Hyundai’s Elantra stands test of time

ELANTRA ELITE: .Important part of the Hyundai line-up.

Hyundai’s Lantra, or Elantra as it is now known, is one of the company’s most successful nameplates.

It was first introduced as a mid-size sedan in 1990, and has progressed through five generations; the latest all-new, sixth-generation variant has just been released onto the New Zealand market.

The Elantra arrives in two specifications, both with the one body style, bearing in mind that previous generation models have had station wagon options. I guess with the way the station wagon market has given way to sport utility vehicles, Hyundai would still be comfortable with just the one variation.

Elsewhere, the concept of Elantra hasn’t changed, it captures all of the features which has made the model so successful, yet packages them in a functional, appealing package.

The test was badged Elite specification and lists at $39,990, an entry-level model sits $4000 below that.

Under the bonnet sits a 2-litre, twin-camshaft, petrol engine which is a relatively new design for the Korean company. Rated with power outputs of 112kW (6200rpm) and 192Nm (4000rpm) it is a free-revving unit which drives through a six-speed automatic gearbox, incidentally it is the only transmission in the range.

Hyundai also claim a 7.2-litre per 100km (39mpg) combined cycle fuel usage rating for the Elantra. During my 150km road evaluation the fuel usage readout was listing constantly at around 8.6l/100km (33mpg) which sat well with Hyundai’s claim. At 100km/h on the highway the engine is turning over at just 2100rpm in top gear providing a 5l/100km (56mpg) instantaneous return.

Hyundai have long had a reputation for building high quality vehicles, and those which provide its occupants with comfort and an easy driving experience. The Elantra doesn’t dip out on those facets.

I took the test car on my usual test route through the Canterbury high country. It cruises quietly on the long straights and has direct steering into a corner.

The suspension is a mixture of McPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear. As much as I like fully independent designs, the simplistic system in the Elantra is well located and movement isn’t compromised greatly.

The Elantra isn’t overly firmed through the spring and dampers, absorption over Christchurch’s ruts and bumps is arrested, and when you push into a corner it is composed through the underpinnings with balanced body movement.

Providing the grip are Korean-made Hankook Ventus tyres (225/45 x 17in). They are sticky compound, and issue the driver with solid feedback as to how they are reacting to cornering pressure.

Add to that the solid flow of power that arrives from the engine and you have a vehicle that could easily be classed as a sports sedan. Sure, its demeanour doesn’t suggest that it is truly exotic, but what its performance translates into is a responsive, dynamic car which is at home on the twisty nature of New Zealand’s roads.

In terms of specification, the Elantra arrives with a host of features for comfort and convenience and, of course, safety. Some of the major items of fitment include full leather trim with heated front seats, touch screen display with Apple CarPlay, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control and dual-zone climate control.

I’ve written many times in the past about the direction Hyundai is taking as a company. It has high aspirations and the model line-up is vast.

Hyundai has done the hard yards in establishing itself as a globally recognised manufacturer of first-class vehicles, and it’s fine cars like the Elantra that will keep those loyal to the brand entertained and satisfied for many years to come.