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Review: Hyundai Elantra
Driven November 2012
Back in 2000, the BMW design team went into a huddle to come up with something to instantly differentiate BMWs from the rest of the world. To do that, they gave the E39 5 series, for the first time, a clear set of twin headlamps. The concept quickly became fashionable, and popularly came to be known as ‘angel eyes’. Today, almost all BMW models get those distinctive headlamps.
Hyundai saw something similar last year, with its Fluidic design theme. The Verna was the first Hyundai to get the Fluidic treatment, and the results got people talking and gave the sales numbers a substantial boost. Since then, it has been so well accepted, the Fluidic theme has been carried over to a whole range of cars in Hyundai’s stable.
Now, Hyundai has filled up its one remaining gap in India – the sedan segment – with the all-new Fluidic Elantra. From a distance, you might need to look hard to distinguish it from the Verna, but look closely and you realise how long and wide this thing actually is – it’s nearly 200mm longer and 75mm wider than the Verna. This one also gets the flared arches, hexagonal nose and swept back headlamps.
Inside, it gets the beige-and-black dual-tone dash now seen in almost all Hyundais from the i10 to the Sonata. We reckon it’ll look way classier and more stylish without the harsh-on-the-eye beige, but sadly you get no choices here.
The equipment on the new Elantra is enough to shame many C-Class-range cars. The top-end variant has a feature list that’ll run into multiple pages. The front seats get in-built ventilation and the driver’s seat is electrically adjustable with height adjust. The blokes at Hyundai aren’t taking our tropical temperatures lightly, which explains the dual AC with twin vents at the rear.
The Elantra gets a multimedia system with CD, Aux and USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity. The glitch is that you can’t change tracks from the steering-mounted controls. And given that the segment largely has chauffeur-driven owners, you also get a rear armrest with integrated audio controls just as in the Sonata.
Under the hood, you can choose between a new 1.8-litre petrol engine and a 1.6-litre diesel borrowed from the Verna. And you can get a 6-speed automatic transmission with both engine options.
The diesel block puts out 126bhp and 260Nm of torque, which is quite enough for most of your needs. But there’s noticeable lag before the turbo kicks in at about 2000rpm. After that, life’s easy. Also, there is some amount of diesel clatter leaking into the cabin, especially at high revs.
Like the Verna, the Elantra feels at home only in city traffic and at low speeds. Past 120kph, ride gets bouncy with the smallest of surface undulation, and the light steering fails to give you any sort of feedback. This one, like most other Koreans, is not a big fan of twisty roads. Go a tad too quick into a corner and it’ll surprise you with understeer. At high speeds, cross winds become a nagging worry and it needs a lot of steering input to keep it going straight.
For its size, the Elantra is quite frugal. The stick-shift tranny returns a healthy 11.8kpl in the city and 15.5kpl on the highway. And the sixth gear helps keep the revs inside the eco band while cruising at highway speeds.
The Elantra diesel with a manual ’box starts at Rs13.54 lakh and goes up to Rs15.57 lakh (both ex-showroom, Mumbai), which gives it a slight advantage over its biggest rivals, the Chevy Cruze and the VW Jetta. Sure, for its price, it packs in a lot more features than its competitors but it still doesn’t feel enough to get them worried. Those are cars with great on-road dynamics, and that’s where the Elantra has much catching up to do.