An important facet of the product presentation of the Hyundai Elantra was the focus on the increased rigidity and safety of the new car. According to the statistics, the usage of high-strength steel in the structure of the car has gone up from 21% to 53%. What that means, in plain speak, is that the car is now stiffer and more rigid than ever, something that is mighty useful for our roads. As a result, there are also added benefits, while driving the new Elantra, one can feel that it’s now got a stiffer structure, and as a result, feels more planted and solid.
When you look at it visually, the new Elantra is not a complete revolution from the older car, but it is a pleasant update which has substantially sharper looks, as well as added presence. The new gunmetal wheels make for a nice contrasting touch to the looks, and the tail lamps look absolutely fantastic. There are other interesting touches to the design, such as the front fog lamp housing, which is also an aerodynamic accessory, and the contrasting colour of it adds an interesting touch to the whole car. Of course, the biggest change, for me at least, is in the interiors, they have been completely rethought, well executed and look great. The new 8-inch touchscreen works well, while the more driver focused center console and the steering with added features are a treat. Additionally, I love the fact that for once we have a car without beige interiors, and quite prefer the all-black interiors with a smattering of matt silver detailing.
Interiors room too is aplenty, and the rear seats feel like they would be a nice place to spend time in. Not to say the fronts aren’t better though, with ventilated seats available, the front buckets also make for a great place to spend time in. The highlight though is the new six-speed automatic transmission; with a new torque converter, the gearbox shifts smoothly, is quite responsive and is a welcome addition to our traffic woes. Paired with the 1.6-litre 126bhp diesel engine in our test car, the combo made a pleasing car to drive. Add to that the solid feel the Elantra now exudes even at high speed, and one can start understanding the appeal of the car.
Having faced severe criticism for the suspension setup of its cars for years, Hyundai seems to have finally turned a new leaf as far as driving appeal is concerned. The cars now feel much tauter, handle very well and cruise comfortably at high speeds. And the Elantra sets the new benchmark for the brand in it, not to mention that the car is still very comfortable and doesn’t feel overtly stiff.
So, with a pleasing design, fantastic interiors and a good driving package, the Elantra seems to gunning for the big guns in its segment. Only question is, in a segment which doesn’t see very high volumes, is the Elantra enough to generate customer interest and maintain it? That is a question that only time will answer.
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