|Year Tested:||August 2001|
|Vehicle Make:||Hyundai Elantra|
|Insurance:||Get a quote|
|Equipment & Features|
|Comfort & Space|
|Handling & Braking|
The all-new Elantra is a vast improvement over the previous Lantra model it replaces. The big difference is in its general refinement. This, together with fresh styling, good build quality and value-for-money pricing and equipment makes the Elantra an option worth considering in the extremely competitive small to medium car class. Dynamically, its capable and easy to drive manner will satisfy the everyday needs of many people but won't excite the car enthusiast.
The rapid improvement in vehicle quality and refinement from Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, continues with small-to-medium size Elantra. The Elantra replaces the Lantra and is available in four door sedan or five door hatchback form, with two specification levels and two engine options. Although it does not set any new class standards, this all-new slightly larger model has plenty to offer prospective buyers.
Why the name change? Simply to bring the Australian version in line with the world market. In 1991 when the car first arrive here Mitsubishi was selling a Magna model called Elante and to avoid confusion Hyundai was forced to change the name of their car. So they dropped the 'E' and calling it Lantra.
Value-for-money rather than bargain basement pricing has the four variant line-up starting at a competitive $19,990 for both the 1.8 litre SE sedan or hatchback. The two higher spec GLS 2.0 litre versions come in at $21,990. Optional automatic transmission adds another $1,990 to each. This is a new adaptive shift, electronically controlled 4-speed auto which continually adjusts the shift pattern to suit the driving style.
Fresh new exterior styling creates a pleasant enough appearance but it does not really stand out in the car park crowd. The longer, wider body provides noticeably more cabin space to effortlessly seat four adults or squeeze in five if necessary. The doors open wide for easy access while rear head room is adequate rather than abundant. There is plenty of room in the boot for luggage, with a 60/40 split folding rear seat adding versatility to the carrying capabilities. In the hatch a double folding seat creates a wagon style flat floor
For an entry-level model, the GL's list of standard equipment is comprehensive. It's not all that long ago when air conditioning, driver's airbag, front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters, central locking, CD player, electric heated exterior mirrors, engine immobiliser and power operated front windows were the sole domain of expensive luxury cars. In addition to the larger capacity 2.0 litre engine GLS also boasts keyless entry, alarm system, front fog lights, lumbar and height adjustments on the driver's seat, rear heater ducts, power windows in the rear and electric antenna. Rear disc brakes are fitted to the hatchback models, due the extra load carrying potential (according to Hyundai), while an optional safety pack, consisting of ABS and a passenger's airbag is available across the range. As part of this pack the sedan's standard rear drum brakes are also upgraded to rear discs.
Improved interior trim quality and the general fit and finish also helps to raise the presentation standard. The cabin has an open feel, visibility is good and the controls are logically placed to make driving easier. Even with the extra adjustments for cushion height and lumbar on the GLS's driver seat, however, finding a comfortable driving position was difficult
Mechanically, the Elantra follows a similar format to the Lantra but has undergone a fairly extensive refinement program. Using the same Hyundai-designed 'Beta' DOHC 16-valve four cylinder engines in 1.8 and 2.0 litre variants the re-engineering work has focused on a reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), along with minor improvements in emissions, fuel economy, power and torque. Greater body strength and increased use of sound absorbing materials has also helped make the car much quieter, but we did not notice any significant difference in performance, which was already quite good
Both the 1.8 litre and 2.0 litre versions deliver more than adequate performance for everyday operation. A more precise gearshift action in the manual is a welcome improvement. In automatic form the car is naturally more leisurely, as our acceleration time show, but with the fuzzy logic controlled adaptive shift its changes are smooth and responsive. A good spread of torque through the range gives the 2.0 litre extra flexibility to deal with stop start traffic. Driven conservatively the manual 1.8 litre GL Elantra proved to be relatively economical, achieving 8.5 l/100 km overall. While the GLS also returned respectable figures for a 2.0 litre, when we worked the automatic up and down through the gears to take full advantage of the extra performance the fuel consumption rose accordingly. In mainly city and suburban running our GLS automatic sedan return an average consumption of 10.6 l/100km.
Reworking of the suspension has also delivered a better ride and handling package, which helps make the car competent, relaxed and easy to drive in normal use, although it's not yet a class leader when pushed to the limit. The brakes too do a satisfactory job, without being outstanding.
A feature often over looked is Hyundai's generous 5 year / 130,000 km which offers buyers a little extra peace of mind.