Hyundai’s Elantra has plenty of inner space

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Price: $26,490 + $3364 (approx) ORC.
Engine: 2.0L petrol, 6spd auto.
Safety: ESC, ABS, 6 airbags, reversing camera and sensors.
Economy: 8.0L/100km.
RACV rating: * * * *

Hyundai’s small Elantra sedan has sometimes been regarded as an i30 with a boot. This hasn’t been too far off the mark as they had used a similar platform and shared mechanical components. The Elantra is often under-rated. Sales last year favoured the i30 over Elantra by about four to one; this, however, does also reflect Australian buyers’ love for hatchbacks.

Looks smart

The smart-looking 2016 Elantra is the first of a new generation, built on an all-new platform with structural improvements, revised suspension configuration, a bigger petrol engine and upgraded features. The line-up has also been cut down to just two equipment levels, the Active from $21,490 plus on-road-costs for the six-speed manual (the six-speed automatic option is $2300), while the auto-only Elite is $26,490 plus on-road costs. To complete our car review, we did a full test on the Elite and also drove the Active auto.

Already one of the roomier cars in the class, the new model’s fractionally bigger body equates to a touch more interior space in all directions. The most apparent gain is rear leg room, and while our measurements also reveal slightly more rear head room, the sloping roofline means it’s still tight for tall passengers. Elantra’s width and seat shaping will accommodate three adults in the rear better than most of the competition but it is still a squeeze.

Base model well equipped

The Active is relatively well equipped for a base model, and while extra features and leather trim in the Elite provide a worthwhile step up in quality and function, there are a few desirable items missing. The presentation is a touch conservative but it is extremely functional, with a sense of attention to detail in the fit and finish.

Bluetooth connectivity and a clear seven-inch touch-screen with an excellent reversing camera are standard across the range. Navigation, however, is left to phone connection via Apple CarPlay, which is displayed on the touch screen. It will consume your phone data. At the time of our review, Hyundai was not offering Android connection but hoped it would be available on later-built cars.

Although Elantra has a five-star ANCAP rating, active safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, blind spot warning and lane departure warning, which can be found either as standard or optional equipment on some competitors, are not available on Elantra.

Enough power for around town

Both Elantra versions are powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine, which delivers a little more power and torque than the 1.8-litre engine that the previous model shared with the current i30. It will not out-run the class leaders but it’s sprightly enough for around town. With an extra eight per cent of torque on tap, which importantly is developed lower in the rev range, there’s a welcome improvement in drivability where it’s needed for everyday use. Likewise the automatic transmission is set up for a flowing, easy-going driving style. While it cruises along comfortably in the higher gears, when you do ask for a little more performance the down-shift is quite distinctive with a noticeable increase in engine noise as the revs climb.

Rivals beat Elantra for fuel consumption

In many other classes an official fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km, and even a return of 8.0L/100km in real-world driving on our test week, would be considered a good result, but against its rivals these figures show Elantra to be relatively thirsty.

Continuing the focus on what owners want and need from a car in this category, Hyundai’s Australian engineers have taken full advantage of the stiffer chassis and new suspension architecture. Extensive local testing and fine-tuning has delivered a compliant, well-controlled small-car ride that is comfortable over almost all surfaces. Light steering and reassuring roadholding provide a pleasingly agile feel without being overly sporting.

Hyundai Australia has not certified Elantra with a recommended towing capacity, confirming that, like the previous model, towing is not recommended.

The verdict

In what is now typical Hyundai fashion, Elantra is a well-built sedan that has been cleverly crafted to deliver exactly what the majority of buyers are looking for in this category. It doesn’t set new class standards in any specific areas but is a neatly-rounded package that displays a pleasing level of maturity and appeal.

There is a good dose of style, space and comfort, complemented by a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Fuel consumption could be a little better, while the omission of a couple of desirable features has let down what otherwise is a prudently chosen equipment list.

Report: Greg Hill


Price. $26,490 + $3364 (est) ORC. Premium paint $495. Model range $21,490-$26,490.

Safety. ESC. ABS. 6 airbags. Reversing camera/sensors. Auto lights/wipers. ISOFIX fittings. Daytime running lights. Front fog lights. Five-star ANCAP rating.

Connectivity. 7” touch-screen. Bluetooth. Apple CarPlay. AUX/USB input.

Vehicle features. Dual-zone climate-control. Leather trim. Auto boot. Alarm.

Driver features. Fully-adjustable steering column. Keyless entry/start. Electric folding side mirrors.

Specifications: Drivetrain: 1999cc, 4cyl petrol engine. Front-wheel-drive. 6spd auto. 112kW@6200rpm, 192Nm@4000rpm.

Performance: 0-60km/h, 4.5sec. 0-80, 6.7. 0-100, 9.8. 50-80, 4.3. 60-100, 6.0. 0-400m, 17.0. Stopping from 80km/h, 21.7m.

Fuel: 8.0L/100km (RACV test); 7.2L/100km (govt test). 50L tank. 91-RON petrol.

Wheels: 17” alloy, 225/45 R17 tyres. Full- size alloy spare. Towing limits: Not advised.

Environment: 167g/km CO2.

Service/repairs: 12-month/15,000km services. 5yr/unlimited km warranty.

Comparable cars

MAZDA3 TOURING. The top seller in this class, it delivers on style, ability and value for money. $27,290 (2.0L petrol)

TOYOTA COROLLA SX. The sedan has more space than the hatch. Easy to drive and economical to run. $25,240 (1.8L petrol)

HONDA CIVIC VTi-L. Just-released, the all-new Civic from first reports is showing plenty of promise. $27,790 (1.5L petrol)

Category ratings

Pricing: * * * *
Features & equipment: * * * 1/2
Presentation: * * * *
Seating comfort: * * * 1/2
Space: * * * *
Ride quality: * * * *
Noise: * * *
Performance: * * * *
Economy: * * * 1/2
Handling & braking: * * * *
Safety (ANCAP): * * * * *

* More RACV road tests and car reviews.

Written by Greg Hill
September 19, 2016

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