer body and re­vised front and rear sus­pen­sion. Hyundai says lo­cal de­vel­op­ment work has made the car more re­fined, com­fort­able and re­spon­sive on typ­i­cal Aus­tralian roads.

Six airbags are stan­dard but there is none of the ac­tive safety tech­nol­ogy that is be­com­ing more com­mon on ri­vals. There is no au­to­mated brak­ing at low speeds, no blind spot mon­i­tor or lane de­par­ture warn­ing.

Hyundai says added safety gear could be avail­able on the SR model and flow through to other grades later in the year but is mak­ing no prom­ises.

It also says it is ex­pect­ing no sur­prises when the car is crash tested. The com­pany was em­bar­rassed last year by a fourstar rat­ing for its Tuc­son SUV (it has since been retested and awarded five stars).

The new Elantra is slightly longer, wider and taller than its

pre­de­ces­sor, with more shoul­der, head and leg room. The boot is slightly smaller than be­fore be­cause of the new rear sus­pen­sion set up.

ON THE ROAD

The sedan may not be a sales ri­val for the i30 hatch, let alone a sports car, but thanks to this up­date it is now a no­tice­ably bet­ter car to drive.

The big­ger en­gine feels stronger off the mark and more re­fined when asked to work hard. The six-speed trans­mis­sion also works well, shift­ing smoothly and re­spond­ing quickly when asked to kick down.

As with the re­cent Tuc­son, the high­light of the new Elantra is the way it soaks up bumps and cor­ru­ga­tions at speed. The ride is com­fort­able but also com­posed — it doesn’t jar over sharp edges and set­tles quickly af­ter big­ger bumps.

The steer­ing is ac­cu­rate and well weighted and the car feels nim­ble through the cor­ners, al­though the tyres on the Ac­tive model lack grip. The big­ger wheel and tyre com­bi­na­tion on the Elite feels bet­ter.

Trimmed with lots of dark grey, the cabin is plain but com­fort­able and func­tional. The CarPlay setup’s nav­i­ga­tion, phone and en­ter­tain­ment con­trols are easy to use (if you have an iPhone). Head­room is good in the front and ac­cept­able in the back.

VER­DICT

A small sedan might not be ev­ery­one’s cup of tea but the new Elantra is well worth a look. It’s com­fort­able, spa­cious and a bit of fun on a coun­try back road.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.