You have to hand it to Hyundai. A decade or so ago the South Korean automobile manufacturer churned out cheap and cheerful cars in which refinement was not a strong suit.

Now, with the sixth generation of the Hyundai Elantra not only has refinement reached new heights, quality has followed while still maintaining its affordable status. And design no longer takes a back seat with Hyundai’s sleek design philosophy there for all to see.

The latest Elantra is not lacking in specification, with two levels – Active and Elite (Premium has been dropped) – offering buyers choices not often found at this price point.

At $21,490, the Active is marginally more expensive than the car it replaces but includes more than $2000 worth of added value, while the Elite carries $2000 to $2500 extra value.

We were presented with the mid-range Active automatic, at $23,790, plus on-road costs, to evaluate. It provided a clear insight into the Hyundai company philosophy.

Striking new looks set the tone of the new Elantra, a key feature being a more assertive front end than before thanks to Hyundai’s ‘family signature’ hexagonal radiator grille, slimline headlamps and LED daytime running lights. From the side, sweeping character lines work well.

Projector beam foglamps are standard across the range, while an impressive 0.27 drag coefficient is attained with the help of front wheel ‘air curtains’ – derived from the Sonata Hybrid – that help channel airflow around the wheels to minimise turbulence and wind resistance.

Other wind cheaters include strategically positioned underbody covers, a new-design lower rear bumper spoiler and longer boot lid.


Elantra’s stablemates, Genesis, Sonata and Tucson play their part with the Hyundai’s passenger cabin featuring driver-focused surroundings in which main controls are arranged in groups according to function – multimedia controls at the top, climate functions below on a stack angled towards the driver, and drive system operations on or behind the steering wheel.

Occupants are offered more shoulder room front and rear (up 7 mm and 12 mm respectively) and more rear headroom (up 4 mm) and, at 59 mm, a heap more leg room. Ambience is enhanced by alloy-look air vent surrounds and metallic-painted dashboard and door trim inserts.

A touchscreen multimedia system with 7.0-inch TFT LCD display is now standard in both Active and Elite, offering wide-ranging connectivity, including USB, Aux, digital iPod and Bluetooth.

Also standard is the Apple CarPlay system, including access to Siri voice-activation. A six-speaker audio has steering wheel-mounted controls.


Hyundai’s naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has taken over from the previous Elantra’s 1.8 motor and is paired with either six-speed manual (Active only) or six-speed automatic transmissions (Active and Elite).

Maximum power of 112 kW and 192 Nm maximum torque are up two per cent and eight per cent, respectively, on the outgoing Elantra. Low-end torque has been improved significantly, though its peak at 4000 rpm is very high.

The electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission, available in both Active and Elite, features a lock-up torque converter and sequential manual shift mode.

Six airbags (driver and front passenger, driver and front passenger side (thorax), and full length curtains) take care of passive safety and are standard across the Elantra range.

Active safety in all variants is in the hands of Electronic Stability Control, including Traction Control, Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake force Distribution, Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Management. Hill Start Assist helps in setting off on an incline.

LED daytime running lights are augmented by automatic dusk-sensing headlamps, while rear-view camera and rear parking assist come to the aid when reversing.

There may be what seem only minor increases in cabin dimensions of the new Elantra, but there is a feeling of a lot more space for occupants. Most appealing.

Cloth seats are adequate, the driver wins with height adjustment. There’s a tilt and telescopic steering column and one-touch turn signal with three flashes.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine musters up 112 kW of power at 6200 revs. Off the mark the Elantra is no sprinter. Fuel consumption on test, at 10.1 litres per 100 kilometres, turned out to be spot on with the maker’s mark around town. Our 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres on a motorway run beat Hyundai’s figure of 5.5 easily.

With discs all round, stopping was firm and responsive, while steering weighed in with the required driver confidence at higher speeds.

Extensive Australian testing and development, a regular feature of Hyundai product, has resulted in a stronger, stiffer chassis, hence outstanding ride and handling of the new Elantra.

The Elantra, in both looks and performance, adds to an outstanding range of vehicles coming out of South Korea, challenging the traditional leaders in this congested small-car market.



Elantra Active 2.0-litre petrol five-door hatch: $21,490 (manual), $23,790 (automatic)
Elantra Elite 2.0-litre petrol five-door hatch: $26,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

Six airbags
Electronic Stability Control including Traction Control System, Anti-lock Braking, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill-start Assist
Automatic dusk-sensing headlights
Front foglights
LED daytime running lights
Rear parking assist system
Rear-view camera
16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55R16 tyres
Full-size matching spare wheel
7-inch touchscreen audio system with MP3 capability, 6 speakers, AUX / USB audio input with digital iPod compatibility, works with Apple CarPlay
Bluetooth connectivity (hands-free phone & audio streaming)
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
Cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls
Front & rear power windows (driver’s one-touch auto down)
Height-adjustable driver’s seat
One-touch turn signal operation (3 flashes)
Tilt and telescopic steering column
Trip computer

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Elantra 2.0-litre petrol engine)

Capacity: 1.999 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 112 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 190 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.1 (7.2) L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 166 (167) g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed manual (6sp automatic)

Length: 4570 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1440 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1335 (1355) kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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