It may seem a strange time to be launching a new mid-size sedan as global figures indicate the small SUV is very soon to be the reigning king of mid-size vehicles, but to Hyundai the Elantra is a number one seller. Its 25 year history is one of great success, selling over 10 million worldwide over its 5 generations in the Hyundai line up. Hyundai hope to continue this legacy of success in 2016 with the launch of their latest model in the Elantra family.
The 6th generation of Elantra brings a new level of design and technology to the family to provide a modern, smart and stylish alternative to the trend of small SUV’s and hatches in the midsize market.Coming in two variants at launch, with a 1.6 turbo model to come later in the year that comes with sportier looks and performance to match. For now however you have the choice between the $35,990 2.0 A6 or the $39,990 2.0 Elite A6.
Both variants share the same 2-litre four-cylinder petrol CVVT engine that produces 112kW of power at 6,200 rpm and 192 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, which is delivered to the wheels through either the 6-speed automatic or the optional 6-speed manual transmission, both giving a combined consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres.
The Elantra does its best to make the most of this performance with improvements to the aerodynamics including vents on the front bumper that divert air to the outside of the front wheels, helping to reduce drag and air turbulence along with rear diffusers that cover the suspension and allow air passing under the car to exit with less turbulence, further reducing drag. These features and more deliver a drag coefficient of 0.27.
Hyundai have also been focusing on the way the car feels with improvements to the structure giving a 25% improvement to rigidity and 29% increase in bonding strength over the previous generation of Elantra. The all-new subframe design promises firmer lateral resistance in corners while adjustments to the steering rack, moving the unit both forward and up, has been made to improve feel while new chipsets in the electric motor driven power steering improve response and feedback back through to the driver.
The Elite model adds to the experience with larger alloy wheels, chrome belt line and door handles, Led Projection headlamps and Daytime Running Lights on the outside and the option of leather or fabric 3-stage front heated seats, proximity key and engine start/stop button, dual-zone climate control on the inside.
Technology offering in the new Elantra does not leave you wanting with the inclusion of Apple Car Play as standard and the option of Android Auto coming later this year. The Elite model also includes Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Assist. My personal favourite feature however is Hyundai’s smart boot which will open the boot lid automatically if you stand for a few seconds at the rear of the vehicle. Very handy when you are doing the weekly shop and have to handle the groceries and the kids at the same time.
So how does the all new Elantra feel to drive when you put all this together and finally get to sit behind the wheel? First impressions give a reminder that Hyundai really do make very good cars. You sit facing a leather wheel and an elegant console that feels more akin to European manufacturers, with a high quality feel rubberised dash and plastic trim. The ergonomics centre around the driver with the 7-inch touch display, audio input and climate control buttons angled slightly towards the driver’s position. The buttons are subtle and don’t litter the console unnecessarily, though I did feel that the steering wheel controls were a little too many in number and could lead to confusion while on the go and trying to remember which was what without looking down.
The seats have a nice bolstering to them that will help stave off driver fatigue on longer drives and the steering wheel itself is a nice size with a quality leather grip. The cabin doesn’t do anything special when it comes to deadening road noise but you won’t have any trouble hearing your passengers in conversation.
The Elantra has a nice ride to it. It easily handles rougher country roads and the odd bump without discomfort yet corners firmly enough, putting those lateral strength bushings to work, so you don’t have to guess where the weight is going to shift to. The engine and transmission work well together, delivering the power evenly and providing plenty of pull for passing maneuvers. Although throwing it though some twists up a steep hill does confuse the transmission slightly, causing it to drop down a gear a little later than you would like, the gear changes we intuitive in most every other situation.
I’ll reserve proper judgement untill we get to have the car for a proper Road Test, but my day with the 2016 Elantra left me impressed that a car in its price range could come so well spec’d and drive so nicely. If you are in the market for a new car or are looking to refresh your fleet for your sales team, then the Elantra is definitely worth a look.
-Roger Baillie (@RustyRoj)