Fit and finish is next to faultless for the price, but we did find a few hard plastics on the steering and a few switches that felt out of place
Now that the Sonata is out of the picture, the Elantra takes charge as the flagship sedan for Hyundai. However, it slugs it out in a segment that has been taken over by butch SUVs and luxo-MPVs.
With the new iteration, the brief to the developers seems to be simple - push the envelope even further to leave the new opposition behind.
The design is an evolution of the outgoing version, with the flowing creases and curves being traded in for subdued straight lines. The Fluidic design language has matured with time, and it wouldn't be wrong to say that the Elantra now looks European.
It does have trademark Hyundai touches, such as the large chrome hexagonal grille, a sharp (and high-set) shoulder line and three-piece LEDs on the taillamps.
We like the finer aspects of the design too, such as the aggressive daytime running lamps, the boomerang-shaped foglamp housing that functions as an air vent and the subtle lip on the boot.
That said, we would have loved to see a set of 17-inch wheels on the Elantra, instead of the existing, gunmetal-finished 16-inch ones. The small size and the slightly bland design doesn't do too much to complement the otherwise classy-looking exteriors.
A similar story follows on the inside, where Hyundai designers have traded in curves for straight lines. The waterfall centre console has been booted out for a clean upright dashboard, that, we must admit, looks much like its German contemporaries.
Fit and finish is next to faultless for the price, but we did find a few hard plastics on the steering and a few switches that felt out of place.
Other than that, the soft touch dashboard, leather upholstery and the plethora of gizmos make the cabin a good place to be in. And, since this is a Hyundai, there's plenty of kit on offer, too.
You get an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, paired with a six-speaker sound system by Arkamys.
Other notable features include dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a comprehensive MID and my personal favourite -- ventilated seats. Other than headroom at the rear, there's nothing to complain about in terms of space either.
There's ample shoulder room and knee room, and the soft cushioning makes for a comfortable cabin. There are plenty of thoughtful cubbyholes around the cabin, and the generous 458-litre boot will swallow the weekend luggage with ease.
And lest we forget, the Elantra gets a hands-free boot release as well. Simply walk towards the locked car with key in your pocket, wait near the boot and it will open in three seconds.
The big news, of course, is that the Elantra now gets a brand new petrol engine. The 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated motor develops 152PS of power, which is plenty if you aren't into performance.
While the numbers aren't too impressive on paper (especially when compared to the Octavia 1.8 TSi) we like how the engine delivers the grunt when needed.
The petrol motor is available with a six-speed manual, as well as a six-speed torque converter automatic. We sampled the automatic, which we think complements the bigger motor nicely.
Power delivery is extremely linear, with plenty of punch in the mid-range. However, post 4500rpm, the torque tapers off sharply. In case you want to have fun with the Elantra, you will have to keep the motor on the boil.
While this is fairly straightforward in the manual variant, you tend to miss the paddle shifters on the automatic. The engine itself is ridiculously quiet and barely makes itself vocal. It does treat you to a nice raspy note when you push it hard, but the exhaust continues to be dead silent.
The diesel motor, on the other hand, feels exactly the same as the one in the outgoing version. The only difference has to be in the NVH department.
The new generation is noticeably quieter on the move compared to its predecessor, for which Hyundai credits the new high steel structure and the usage of adhesives. On the move, wind noise is well controlled and there is very little road noise that filters into the cabin as well. Sadly, the eco-spec Hankook tyres do very little to contain tyre noise.
The suspension is set up on the softer side which translates into a plush low-speed ride. But, Hyundai has tinkered with the springs to ensure that the Elantra does not feel 'floaty' when the speeds climb.
There is a fair bit of rebound if you go over an undulated patch, but the cabin settles fairly quickly unlike before. Steering is ultra-light like all Hyundais and weight builds up well too.
It still isn't in the league of the Germans, but does enough to inspire confidence at high speeds. Both engines get 'Eco' and 'Sport' mode, and have ARAI certified fuel-efficiencies rated at 14.62kmpl (Petrol/AT) and 18.23kmpl (Diesel/AT).
The Elantra comes across as a package that ticks the right boxes for a D-segment sedan. It is spacious, packed with goodies and has premium build inside out.
Drawbacks? Well, it isn't the most enthusiast friendly saloon out there, and most of the goodies are limited to the top-spec version. Pick the Hyundai if you need nothing, but a comfortable chauffeur driven car for the office trips.
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