Hyundai Elantra

The new Hyundai Elantra was launched some time ago and it has the distinction of being one of the few 2.0 litre C-segment sedans priced under RM100,000 which is sure to attract a few customers in this increasingly price sensitive market. We have just finished testing this Korean car. Here is what we found out.

Read Harvinder Singh Sidhu’s review after the jump.

Hyundai Elantra

Design

The new Elantra looks much more refined and mature now compared to the boxy old model. The first thing you will notice is the beautiful lines the car has along its sides that remind you of the Audi A5, as under the right time of the day, these lines will really stand out. It gives the car more character.

The front headlights seem to look at you more aggressively this time, and I would also say that the rear lamps compliment them very nicely. You will also notice that there is strangely no Elantra insignia anywhere on the car, instead there is only the “X20” emblem, which generally means the car has a 2.0 litre unit under the hood.

Hyundai Elantra
Click for larger image

Interior

The interior of this new Elantra is rather decent actually, since it did make me feel like I was sitting a luxury B segment sedan. It also has very good leg and head clearance for the driver, as well as for front left and rear passengers.

I was quite happy with the seating position as I didn’t get any back ache as result of a long drive. The car however does have huge looking centre dash, but I was pleased with it since it is fitted with lots of compartments, which is very practical. Another neat feature is a cabin luggage hook (located at front left passage area) which can carry items up to 3kg which very good news for us Malaysians since we can use it to hang our “teh tarik” (Malaysian Tea) packets, safely and in a more proper manner.

Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra is also fitted with a decent in-car entertainment system which can play CDs, MP3s, WMAs and is also equipped with an aux-in jack for your iPod or any other mobile music player.

The only thing I didn’t like was the way the climate controls were illuminated at night. I was taken back a little when I first noticed the “extremely blue” lights. Thank goodness it was connected to the rheostat. It was just too bright and I really thought I was going to lose my eyesight.

In fact the climate control buttons are made out of transparent white rubber, which to be honest, does not deserve to be associated with anything “Luxury”. They may just go yellow over time just like your old Nokia 5110 mobile phone from the late 1990s.

Hyundai Elantra

Driving

Here’s the part when I tell how I was disappointed by this new Hyundai Elantra. In my first few kilometers of the test drive, I straight away noticed how bad the car really handles, and I noticed this in a housing area at first, which is not good news at all.

Against my first impression, I took it to a more appropriate location so I can step the gas a little harder. After doing that, I had no choice but to follow my first impression. It was just going all over the place when I put the car under more pressure; and on top of that, I also learned that the brakes were shoddy as well.

The suspension is tuned heavily towards comfort and as a result the ride may get a little floaty at high speeds.

Hyundai Elantra

The 2.0 litre 16 Valve DOHC CVVT engine (143 PS at 6,000rpm and 186Nm of torque at 4,600rpm) seemed a little heavy on acceleration but at higher speeds it was more responsive. The gear change of the 4 speed automatic transmission with VFS and Grade Logic is rather smooth, but more gear ratios is preferred. If Volkswagen can put 6-speed units in all of their automatic cars and are now even phasing out autos for the 7-speed dry clutch DSG, I don’t see why 4-speed autos are still around.

In city driving, I’ve also noticed that this Elantra, which is fitted with an electric power steering system, has a good turning radius of up to 5.17 meters curve to curve. Safety wise, the car comes with standard dual SRS airbags, ABS (Electronic Anti-Lock Brake system) and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution).

Hyundai Elantra

Another cool feature the car has is a reverse warning sensor with voice, and distance display (fitted above the rear windscreen, from the inside). So basically, when put it into reverse and look at your rear view mirror, you can clearly see the distance in feet, and as you get closer to the object behind you, the car “talks” to you, alerting you on the distance.

Verdict

The Elantra looks great, with a decent interior and a respectable amount of equipment. It, however drives like a cow, and could do with stronger brakes. The engine and drive train performs reasonably well. We also found that the noise was a little on the loud side at highway speeds – more padding and soundproofing needed perhaps?

Another thing we forgot to mention is the Elantra’s very good fuel economy as it gives you about 12 kilometers per litre of petrol. In fact, Kah Bintang is also claims that this new Elantra can take you from Johore to Butterworth in a full tank of petrol (53 litres). Hyundai also added that the electric power steering feature saves you up to 1 mpg.

Hyundai Elantra

So, here’s the big question; would I buy it? Well for me personally, I won’t as it is not a driver’s car, but as a daily A to B driver it deserves serious consideration given the large interior space it offers and its low price point of RM93,888. It’s plenty of metal for your money.

Story by Harvinder Singh Sidhu, photos by Leong Tik Tsin and Paul Tan

PHOTO GALLERY: Hyundai Elantra X20
Click thumbnails to view high resolution photo

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