Car news

17 January 2013

Saloon Car of the Year: Hyundai Elantra

If you thought Hyundai could only make small cars, well, think again

Girish Karkera
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It looks too much like the Verna – this was the first and only criticism of the car when people saw it in pictures. I guess they can’t be blamed because there are some lines in profile similar to the smaller Hyundai saloon. But keep the two cars beside each other and you’ll realise what a horribly incorrect statement that is.

Because apart from some lines on the side and that Hyundai badging in front, nothing really is similar. And while the Verna is a good-looking car for a lot of Indians, the bigger Elantra takes the saloon car business to a whole new level for the Korean carmaker.

In its segment, the Elantra has a number of worthy rivals – Cruze, Fluence, Jetta – all of which came last year. But the Elantra still emerges as a wholesome car that doesn’t compromise on any bit – be it on the equipment list, the 1.6-litre powertrains in both diesel and petrol, ride quality or space, among other things. Interestingly, we thought the new Sonata was the best ever Hyundai, only to be amazed by how streetsmart the Elantra is.

Hyundai has been in the business of car making for a long time. But the last couple of years have been pretty exciting when it comes to models that could give both the Japs and even the Germans a run for their money. Their design is still a bit over-the-top but we Indians seem to like it that way.

More importantly, the designs are now something they can harp about too. Their diesel engine technology has been the other runaway success story. It is clean and robust and meaty, and thankfully, the Elantra gets the 1.6-litre CRDi, which churns out a healthy 260Nm and 126bhp, making it more than capable in both city and highway runs. The plush ride can make even the bigger Sonata blush.

As a package, the Elantra is right up there with the best in its segment. It marries all the elements of a proper saloon car without making it look like a compromise. And that no-compromise bit is what we like a lot, especially at this price.

Tags: awards 12, hyundai, elantra

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