New Elantra impressions
It’s steady as she goes when it comes to New Zealand small-medium sedan sales, and Hyundai is ready to take advantage of that state with its new sixth-generation Elantra which reached showrooms in New Zealand last week.
A useful 40mm longer, than the old model with a longer, lower glasshouse and a new larger grille, flanked by shard-like front lamp clusters, the sharply sculpted new Elantra is a good looking addition to the Hyundai line-up, with my favourite part of its styling being the crisply chiselled side crease that links the LED front light clusters with those at the rear.
An interesting styling feature, which in truth represents a serious aerodynamic advance is the ducting seen in the two front quarters bumpers. They direct air into the front wheel wells to smooth out airflow down each side of the car and around the wheels, where normally much turbulence can occur.
By the time the year is through Hyundai expects to sell 300 examples of the new sedan in New Zealand with the suggestion that its first full year being likely to generate 600 sales plus.
There will eventually be three versions of the car, two 2-litre petrol fours and a 1.6-litre turbocharged car whose exact specification and name have not yet been finalised. The Elantra and Elantra Elite - which is what the two naturally-aspirated cars will be called - are aimed predominantly at the fleet and user-chooser business markets, but Hyundai says it expects private buyers will be attracted by the cars’ specifications and equipment levels.
The good news is that despite the improved specifications, larger interior space and extensive chassis refinements, the two cars are priced exactly the same as the models they replace, with the entry-point Elantra asking $35,990 and the Elite model asking just $4000 more while offering such kit as: Apple Carplay, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, smart boot, as well as front and rear park assist.
Hyundai’s first engagement in New Zealand with Apple’s Car Play phone/device integration occurred in the Tucson which was launched in late 2015.
Techies will be attracted by the use of the system in the Elantra where the set-up can allow its user to listen to and send text messages without taking their hands from the steering wheel. Android users will have their own versions of this technology later in the year.
The car’s tech also allows selection of favoured smartphone apps, playlists and navigation systems GPS navigation system and the Siri voice activation system.
The Elite model also has proximity key, automatic wipers and lights, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a premium entertainment set-up, dual zone climate air conditioning and push button start.
Powering the naturally-aspirated versions of the Elantra is Hyundai’s new NU-series 2-litre multipoint injected four, putting out 112 kW at 6200 rpm and 192 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm, and driving through a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain boasts average fuel consumption figures of 7.2L/100km.
The performance-leading car-with-no-name arrives later in the third quarter and will sport a 150kW turbocharged 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. We’re assured it will also have a sporting demeanour to match as well as larger brakes, a sports exhaust, special body kit and different interior trim as well as the choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT gearbox.
Hyundai New Zealand technical manager Gavin Young explains that there is always a demand for a manual gearshift, so the option is to be made available, though the DCT is likely to form the greater preference.
While we see mostly hatches and small and medium SUVs from Hyundai in New Zealand, globally the Elantra four-door is the Korean concern’s biggest selling vehicle with more than 10 million units sold worldwide.
For all its good-looking styling refinements and high levels of technology, the biggest news for enthusiastic drivers is the sixth-generation Elantra’s steering and suspension changes which were meted out in Australia and include extensive work on the cars’ springs, dampers, bushes and sway bars.
The car uses fairly conventional struts and coils up front and a torsion beam with coils at the rear but more than 40 different suspension set-ups were tried before engineers signed off the sixth generation Elantra.
The result is a reassuringly incisive and pleasing chassis, and the increases in torsional rigidity (largely thanks to increased use of higher tensile steel) are obvious from kilometre one, with well-contained body movement, and a flat, firm cornering stance.
The electric power steering system has a nice meaty feel and works well both ways - reacting precisely to driver input and transmitting excellent feedback in return.
Hyundai also appears to have mastered the dark art of blending a sportingly sharp chassis with an ability to dispatch bumps and uneven surfaces with unlikely aplomb.
With a good, punchy powertrain and well selected gearing, along with the excellent chassis’ user choosers in this bracket never had it so good. I cannot think of a Japanese equivalent C-segment car that’s as good as this, and that’s without taking into consideration the new Elantras’ price and specification.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to experience the upcoming as yet unnamed sporting Elantra and its turbo engine. One thing’s for certain, we know the Elantra’s chassis up to it!
Nice work Hyundai, any user chooser in the C-segment who doesn’t choose the Elantra must be nuts.