El­e­gant Elantra

Hyundai’s Corolla com­peti­tor lifts the bar with racy red

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

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.

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