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The facelifted Hyundai Elantra has been introduced in Thailand (where it gets the Elantra Sport moniker), almost exactly a year after it was introduced in its home market of South Korea.

The big news is that the new car comes all the way from Malaysia, assembled by Inokom in Kulim. It replaces the previous Korean-built model and brings a drop in price thanks to ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) trade benefits. Reports indicate that another model could be imported from Malaysia within the next two years as the parent company reevaluates the importance of ASEAN markets.

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As a result of the favourable tariff rates, prices for the new Elantra in the Land of Smiles start at 749,000 baht (RM74,800) for the base GL model, rising up to 819,000 baht (RM81,800) for the GLE and 898,000 baht (RM89,600) for the top-spec GLS Navi. This is in contrast to the outgoing model, which came in at between 899,000 baht (RM89,700) and 1,198 million baht (RM119,600).

“The benefits from the AFTA scheme are quite significant,” said Hyundai Motor Thailand president Hideki Yanagisawa. “Not only do we a have more competitive cost, but there’s also a chance to enhance product appeal through a more premium equipment line up, which certainly makes this car a stronger contender amongst the compact C-segment range.”

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The raft of subtle changes include revised front and rear bumpers, new projector headlights (HID on the top model) with LED light guides, reshaped fog lights, chrome belt line mouldings, new LED combination tail lights and spiffy new 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the central air vents have been moved upwards and there are new rear air vents too. Also new are a 3.5-inch OLED Supervision display in the instrument cluster and a three-mode Flex Steer system also found on various Kia models.

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Thai models get just one engine and transmission choice – the 1.8 litre Nu four-cylinder producing the same 150 PS and 178 Nm as before, mated to the same six-speed automatic. So equipped, the Elantra goes from 0-100 km/h in 10.2 seconds before reaching its top speed of 202 km/h. Combined fuel consumption is rated at 14.08 km per litre.

Malaysia is one of the last remaining countries in the region yet to receive the facelifted Elantra, but seeing as we are already producing it for other countries, it shouldn’t be too long now before it reaches our shores.