Formula One

09 July 2012

First Drive: New Hyundai Elantra

Seems like Hyundai's taking the safer route with this one

Girish Karkera
Car image



Hyundai is all set to fill the great void between its more-than-capable new Sonata luxury car and the mid-sized new Verna. The fifth-generation Elantra is scheduled for an India launch and TopGear got a chance to try out the wares before it hits the showroom.

The new car is bigger than the third-gen Elantra, sold here till a couple of years back. It wasn’t a raring success, which made Hyundai India skeptical about the fourth-gen model, which they never bothered with. But it’s a different confidence level now with the success of the new fluidic design and its quick acceptance by the Indian audiences.

One of the biggest problems with the last Elantra was its dated look, but the new one has clearly gotten over that. In profile the car reminds of the Verna, although it is significantly bigger. The front and rear ends are distinct, yet, has a very Hyundai family look with its minimal grille, swept back headlamps and a high coupe-style boot.

Interiors are spacious and well appointed. Hyundai has played safe with a mix of black and beige interiors, but the fit and finish looks good and the soft-touch plastics are visually pleasant and feel good too. The dashboard is an elegant package of buttons and LCDs with a class-looking chrome and silver finish. It all looks seamless. Steering wheel is an all-matt black, and is nice and chunky to grip.

There are options of two engines – an all new 1.8-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel that's taken straight from the Verna. Both engines are quite refined at average three digit speeds and meaty enough to make the dash to 100 an easy task. The top end feels a bit blunt though and it is a task keeping it on a boil. On the upside, expect decent fuel efficiency figure.

Along with either you get the option of a six-speed auto or a six-speed manual gearbox. The manual is a quick shifter and a better bet if you like spirited driving. For a more lazy you, the auto works just fine. There is a sport mode for auto but it’s hardly enjoyable.

On the move the Elantra isn’t as sharp steering as the third-gen model but a very capable vehicle. Quick lane changing isn’t scary and the car is hardly perturbed by panic braking. It does have a touch of calming effect, like the new Sonata, at most moments.

All in all, the Elantra isn’t the car with one brilliant move. Instead it thrives on taking the safer route and offering you a package that involves good bits of everything. Which for most practical purposes may not be wow, but works.

Tags: elantra, hyundai