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 too with the newly 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.
Ardie Lopez, former C! Editor now Creative Director/CEO at Sound Idea Communications, and I, tested a black, limited edition Euro-4 compliant 2.0-liter powered Elantra GL in Cebu recently at a Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. media event graciously hosted by Maria Fe Perez-Agudo, the President and Chief Executive Officer of HARI, with Paeng Batuigas, Assistant Vice President, that also showcased Edward Onglatco’s outstanding brand new Hyundai Cebu South dealership. I praise the new Hyundai corporate identity; the new design is consistent with the brand’s direction and vibrant value-packed product range. Edward’s dealership in particular is very impressive in scale, design, and execution.
With the Hyundai Cebu South dealership as our primary hub, we had a fairly lively paced convoy of brand-new Elantra’s to and from the lovely Carlos and Mariquita Yeung’ owned Kandaya Resort in Aguho, Daanbantayan, which is roughly 160 kilometers north of the city. With the pace and safety set by veteran 12-time Philippine Rally Champion Vip Isada and his Roadwise Motoring team, we were able to get a very good impression of the improvements on the new Elantra with the new 2.0-liter powerplant. In order to maximize the Cebuano driving experience, we took two different routes going and coming back from the resort. The first route used the Dalan Antonio y De Pio Highway/Transcentral Highway, which is always entertaining, and on the way back we took the shorter by 30 kilometers Central Nautical Highway, which is also much busier as you get closer to the city so they even out somewhat in travel time.
Our first test unit of the all-new Elantra months ago 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, and front & rear parking sensors, so I was hoping to test these features further with the 2.0 GL. Unfortunately, the 2.0 GL unit had none of those features, nor did it have the 17” x 7J 225/45R17 91W Hankook Ventus Prime2 tires, and 5.0″ color infotainment TFT LCD with Bluetooth. In place of the carried over 1.6-liter engine (which was not woefully anemic with the additional weight gain and proportions, gratitude to the updated the Shiftronic™ 6-speed automatic transmission to compensate, forward momentum was at least on par with the old model) however was the more potent 150 bhp 2.0-liter. With the stronger engine, the Elantra is good for 9.8 seconds from 0-100km/h, with a top speed of 205 km/h. The Drive Modes help by adjusting shift-timing, throttle and steering, so you can regulate the behavior of the car to suit your needs. Our test unit did perform fairly well with its best attribute being able to effectively absorb the rough road patches and when there was no road at all. The standard 6-speaker audio system rocked on splendidly, besting the audio quality of much more expensive systems on much pricier cars too.
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 neat 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.
The value-packed Elantra could become a segment leader again. My recommendation though is try to spend the extra cash over the 2.0 GL for the more full-featured 2.0 GLS at PhP 1,158,000.00. The extra P120,000.00 gets you leather seating, the better 17” alloys instead of the 16” x 6.5J alloys with 205/55R16 91H (not just for looks but for even better dynamic handling without sacrificing compliance), you get the rear camera, proper rear disc brakes in place of the drum brakes, front fog lamps, Smart key with start/stop ignition, and rear aircon vents.
Engine: Inline-4, 1999 cc, dohc 16V, D-CVVT, 6-speed Shiftronic AT
Max power: 150 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Max torque: 142 lb ft @ 4500 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 9.8 sec.
Top Speed: 205 km/h (128 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 10 L/100 kms. City / 5.4 L/100 kms. Highway
Retail Price: PhP 1,038,000.00
C! RATING 9/10
+Lengthy list of tangible improvements, smooth, comfortable, efficient
-The P120k premium price of the GLS is definitely worth paying up