The all-new Fluidic Hyundai Elantra went on sale in the Indian market a month back at a starting price of Rs 12.5 lac, ex-Delhi. Interestingly, the diesel version starts at just forty extra grand and both the engine options come with optional automatic transmission as well. On paper, the Elantra surely looks all set to give nightmares to the current segment leaders, the Chevrolet Cruze and the Toyota Altis.
We drove both the engines extensively around Udaipur and needless to say, have our expert opinion on the big question – can this new Elantra successfully erase the unsuccessful memories of the earlier version sold in India?
Exteriors: The Elantra steps into a segment that is full with beautiful and modern designed cars. For any new entrant, side-lining cars like the Cruze and new Jetta will be a tough cookie to crack. However, for Hyundai’s newest, it’s a piece of cake for it comes designed keeping Hyundai’s fluidic design philosophy in mind, something we have already seen on cars like the i20 and the Verna. Infact, the recent success of Hyundai cars can somewhat be attributed to this very fact. The front is dominated by the stunning looking swept-back headlights coupled with Hyundai's signature hexagonal front grille, the result is an aggressive and handsome face. Stare at the sides and just like the Sonata's flowing lines, there is an addition of a strong undercut feature line starting at the front door. These lines, along with wheel arches and a sleek roofline, create a sporty looking car.
The all-new Hyundai Elantra rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, just two-inches longer than the previous generation. Its overall length has increased by 0.9 inches to 178.3 inches, with the 69.9- inch width remaining the same. The height has been lowered by 1.8 inches to 56.5 inches, without affecting headroom. The Indian Elantra comes with 205/60 tyres on 16-inch alloy wheels.
Like all Hyundai offerings, the interiors of the Elantra too are modern, great looking and loaded with features. Infact, the interior comfort and luxury in this car will be a strong selling point, especially at a price one has to pay for them. Coming back to the design, it is typical Hyundai and the curvy centre-console looks funky with the buttons neatly laid out. The steering wheel looks similar to the one in the Sonata and gets controls for audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and toggling between the driver information display! Talking of features, the top end Elantra comes loaded with dual-zone climate control, six air-bags, ESP, audio control for rear passengers, heated mirrors, keyless entry, keyless start-stop etc. We also love the blue back-lightning which looks uber cool once it gets dark outside.
Further, like most Hyundai offerings, the practicality factor never takes a back-seat with umpteen cubby holes and top notch ergonomics. Space up front is not an issue with two well-built 6-foot tall adults feeling at home. Further, the top end version comes with air-cooled front seat too. The rear passengers get pampered with audio controls and space is good, if not the best in class. What is worthy of a mention is the comfort of the seat which are soft yet well-padded for long journeys. The only issue we could find was the fact that short rear passengers will feel a bit confined inside due to the high window and low swooping roof.
The new Elantra comes with both a petrol and a diesel motor. We drove the 148Bhp 1.8- litre petrol engine first which impressed us with its peppy performance and sporty note when pushed hard. In city traffic, it performed adequately well and the 6-speed automatic gearbox performance was decently well. Infact, if you are not an enthusiastic driver, this automatic gearbox will not give you any reason to complain. That said, for those used to the DSG boxes of the German rivals will find it slow in response.
The higher selling engine option ofcourse will be the diesel unit. Hyundai has been clever enough to pick up the same 1.6-litre motor found on the Verna diesel and used it here to save costs. Infact, the segment is now used to small capacity diesel engines like the Altis 1.4 and the Fluence 1.5 and in this regard, prospective customers will have no issues. Powering out 126Bhp of power, the important figure here is the 260Nm of torque which gives good performance to the car, especially over 2000rpm. Like the Verna, it feels smooth and refined and the 6-speed manual we drove scored high points on the gearing front. In city, there is enough juice at crawling speeds though once you let your right foot go down hard, the Elantra 1.6 diesel does excite you nicely.
Both the engines are available in both manual and automatic transmissions – both being the 6-speed variety. Fuel economy is best in class too with the diesel managing 22.3kmpl and petrol 16.3kmpl as per ARAI testing. Now, that’s calling icing on the cake!
When we drove the new Sonata earlier this year and the new Verna last year, one thing was evident - Hyundai knows its job of making comfortable cars very well and this is further amplified with the Elantra. Infact, while enthusiasts might crib on the lack of handling from Hyundai cars, the fact is that 85% of the market has customers looking at comfort for their daily travel. We drove the Elantra on both city roads of Udaipur as well as the open highways of Rajasthan and the ability of the suspension, Macpherson Strut type with coil spring at the front and Coupled Torsion beam axle at the rear, to soak up bumps and undulations is remarkable. This coupled with a light steering makes the Elantra a very easy and fuss-free car to drive.
The only shortcoming of this kind of a suspension set-up is that at speeds over 120km/h with a load of four passengers, the car sometimes tends to wallow a bit. High speed cross winds too can make the handling a bit nervous but nothing that will be a concern to the driver or the occupants.
Starting at 12.5 lac (ex-Delhi), the Elantra is over a lac expensive than the base Toyota Altis but the former comes feature-stripped. Likewise, the diesel Elantra, starting at 12.91 lac (ex-Delhi), is cheaper than the Fluence, Laura and the Jetta – keep the standard features in mind and the Elantra suddenly makes a lot sense here. A typical buyer in this segment is surely looking for back-seat comfort and technology and Hyundai has left no stones un-turned in this department.
So, where does it lack? Is it the obvious similarity to its younger sibling the Verna in terms of looks? If that was the case, the car wouldn’t have got 750 bookings in just 2 days of its launch – an indication enough of its success!