Hyundai’s Corolla competitor lifts the bar with racy red
NEXT weekend sees the highspeed World Rally Championship held in Finland.
This is a rally where Hyundai Motorsport has yet to claim a podium finish, but if the Korean brand’s drivers and cars continue to dice as they have done to date, a place on the podium is not unrealistic. Who would’ve thought this even 10 years ago, when Hyundai had to regain local buyers’ trust when ex-Hyundai SA boss and Zim mining magnate Billy Rautenbach was liquidated?
Back then, the Korean company still aimed to be counted among the world’s top five car makers. It has long achieved this aim and today the company aims to win rallies.
Hyundai Motorsport has done so three times now in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship, with the most recent win in Poland, with Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon securing the team’s first 1-2 result in WRC since the 2014 Rallye Deutschland.
Dani Sordo completed Rally Poland in fourth place overall, making it the most successful combined result for Hyundai Motorsport in the team’s history.
Next weekend’s spectacular jumps in Finland may seem worlds removed from Hyundai’s all-new Elantra, which after all competes with the Toyota Corolla in the sedate executive family saloon niche.
But you should have seen my family jump into the red seats of the cherry red Elantra when it arrived for a test drive, courtesy of Hyundai South Afca. And with my fingers playing the flappy paddles to make the most of the 150 kW turbocharged petrol engine via the seven-speed dual clutch transmission up Maritzburg’s hills, I certainly felt as if I could be at least be a pace car driver for Neuville and co.
This is certainly one sedan that earned its Sport badge on the rear. The previous generation of the Elantra won the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists Car of the Year (Coty) award in 2012. In my mind, this 2017 model has what it takes to compete in terms of innovation and value for money against any vehicle out there for another Coty.
UNDER THE HOODS
Four models are on sale: The Elantra 1.6 Executive manual and Elantra 1.6 Executive automatic (both driven by a 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine making 94 kW/ 154 Nm); the Elantra 2.0 Elite, with a naturally aspirated 2-litre petrol engine making 115 kW/195 Nm; and the rangetopping Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport, with a powerful 1,6-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 150 kW/265 Nm from 1 500 rpm.
The Elantra 1.6 Executive comes with a choice between a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the Elantra 2.0 Elite is only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox. Service intervals are 15 000 km for all engines.
Even the base model Elantra has an eight-inch hi-resolution infotainment system, rear park assist, six airbags, Isofix latching points for child seats, cruise control and attractive alloy standard features. Electric side mirrors and windows are also standard convenience features across the range.
The Elantra also easily passed my litmus test for a car’s digital compatibility — to pair with a smartphone within four button presses.
The standard eight-inch touch screen includes satellite navigation, provides a USB Mirror Link for Android cell phones, HDMI connectivity for iPhones to view the iPhone screen, hands-free Bluetooth telephone link with remote controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth music streaming and AUX and USB input ports.
All four derivatives’ seats are covered in leather, and are made of SoyFoa, an environmentally friendly seating foam that substitutes petroleum based polyol with soybean oil.
Sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa Stanley Anderson said in a statement the new Elantra will again fill an important slot in Hyundai’s model line-up for car buyers who are looking for a family sedan.
“And when its cost is compared to the specification-adjusted prices of its competitors, the new Elantra is bound to be the choice of many discerning buyers.” Prices start at R299 900 and top out at a very competitive R399 900 for the Elantra Sport.
A five-year or 150 000 km warranty and additional twoyear powertrain warranty is part of the standard package, which also includes five-year or 150 000 km roadside assistance and a five-year or 90 000 km service plan.
The Hyundai Elantra has come a long way, and while it will not make the jumps that World Rally Championship drivers routinely take, my family certainly jumped into the plush cabin with speed when I invited them for a test drive the new DCT Sport edition, which sells for R399 900.