I’ve never been a huge fan of Hyundais. Sure, the new ones look very attractive and they certainly have a lot of equipment, and their engines (particularly the diesels) are punchy and smooth. I can see why that sort of thing will please most car buyers. But to me, Hyundais never had soul. They’ve always missed out on that last bit of driver involvement that makes cars special.
Which is why I’m pleasantly surprised by the Elantra. It still lacks soul, but I’m happy to say that with this car, Hyundai is slowly but surely getting there. I say that because the Elantra is a car that can be driven at higher speeds with a lot more confidence than any Hyundai I care to remember. Thanks to a steering that now has some weight to it and is reasonably direct, you at least know what the front wheels are up to. Then there’s the suspension that finds a nice balance between ride comfort and high speed stability, as I discovered on a rain-drenched jaunt down the Mumbai-Pune expressway. It’s still nowhere near its German rivals in this respect, but it is a whole lot closer now. So, a definite move in the right direction with the Elantra, then.
There is room for improvement. Load the Elantra up with five people and camera equipment (like we did for the M5 vs E63 AMG shoot) and you’ll find the rear suspension to be too soft – any kind of long-wave undulation would have the rear bobbing about excessively. This forces you to back off and slow down before things get out of control.
There aren’t many grouses otherwise. Our 13,800km car’s faux leather seats are looking a bit grubby (excusable as so many of us at Autocar drive it over so many different conditions). Also, there’s a small issue with the Bluetooth audio – you can’t skip tracks with the audio system buttons; you have to pull your phone out and change the music on it.
These are but small irritants in a car that has run faultlessly right through its term with us, and this dependability is, I guess, why most people buy a Hyundai. So Hyundai, well done with the Elantra. All you need to do now is some soul-searching.
Price: Rs 18.42 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 14.9kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: None