Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Pictures: Nicolas Calanoc
I wouldn’t be surprised if the same excellent team of Hyundai engineers and designers who had worked on the current 7th generation Sonata mid-size sedan applied the same strategies to the new compact, 6th generation Elantra. Why? Because the new Hyundai Elantra feels and drives very much like a smaller version of the Sonata, which is a good thing. Aesthetically, the corporate identity using the “Dynamic Precision” Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language is deliberately obvious both in the cabin and the exterior, which you will certainly see soon too with the upcoming facelifted Santa Fe.
A big part of this redesign strategy is to refine and cultivate the current chassis further while controlling the natural costs of development. Once again, similar to the application to the Sonata, which looked more extroverted and avant-garde in its more organic previous form, the new Elantra is also more subdued now in appearance but has a deeper flow of usable updates and features underneath the skin, which you actually do not see but experience.
For example, there is supposed to be 53% more ultra-high strength steel used for more rigidity benefitting ride comfort and safety, there are 384 more feet of robotically applied aerospace adhesive beads in place of spot welds and fasteners for continuous bonding along a seam for additional stiffness, the suspension has been reconfigured- the rear torsion-beam has a longer and more vertical shock absorber (now covered in a plastic panel for both protection and less drag) while the front MacPherson strut has also been reset for better impact damping and compliance, there are more cabin sound quality measures applied too, there are sound-deadening materials in the wheel wells, improved sub-frame isolation, reduced firewall breaches, thicker window glass and front windshield, and dual impact beams for the rear seats with reinforced B-pillars. Unfortunately, all these durability and performance measures add about 50 kilos of weight. Thankfully, you don’t actually feel the weight gain because of the quantum leap of refinement above the old Elantra, which always felt a touch fragile, even flimsy, when driven over imperfect surfaces. The new Elantra drives with a lot more substance.
Our test unit was a preproduction model with a lot of excellent equipment like a moonroof, smart trunk, cruise control, rear camera, climate controlled fronts seats, HID headlights, LED DRL & Rear light cluster, front & rear parking sensors, 17 x 7J 225/45R17 91W Hankook Ventus Prime2 tires, 5.0″ color infotainment TFT LCD, Drive Modes to adjust shift-timing, throttle and steering, and so much more, propelled by a carried over 1.6-liter engine that should have felt woefully anemic with the additional weight gain and proportions, but since Hyundai also updated the Shiftronic 6-speed automatic transmission to compensate, forward momentum was at least on par with the old car. Hyundai does make two more engines for the new Elantra: a 150 bhp 2.0-liter (good for 9.4 seconds from 0-100km/h, and a top speed of 210 km/h) and a new ECO-focused 1.4-liter turbo mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic.
The improved .27cd aerodynamics, which helps extend fuel range and create a quieter cabin, has a more streamlined front bumper with air scoops above the front fog lamps that channel air around the wheel area that Hyundai calls a “wheel air curtain,” which is supposed to reduce turbulence and keep the front end more planted. The aerodynamic measures continue on to the sculpted rear trunk that now has a built-in rear spoiler like some European premium cars. Despite the same wheelbase as the outgoing model at 2700 mm, the new Elantra is 20 mm longer, 25 mm wider, and 5 mm taller, which does not amount to much on paper, but in the metal, the redesign and extra dimensions create almost the largest cabin in its class, only marginally second to the Toyota Altis. Priced competitively, the value-packed Elantra could become a segment leader again.
Engine: Inline-4, 1591 cc, dohc 16V, D-CVVT, 6-speed Shiftronic AT
Max power: 128 bhp @ 6300 rpm
Max torque: 116 lb ft @ 4850 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 11.2 sec.
Top Speed: 198 km/h (124 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 9.2 L/100 kms. City / 5.2 L/100 kms. Highway
Retail Price: PhP 978,000.00 (1.6L GL) / PhP 1,018,000.00 (2.0 GL)
+Lengthy list of tangible improvements, smooth, very comfortable, efficient
-Uncertain retail equipment levels, perhaps it’s dynamically too conservative
C! Editor’s Rating: 9/10