It’s hard work keeping track of Hyundai’s sedan range. The Elantra II potentially covers a lot of ground between the small and medium segments.
Base price: $39,990.
Powertrain and performance: 1.8-litre petrol four, 110kW/178Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 7.1 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4550mm long, 1430mm high, 2700mm wheelbase, kerb weight 1309kg, luggage capacity 485 litres, fuel tank 50 litres, 17-inch alloy wheels on 215/45 tyres.
We like: Striking looks, luxury equipment, lots of space for a small car.
We don’t like: FlexSteer is a gimmick, average performance and handling.
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? There are a lot of things Hyundai is good at. But making its model ranges simple and clear to consumers isn’t one of them.
Take the brand’s sedan models, for example: not only has it had two different mid-size offerings in recent times, the Asian/American-focused i45 and the European-market i40, it has also started to flip-flop between numbers and names. The just-launched replacement for the i45 has brought back the familiar Sonata name.
In the midst of all this we have the Elantra II sedan, which is ostensibly a small car but is certainly spacious enough to be considered a medium-segment contender.
To clarify, the Elantra is essentially the sedan equivalent to Hyundai’s i30 hatchback, although (as ever) it’s not quite that simple. The Elantra is an Asian/American model, while the i30 was designed for Europe. So they don’t really look or feel that similar.
Actually, the Elantra is 250mm longer than the i30; as we said, it has more of the mindset of a mid-sizer.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Aside from some minor styling changes inside and out, last year’s facelift (hence the name Elantra II) brought Hyundai’s FlexSteer system and a suspension revamp courtesy of the brand’s Australian distributor.
We’ve written about FlexSteer plenty of times on this site: it’s a system that allows you to choose between three different steering weights via a pushbutton on the steering wheel. Weight doesn’t equal feel and so the system is really more a novelty than anything – acknowledged by the fact that Hyundai and Kia are moving away from it in future models. Novel idea though.
The suspension revamp is more successful and ensures that the Elantra is a capable and confident, if not engaging, machine on the road. The 1.8-litre engine is not exactly a powerhouse, but the six-speed automatic is a smooth operator and Hyundai has managed to achieve impressive fuel economy with this model: an overall figure of 7.7 litres per 100km is a good result for a car of this size.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The Elantra provides a spacious cabin front and rear and a genuinely large 485-litre boot, giving it real potential as a family/fleet vehicle.
It has a premium appearance inside as well, with the curvaceous styling of the exterior echoed around the interior architecture. Look closer and some of the hard plastics belie its small-car status, but overall it punches above its segment for perceived quality.
Some of the switchgear looks overly ornate, but ergonomically the cabin is very good. The steering wheel-mounted controls fall easily to hand (or thumb) and there’s a new touch-screen information and entertainment centre. Hyundai’s excellent satellite navigation system with Suna traffic assistance still isn’t standard on this model, though: there’s an enhanced $43,990 version of the flagship Elantra Elite called the Limited that brings that technology.
The Elite has some big-ticket luxury equipment such as leather upholstery and seat heaters, but it also has its share of nice detail touches: there’s an automatic windscreen demist function for the air conditioning, for example, a one-touch triple-click function for the indicators and powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat. Hyundai still does iPod integration better than most makers, too: it’s truly plug and play.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? The Elantra II won’t wow you with its performance or chassis prowess, so in that respect it’s the product of a very different ethos from Hyundai’s sporty i40 sedan.
But overall, the Elantra package certainly feels a cut above the small-car mainstream. It has the size, equipment and perceived quality to cross over into the medium market – or rather, encourage people to downsize from that fast-shrinking segment.
It certainly looks the part. The Elantra’s extreme curves are far from subtle, but it’s a styling template that Hyundai has fully committed to in this car, inside and out, and to our eyes it all works brilliantly.
- Blind spot warning: No
- Lane guidance: No
- Cruise control: Yes
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Intelligent headlights: No
- Parking radar: Front and rear with camera
- Self-parking technology: No
- Head-up display: No
- Satellite navigation: Limited model only
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Stop-start: No
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
- Leather upholstery: Yes
- Power boot or tailgate: No
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Find a Hyundai Elantra for sale on Autotrader.