HOW TO TWEAK A win­ner

CityPress - - Opportunity index - ANÉ THERON trend­ing@city­

Since the Elantra won the SA Guild of Mo­tor­ing Jour­nal­ists’ car of the year award in 2012, things have been go­ing swim­mingly for Hyundai SA. How­ever, it has been three years since the out­go­ing model was launched, and it’s time for an up­date.

In­stead of giv­ing the Elantra a com­plete over­haul with re­con­struc­tive surgery, Hyundai has de­cided to en­hance some of the ve­hi­cle’s char­ac­ter­is­tics.

If you put the out­go­ing and the new Elantra 1.6 Pre­mium side by side, you’d hardly no­tice any dif­fer­ence. So why bother?

Well, if the style changes aren’t too dra­matic, the re­sale value of pre­vi­ous mod­els won’t plum­met too con­sid­er­ably. Also, to stay part of this mar­ket seg­ment’s cut-throat com­pe­ti­tion, mod­ern fea­tures such as in­te­grated Blue­tooth had to be added.

Hyundai also lis­tened to cus­tomer com­plaints about the air con­di­tion­ing be­ing di­rected at their hands, so air vents have been placed a lit­tle higher and now have a shut-off func­tion.

The cli­mate con­trol in­ter­face has been re­designed and the au­dio sys­tem is new. The cen­tre arm­rest is higher and the in­te­rior is as roomy as ever. The boot is huge, with 485 litres of space.

Re­gard­ing some of the ex­te­rior changes, the head­lamps have been re­vised and classy al­loy wheels re­place steel rims.

A new chrome grille and belt­line add just the right amount of bling.

The fog lights look a lit­tle more tech­ni­cal and new elec­tric fold­ing side mir­rors will make squeez­ing into tight spots a breeze.

On our drive from Melk­bosstrand through the Swart­land, I im­me­di­ately no­ticed a change in noise and vi­bra­tion lev­els. Not that the out­go­ing Elantra was noisy, but there is a def­i­nite im­prove­ment.

The six-speed man­ual gear­box is slicker than a sec­ond-hand car sales­man, and is one of the Elantra’s strong­est points. The steer­ing feels a lot more di­rect and has a weighted, pre­mium feel to it. It is also speed sen­si­tive, which means that it will adapt to what­ever driv­ing sit­u­a­tion you’re in. For ex­am­ple, on the open road it will feel a lit­tle stiffer to give good feed­back, but feel more flex­i­ble when you’re par­al­lel park­ing in the city. The ride qual­ity and han­dling is su­perb. Safety fea­tures stay the same. Knee pro­tec­tion and Isofix child seat an­chors are also stan­dard. My only is­sue with the Elantra is that Hyundai should have added a cou­ple more air bags.

My own 2012 Chevro­let Cruze 1.6 LS is fit­ted with front, side and cur­tain air bags, which was a big sell­ing point for me. But other than that, the re­fined Elantra is the com­plete pack­age.

In­cluded in the price is a five-year/150 000km war­ranty, with five-year/150 000km road­side as­sis­tance-and-a-five-year/90 000 km ser­vice plan.

Elantra 1.6 Pre­mium (man­ual) R247 900 Elantra 1.6 Pre­mium (au­to­matic) R262 900

A BIT MORE BLING The Hyundai Elantra has un­der­gone a slight face-lift

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