Remember Elantra? It's not time yet to forget a car that was pleasing to the taste of many, but failed to sell in great numbers and disappeared in 2006. A six-year long void is now filled with the all-new Elantra that marks the continuing evolution of Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture design language.
One needs to work at Hyundai to differentiate the Elantra from its 'fluidic siblings' at the first glance. Even though the hexagonal grille presents a more sinister smile than the Verna, the fog lamps create a flavorless impression. Again, the head lamps are so similar to Verna's, but they extend further into the fenders. In profile, the Elantra too gets that well-defined line stretching from the front door to the tail light. The raked windshield, roofline flowing into the boot and the coupe-like rear side window add to the sporty stance of the car.
However, the Elantra has the sleekest and highest tail in its class and is arguably the best-looking amid other fluidic Hyundais. While subjective, I'd say it is the most attractive car in its class, at least until the 2012 Honda Civic comes along.
Space, Comfort & Convenience
The New Elantra's interior doesn't resemble that of cost-cutters sedans. The bits and bobs are well appointed, with no hint of cheapness or charade of luxury. The front seats are not only supportive and comfortable, but they are ventilated as well.
The rear seat of the Elantra is a great place to be in, thanks to amazing thigh support and legroom, ample headroom despite the low roofline, centre armrest with audio controls and cup holders along with rear AC vents. 2700mm wheelbase means there's acres of space in the cabin. However, Elantra has now spoiled you with the comfort of ventilated front seats, and you are definitely going to miss it in the rear seats. As with all Hyundais, Elantra comes with a host of features including reverse camera, heated ORVMs, glovebox chiller, power-adjustable driver seat, Bluetooth connectivity, to name a few. Moreover, it is equipped with tinted glasses, which means you don't care whether sunfilms are banned today or the ban is lifted the next day.
Ride and Handling
My love for this stunner waxes cold when it comes to handling. Like the Verna, again, the suspension set up is tuned toward comfort. Although this sedan offers decent grip in steady-state cornering, the rear end skips off like a lamb when you encounter a serious bump at speed. But on the flipside you get an extremely supple ride, with very less noise sneaking into the cabin. For a relatively big car, body roll wasn't much of an issue, either. Elantra's stopping power is also precise - 4-wheel disc brakes are standard on all variants. Steering felt light, but definitely not in a displeasing manner. Well, if you are looking for a comfortable highway cruiser, the Elantra will not disappoint you.
The new Elantra will be offered in four options - a 128 PS 1.6-litre diesel and a 150 PS 1.8 petrol - both in six-speed Manual and six-speed Auto. The diesel engine is borrowed from the Verna and as you are already aware, is so refined. Hyundai has integrated the Variable Geometry Turbochargers in an attempt to cut down turbo lag, yet there is a noticeable amount of lag that could be annoying in city driving.
My test car was the diesel MT, which is well-sorted and a friendly buddy for the shifting act and surprised me with its midrange punch. I got to sample the diesel automatic and the petrol automatic as well. The six-speed auto gearbox has a good spread of ratios, however, at some point I felt the gearbox loves to stay at short gears for longer. The Petrol engine, on the other hand, delivers power in a very linear fashion. Although I didn't get a chance to drive the petrol MT, I expect it to be more fun to drive, just like its diesel counterpart.
The all-new Fluidic Elantra is certainly the most distinctive shape in the D-segment in India. As a package, it poses a serious threat to its competitors in the segment. But, can it really give sleepless nights to them? The pricing will decide that.