HYUNDAI’S GOLD STANDARD
ELANTRA ADDS MORE REFINEMENT, STYLE TO POPULAR CAR
HYUNDAI struck gold with its Elantra and there's more to come, judging by its latest model.
The just-launched sixth-generation has more refinement and style, and seems certain to build on the model's stunning global success.
More than 10 million Elantras have been sold worldwide since the classy compact was launched in 1990.
The new one retains the 'fluidic sculpture' styling but with better aerodynamics; a stronger, more rigid body; bigger engine; improved suspension; and a lot of worthwhile standard equipment.
There are two models, the Ac- tive and Elite, priced from $21,490 for the manual and $2300 more for the auto. The Elite adds another $3000.
Behind the signature hexagonal grille is a new 112kW/192Nm four-cylinder 2.0litre engine that needs only 7.2litres/100km, and transmission is via a six-speed manual or six-speed auto in the Active and auto-only in the Elite.
The motor has a bit more power than the earlier 1.8, but a stronger torque curve.
Budget watchers will be happy that the Elantra needs standard 91-octane fuel.
The new car is 20mm longer, 25mm wider and 5mm taller than its predecessor, and has more head and shoulder room.
Standard features in both models include 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, (no Android yet) rear-view camera and park-assist, cruise control, LED Daytime Running Lights, automatic dusk-sensing headlights, and smart alloy wheels.
There's also a six-speaker audio system with steering wheelmounted controls and we liked the centre stack, slightly angled towards the driver, and the clear instruments and sensibly-placed switchgear.
For the extra $3000, the Elite gets leather trim – choice of black or beige – climate control, powered mirrors, proximity key, a chromed grille, premium gearknob, a set of sexy LED taillights and, would you believe, a boot that opens all by itself if you linger close-by for more than three seconds.
It assumes you have both arms clutching shopping items, so it saves you fiddling with the key fob.
The boot is a sizeable 458 litres, and can be expanded by lowering the rear seat backrests.
Both cars also get an enormous suite of safety gear. The Elantra drives beautifully. Our drive route included a couple of Targa Tasmania special stages, plus a bit of gravel, and we never had any anxious moments.
The Australian-spec Elantras have unique, stiffer suspension, which, coupled with the new structural rigidity, result in surefooted handling and a quieter ride.
Performance is adequate for most needs; it's designed as a family car and for mature motorists.
But a hottie is on its way for keener drivers: the SR, a 150kW/ 265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged model arrives in a few months.
One of the best packages in its class.
Verdict: The new Elantra is one of Hyundai's finest.