Hyundai has officially launched the new 2021 Elantra, and for the first time in the model’s history, the Elantra Hybrid is introduced as well. As you can clearly tell, the seventh-generation sedan now sports a four-door coupe look that stems from the automaker’s latest Parametric Dynamics design theme, and it’s the second car to fall under Hyundai’s Sensuous Sportiness design identity after the new Sonata.

To start, the C-segment sedan is now bigger than its predecessor in every way, with wheelbase stretched by 20 mm (2,720 mm), the body wider by 25 mm (1,826 mm), and height lowered by 20 mm (1,415 mm). It’s also nearly 56 mm longer in terms of overall length, now measuring 4,676 mm. That makes it longer than the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, and Honda Civic, although it’s worth noting that the Elantra sits as low as the Civic. It’s off to a good start, then.

Design-wise the car is entirely new, almost looking like geometric crystals, as Hyundai puts it. Sharp lines and deep creases are dominant features here, but perhaps no more imposing than the new Cascading Grille with “Parametric jewel-pattern.” This is directly connected to the LED headlights, creating a distinct and aggressive face. The prominent lower lip design, first featured in the 2019 facelift model, is intensified.

Things start becoming divisive when viewed from the side. Here, the use of sharp lines form an unusual Z-shaped impression in the front doors, while the rounded door handles are positioned above the sloping character line. Wheel sizes range from 15- to 17-inch items, and these of course are designed to match the Parametric Dynamics theme.

Like the Civic FC, the Elantra now gets a fastback look but with a conventional sedan’s boot mechanism (it doesn’t open hatch-style like a true fastback). A quick glance would have you believe that it’s a concept car for the future, largely because of the elongated bootlid and continuous LED strip. To further enhance the coupe-like look, the lower portion of the rear glass gets a large piece of black panel. Overall, the more you stare at this rump, the more lines you’ll find, but that might not be such a bad thing.

For the cabin, the designers have moved the front cowl point back nearly 50 mm, which had to be done to achieve the four-door coupe look. Hyundai says this doesn’t affect cabin space, considering that its footprint is now larger than the older Elantra. Now, the new cockpit looks suitably modern, and the combination of the two-spoke steering wheel and digital instrument meter help give it a welcoming sense of luxury.

Hyundai calls this the “immersive cocoon” interior layout, designed to envelop the driver like an airplane cockpit. Range-topping models will get two 10.25-inch displays which are conjoined, with the centre infotainment unit angled slightly towards the driver. The head unit also supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is a first for the segment. A standard eight-inch head unit is available for the rest, and it too supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

If it feels like it’s taken straight out of Mercedes-Benz’s playbook, well, let us tell you that the new Elantra also features a 64-colour LED mood lighting system. Other notable interior elements include slim air vents (much like modern Audis), a cornering grab handle for the front passenger, and voice-recognition system. Options include Qi wireless smartphone charging tray, Blue Link Connected Car System, and eight-speaker Bose premium sound system with Super65 wide-range speakers in the front doors and a woofer at the back.

Now, the Elantra sits on the automaker’s third-generation K3 platform for compact cars, developed to accommodate hybrid powertrains. Base models get the 2.0L MPI Atkinson Cycle engine that generates 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 179 Nm of torque at 4,500 RPM. An Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) is standard, which Hyundai claims to offer the best-in-class fuel economy.

This IVT is essentially a CVT, but uses a chain-design belt that improves fuel efficiency by 1.2% compared with conventional belt systems. The gearbox also improves acceleration and linearity between driver inputs, while the simulated gearshifts “closely replicates” automatic transmission step shifts.

For the Elantra Hybrid, power comes from a smaller 1.6 litre GDI Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine, featuring a permanent-magnet electric motor which delivers 43 hp (32 kW). This electric motor is powered by a 1.32 kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery pack that’s placed under the rear seats. The combined system output is 139 horsepower and up to 264 Nm of torque, with drive sent to the front wheels through Hyundai’s own six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. No official fuel consumption rating has been released, but Hyundai projects a combined EPA rating of over 50 miles per gallon, or 4.7 litres per 100 km.

Besides the brand new design, Hyundai also says the Elantra’s suspension has been tuned to provide better driving dynamics. The Elantra Hybrid employs a fully independent multi-link rear suspension which apparently makes the car drive sportier, with Hyundai going as far as to say that the car will drive as good as it looks. More technical details will be released soon, so be sure to watch this space for more updates.

As usual, Hyundai prioritises safety and driver assist systems (Hyundai SmartSense), so the 2021 Elantra gets Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), High Beam Assist (HBA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and rear view camera with dynamic guidelines as standard.

Optional systems include Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Highway Driving Assist (HDA; helps keep the car centred within lane), Safe Exit Warning (SEW), as well as Reverse Parking Collision Avoidance Assist (PCA) with pedestrian and obstacle detection.

Lastly, there’s also the optional Digital Key, which works via a dedicated mobile app. This uses the smartphone’s NFC and Bluetooth technology to unlock the Elantra’s doors, and this virtual key can even be shared with friends and family. What’s more, the Digital Key also allows owners to tailor several vehicle functions, such as duration of vehicle use. Currently, only phones running on the Android operating system can make use of this technology.

Production of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra will begin in September this year at two locations – Ulsan, Korea and Montgomery, Alabama. Sales will begin in the fourth quarter of the year. In Australia, the Elantra will be marketed as the i30 Sedan, while in Korea it will be sold as the Avante.