Hyundai Elantra Review

Hyundai Elantra Review

Speak to people in the know and they’re unanimous about the fact that the bottom has fallen out of the D-segment. The last launch here was the Skoda Octavia and that was two years ago. The Civic, that once upon a time was the best seller, was discontinued a long time ago and the Honda haven’t bothered with a replacement. VW have as good as given up on the Jetta. And do you even remember a car called the Kizashi?

It’s only the Corolla that’s selling, and from what I hear that’s mainly in the fleet market. It’s not for the faint hearted then, this segment, but then again Hyundai can hardly be accused of being faint of heart. And with this sixth generation Elantra (the name plate was introduced in 1990 and India got the 3rd and 5th generation cars) Hyundai is throwing everything at it. Two engines. Manual and automatic transmissions for both. Four trim variants. And a strong starting price. Will the segment finally see an uptick?

The updated styling isn’t overdone and looks good

A looker

That’s what the Elantra is. Recent Hyundais have all been head turners, but with this new Elantra they’ve gone one step further and created a car that not only looks good but doesn’t fall into that trap of being over-styled. The old Elantra was overdone, so was the Verna. This is neat, clean, sharp, aggressive and overall very nice looking. There are inspirations aplenty – the grille reminds you of Audi, the headlamps especially the lines of the DRL brings to mind the Jaguar XE, the taillamps are Alfa Romeo-esque – but it all comes together to create a car whose biggest trump card is styling.

Different design elements can be traced to different manufacturers but it all comes together well


The cabin has been significantly upgraded with dashboard skinned with a soft-touch layer of plastic that eliminates that hard scratchy feeling of old. The centre console is also ever-so-slightly canted towards the driver to give it that bit of a sporty feeling, enhanced by the all-black theme with silver accenting. Look closely at the pictures and you will notice sporty pedals too and there is a Drive Mode selector where you can call up a Sport map for the engine and transmission. That said, the driving position is not sporty and you sit way too high, even though the seat is height adjustable. You end up sitting on the car, rather than in it and every time you keep fiddling with the buttons trying to lower the seat.

It also looks very nice, has a nice big touch multimedia screen with logically and intuitively laid out menus, all the usual infotainment features including Apple CarPlay functionality and coolers for the two front seats on the top end variant. The driver’s seat on the loaded variant is electrically adjustable but the passenger’s side is not. A neat convenience feature though is when you walk up to the boot with the key in your pocket and bags in your hands the boot pops open to save you the struggle. On the safety front, twin front airbags and ABS are standard on all variants and in crash tests conducted by the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety it scored a very high TSP+ (Top Safety Pick +) rating. Side and curtain airbags along with electronic stability control are available on the SX(O) trim.

The interior quality is a step up from the old Elantra but the Germans still feel nicer

The quality is also much improved from the old Elantra but that said rivals in this segment, particularly the Octavia and Jetta, feel much nicer. There are quite a few hard plastic bits in the Elantra’s cabin, some bits like the driver’s arm rest feels flimsy, the doors don’t shut with that German thud, and some of the plastics are good enough for the Creta, not in a car costing twenty lakh rupees.

The coupe roofline doesn’t eat into headroom and there’s a good amount of space at the rear for those who will be chauffer driven, along with air-con vents (though no separate temperature control). It’s on par with the Corolla and Jetta but the Octavia is significantly more spacious.

Six-speed automatic is a torque convertor and not a dual-clutch transmission
Six-speed automatic is a torque convertor and not a dual-clutch transmission

On the road

Starting with the Elite i20 and then the Creta, Hyundai’s engineers have made great strides on ride and handling and the improvements over the old Elantra are obvious here. That propensity to bottom out over even small undulations at speed has been curbed, the body control is tighter and the suspension has been firmed up so it doesn’t feel loose and soggy. We drove this new Elantra from Chennai to the outskirts of Pondicherry over the East Coast Road that is smooth but patchy and it does have more confident road manners, tackling the few corners with newfound poise.

That said, the Elantra is no driver’s car. The steering, like the i20’s and the Creta’s, is completely lifeless and vague and delivers nothing in the way of feedback. The ride quality continues to be good and it remains a good car to be driven around in but to improve its road manners the damping is now firmed up so you feel more of the ripples and ridges in the road. However, unlike other premium cars (read Octy and Jetta), the ride doesn’t improve with speed. There is a lot of body vertical movement at triple digit speeds over undulating highways, big bumps and ditches catches out the suspension leading to the car being thrown around, and though it doesn’t bottom out (thanks to the new hydraulic rebound stopper) passengers sitting at the rear can get queasy and uncomfortable. All variants ride on 16-inch wheels with 205-section 60-profile Hankook tyres.

The Elantra has improved road manners and feels more tight

New petrol, old diesel

There’s a new 2-litre petrol engine in the Elantra and, just so you don’t forget, it is code-name Nu. However this isn’t a turbo-petrol that is becoming more and more popular, neither is the transmission a twin-clutch automatic. Hyundai is sticking with a naturally aspirated motor for now, the twin-cam, dual variable valve timing motor making 150bhp of power and 192Nm of torque. The new 6-speed automatic transmission is a torque converter with the afore-mentioned Sport mode, and you can also have a 6-speed manual.

Hyundai has stuck with natural aspiration for its petrol engine

With 150bhp performance is brisk with strong initial acceleration, and Sport mode does make the powertrain more sporty as the gears are held on to longer and also shifts quicker. This isn’t a DSG-quick gearbox, for sure, but it isn’t lazy either and is quite well suited to the car. You can hustle the Elantra along at a fair clip but when hustled the engine does get quite noisy so after a while you revert to comfort and revel in what the Elantra does best – cruising.

As for the diesel it is the familiar 1.6-litre CRDi that makes 126.2bhp and 260Nm. Code-named U2 this too is available with a choice of 6-speed manual and auto transmissions. Performance is nearly on the same plane as the petrol and with stronger bottom-end grunt she feels more relaxed, even more refined when driving through traffic.

This is the same engine found in the diesel Creta and Verna


Prices for the Elantra start at Rs 12.99 lakh for the petrol manual (ex-showroom Delhi) and the automatic petrol starts at Rs 15.9 lakh going up to Rs 18 lakh for the version tested here. The diesel starts at Rs 14.8 lakh for the diesel manual going up to 17.7 lakh for the SX(O) variant. Weirdly though, and unlike the petrol, the diesel automatic is only available in one fully loaded variant costing Rs 19.2lakh.

Can the Elantra then revive a segment that is on life support? A segment, if you recall, even Maruti could not crack? I think so and I will explain why.

Until recently Hyundai was known for making excellent small cars and that was that. Then the Elite i20 came along and turned things around for the Korean manufacturer, the transformation getting complete with the Creta. Hyundai are no longer makers of cheap and cheerful cars. Today Hyundai’s are aspirational, desirable, and – dare I say it – premium, and you won’t think twenty times before spending twenty lakh rupees on a Hyundai. That’s the difference. Today Hyundai can command serious money for a serious car and the Elantra is well equipped to make the most of it.

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