Hyundai NZ launched its all new Elantra compact sedan at a press event, held at the Fieldays show, yesterday. The Elantra comes with big expectations for Hyundai but the high hopes seem justified – because the 2011 Elantra is a solid all-round package.
Hyundai hopes to install the Elantra as New Zealand’s number one selling compact sedan, but does it really have what it takes to match Holden’s much-improved Cruze or established competitors like the Mazda3? Car and SUV got some seat time in the new Elantra to find out more.
The Elantra goes on sale in three trim levels A6, A6 Elite and A6 Elite Limited. The entry model Elantra A6 comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth interior trim, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, six speaker stereo with iPod inputs, steering wheel audio controls, manual air conditioning and cruise control. It carries a price tag of $35,990.
The A6 Elite model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, full leather interior with electric drivers’ seat, keyless entry and start, a subwoofer for the stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing sensors, heated seats front and rear, and rain-sensing wipers. The well-equipped Elantra Elite is priced at $39,990.
The top-spec Elite Limited adds in a tilt and slide sunroof and is priced at $41,990.
Under the bonnet a single engine option is offered; a 1.8 litre petrol motor using variable valve timing and multi-point fuel injection to produce 110kW of power and 178Nm of peak torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed electronic auto transmission, which helps the Elantra deliver excellent fuel economy of 7.1-litres per 100km combined. During our drive we easily achieved this figure and with a conservative driving style it would be possible to go even lower. Hyundai have really recognised the value of fuel conservation in the current automotive climate and use clever tech like an offset crankshaft, a lightweight transmission and electronic throttle body to achieve it.
On road, the Elantra is modestly powered. With a 0-100km/h sprint time of just over 10 seconds it’s no fireball but it delivers its grunt in a smooth and linear fashion. It also pulls well through the mid-range and the auto box isn’t shy to chop down a ratio or two to best use all available power. The traditional auto transmission offers up quick shifts and has a smoothness that matches up well with the engine’s character. There is also a manual shift mode that responds rapidly and doesn’t exhibit the delays that is a weakness in some of these systems.
Our test route included sections of motorway and open road driving with the Elantra feeling elegantly settled at the speed limit and had a cruising nature and ride quality akin to a larger sedan. When hustled harder the engine maintained its refinement with minimal buzzing even high in the rev range.
Dynamically, the Elantra doesn’t disappoint. With MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear it is nicely sorted for tackling twisting roads. It stays reassuringly flat mid-corner and tracks around nicely with plenty of grip through the front driving wheels. It feels very agile and with a low kerb weight of 1,220kg it’s understandable why. While it falls just short of the Mazda3’s capabilities, the Elantra’s handling is similar and has easily enough engagement to offer those driver’s who enjoy the occasional back road blast.
Ride quality isn’t overly firm and the Elantra didn’t prove sensitive to rougher tarmac surfaces. Most dips and bumps didn’t relay into the cabin although there was some tyre roar coming off the coarse chip roads during our drive. Otherwise the cabin was a tranquil place to be.
The interior has a large dose of style but it doesn’t encroach on functionality. The dashboard is curvaceous and has thoughtful ergonomics with all controls at hand. Instrumentation is illuminated in cool blue and a sporty two-dial design surrounds a small digital display screen. The materials feel finished to a good quality generally but the contrasting silver trim is slightly harder and lighter. That said, it’s hard to fault the build quality with a sense of robustness and everything being well screwed together. This continues to be a strength of Hyundai’s current range.
When it comes to cabin space the Elantra really feels like a larger car. The driving position is particularly expansive with loads of room in the footwell, plenty of shoulder space and a well placed centre armrest for relaxing while you cruise. The backseat has plenty of legroom and while headroom is is slightly compromised by the Elantra’s coupe like roof, this will only affect very tall passengers. Boot capacity is a handy 420-litres and the rear seat will split 60:40 to transport larger items.
Exterior design is a true selling point of the new Elantra, Hyundai hasn’t held back here and its about as dynamic as you’ll find in this market segment. Like the larger i45, the Elantra is penned with a ‘Windflow’ design language and the result is eye catching and ultra modern. A broad lower air intake, wrap around head and tail lights, pumped out wheel arches and a V-shaped rear pillar are all styling highlights. The various design cues work together to trick the eye and make the Elantra appear larger than its actual dimensions would sugegst. Overall, it’s a striking vehicle and one that really needs to be seen in the metal before judgement is passed.
Safety bases are all covered and the Elantra designed to achieve a 5 Star ANCAP safety rating. Standard specification on all variants includes vehicle stability management, an electronic stability programme, front seat belt pretensioners, front and rear crumple zones and a six airbag package. Like all Hyundai vehicles the Elantra also has an emergeny pack that includes a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and safety vest.
Will the Elantra become NZ’s number one small sedan? That remains to be seen, but it certainly has the skills and the sharp looks to challenge for the title. It’s a genuine all rounder with its strengths being fuel economy, handling ability, a spacious cabin and fresh design inside and out. If you’re in the market for a compact sedan – the 2011 Elantra is a brand new option and one that’s worth consideration.
Check out images from the Elantra launch below. For more info and specifications go to www.hyundai.co.nz