HYUNDAI ELANTRA 1,6 T-GDI ELITE
The Elantra’s new flagship model offers a step up in performance and premium quality
TWO years after its global reveal, the new Hyundai Elantra has nally arrived in South Africa. Given the fact that its predecessor secured our Top 12 Best Buys Compact Sedan title in 2012 and ‘13, we were eager to see what the new model had to offer. Our test car is the agship T-GDI Elite tted with the turbocharged 1,6-litre, 150 kw engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission found in the equivalent Veloster; the result is a surprising amount of grunt.
The new Elantra’s exterior is best described as a safe evolution of the previous generation and, like other new Hyundais we’ve seen, such as the Tucson and Creta, it’s a handsome car rather than a striking one. The Elite’s looks only hint at its performance advantages over the rest of its siblings, with LED daytimerunning lights and a slightly restyled front grille. The rear incorporates a mild diffuser alongside a similarly mild twinexhaust tailpiece.
Inside it’s a similar story. The interior gains a racy set of red leather seats, a pleasantly nished at-bottomed multifunction steering wheel with red contrast stitching and some sturdy steel pedals.
As the Korean manufacturers have done with every succeeding generation, the new Elantra’s cabin is a step up in both build and material quality. All of the components feel well nished and most are soft to the touch.
Interior packaging is not classleading, but with a measured boot space of 384 litres and rear legroom of 654 mm, it’s in line with competitors. Standard features in this trim include an armrest, six airbags, a 60:40-split rear folding seat and an infotainment system with Mirrorlink functionalities and satellite navigation. These are,
it must be said, features you would expect as standard at this price point, although you don’t get a glass sunroof, electrically driver’s seat or blind-spot monitoring; they’re features that come standard on the Mazda3 Sedan 2,0 Astina. This is always a somewhat subjective call, but the NVH levels seemed impressively low and we measured an idle interior noise level reading of 40 DBA – one of the lowest we have seen.
The focal point of the T-GDI Elite, however, is the powertrain and, as mentioned, it’s a layout that Hyundai has used before. In this Elantra, however, it feels punchier … something that was confirmed in our test results. Whereas Hyundai claims a 0-100 km/h time of 7,7 seconds and a top speed of 210 km/h (about right for 1 373 kg vehicle with an engine this size), our performance testing posted a 0-100 km/h time of 6,84 seconds. That’s not only significantly lower than the official stat, but it’s almost half a second quicker than the Veloster 1,6 T-GDI.
The Elantra’s in-gear acceleration tests also indicated the car was able to carry that momentum through the gears and it displayed a 100-120 km/h time of 2,56 seconds. The Elantra was also impressive in scrubbing off all this speed, boasting an average 100-0 km/h stopping time of 2,79 seconds, a figure that can be attributed to the 305 mm front ventilated brake disks and the grippy Hankook Ventus Prime rubber.
While these figures are no doubt impressive for a turbocharged 1,6-litre engine, the general demeanour of the Elantra doesn’t quite match the powertrain’s performance. While the rear multilink suspension does make the vehicle feel planted in corners, it’s
Certainly a pleasant, if very niche, performance surprise Ian Mclaren A surprisingly dynamic package; a long way off the original Elantra Sudhir Matai A sprightly performer. Worthy of the Sport badge? Just about Ryan Bubear
certainly not a car that enjoys being pushed to the limit. Hyundai has dialled a little more comfort into the ride quality and when pushing on – as encouraged by the engine – there are hints of understeer and slight signs of instability under hard braking.
In an everyday setting, however, the Elantra possesses a comfortable and re ned demeanour. The suspension provides a softly sprung ride and works well with the responsive, electrically assisted steering.
At R399 900, the new Elantra’s range topper is quite a jump up in price, but it is a more premium product and does offer generous standard speci cation and a ve-year/ 90 000 km service plan. With this new-generation car, the Elantra’s brand promise remains a well-rounded product that, given its spec, is competitively priced and remains a worthy sedan alternative to the ubiquitous SUVS and crossovers. Acceleration stats aside, it may not quite live up to that Sport badge branded on its boot lid, but this agship model does offer a premium driving experience.
That said, if you’re willing to trade the punch offered by the 1,6-litre turbopetrol and its dual-clutch transmission for a more relaxed, naturally aspirated 2,0-litre with a sixspeed torque converter, the similarly specced 115 kw 2,0 Elite is worth looking at. For one thing, it’s R50 000 cheaper and, although on paper it’s heavier on fuel, we’d bet in real-world conditions their consumption gures would be more closely matched.
In an everyday setting, the Elantra possesses a comfy, refined demeanour
clockwise from below Perceived quality is excellent and spec generous; leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel is a cheeky addition; leather seats feel upmarket; rear legroom, although not classleading, is sufficient for two adults.
clockwise from top left The boot has anchors for a cargo net, but lacks more helpful bag hooks; 1,6 T-GDI’S performance gures came as a pleasant surprise; new Elantra has an elegant, dynamic design, not often a given in this straight-laced segment.