It’s as low-slung as an Audi A7 and gets more oohs and aahs than many a Merc. Its build quality and fit and finish are so good that many refuse to believe this is a Hyundai. But a Hyundai it is, just one of the better ones. We were similarly impressed when we drove the Elantra for the first time, and excited about its attractive fluidic design and long equipment list. The diesel was smooth and got the job done and the Elantra even handled and rode reasonably well. Yes, we were pleasantly surprised. Question is, can the Elantra continue to impress after weeks and months of familiarity?
It’s been a very busy start for the newest member of our garage. Almost as soon as it arrived late last year, the Elantra was pressed into the Car of the Year list, where it impressed many a judge and won plenty of accolades.
The Elantra was then entrusted to me to drive back from our Car of the Year event in Pune, and that’s when it really started to grow on me. Even though I was tired after a day and a half of running around like a headless chicken, the comfortable cabin provided the perfect environment for a relaxed drive down.
The Elantra may not have the most powerful diesel in its class (it is the same as the Verna and puts out 126bhp), but far from feeling underpowered the six-speed manual gearbox and its set of nicely chosen gear ratios kept it moving forward quite smartly. Even better was the fact that it felt composed and relaxed even at speed. Keeping the pedal down on the Mumbai-Pune expressway needed no extra dose of concentration and the Elantra displayed none of the vague wandering habits its smaller sister, the Verna, has become infamous for at the Autocar office.
Recently however, I’ve been using the Elantra for the everyday commute from my house in Bandra to our office in Parel, clocking no more than a few kilometres each way. And it’s been ticking the checkboxes here too. I instantly developed a liking for the music system, and the USB/AUX-in port lets me charge my iPhone and play music at the same time. This top-end variant is also equipped with cooled seats at the front, perfect for cooling down the seats on a hot day.
While I find the driver’s seat pretty supportive and comfortable, some of my colleagues find it placed unusually high. For most, however, this problem can be almost totally eradicated with the electric 10-way adjustable setting.
The Elantra’s 1.6-litre motor is at its best above 2000rpm, so traversing the Bandra-Worli Sealink is a breeze. However, once I’m off the Sealink and the revs fall, there is a bit of turbo lag, which can be a pain. Navigating through traffic however is made easier by the fast-acting and light electric power steering. Also, the light clutch and gearshift make sure my muscles aren’t taxed too much. Ride for a major part of my commute is pliant, but the stiff dampening does come to notice when I get to the under-construction patch of road just outside office. And while the mirror-integrated reversing camera display is a great feature to have in the parking-spot-starved Parel vicinity, many a times have I rued the lack of front parking sensors.
Later this month we plan to take our Elantra and subject it to our hotel lobby tests. We’ll mix it up with the Jags, Mercs and BMWs in the lobbies of a couple of five-star hotels, and see how the diamond-encrusted members of our society react.
What I also can’t wait to do is take the Elantra out on another long highway run, where I’ll be able to put more of its features to good use. The 485-litre boot has managed to fit in our photography equipment pretty well, so I’m sure friends and family will be more than happy too on weekend trips. Levels of comfort provided should mean even really long drives could be enjoyable. There’s much more to follow in our future reports.
Hyundai Elantra SX
Price: Rs 18.15 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 14.9kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: None