In an era where most manufacturers seem to be driven to downsizing, Hyundai seems to be refreshingly defiant.
The last automotive decade is nothing if not a testament to the rising aspirational value of Hyundai in India. Armed with a portfolio of feature-rich and comfort-oriented cars, the Hyundai market share graph is unlikely to see a dip. In fact, save for a few models, Hyundai haven’t really had any major missteps in the Indian market. Perhaps the first Elantra wasn’t the most memorable car, but Hyundai rectified that by introducing the ‘fluidic’ fifth generation Elantra — suddenly rendered more likeable with a sharp-edged and proportionate form, loaded with enough tech to make it splendid to drive in the city.
It’s no surprise then that the 6th generation Elantra furthers the cause of its predecessor. It’s got a brand new look, and a brand new petrol engine that adds a lot of excitement to the mix. It’s quite a vision, this car, especially in that new shade of Marina blue. The whole design is a shade more sombre than the previous one, with narrower headlamps and a broader, fastback form that makes it look quite stately on the whole. The segment-blurring quality of the design is matched directly by that of the interiors which, as usual, carry a laundry list of features including (but not limited to) an automatic boot-release function, an electronic sunroof, a 10-way adjustable driver seat with ventilation, drive mode select and six airbags.
In an era where most manufacturers seem to be driven to downsizing, Hyundai seems to be refreshingly defiant. So much so that they have given the Elantra a bigger, 2-litre petrol engine, discarding the old 1.8-litre motor. The four pot unit is normally-aspirated, with 150 bhp of power and 20 kgm of torque. Now, Hyundai aren’t really known for making lithe, power- hungry sedans, but there’s a certain levity with which the Elantra takes off, and you just know it’s a feisty motor.
Striking looks; feature- rich for a sub-20 lakh car; comfort
Not quite a driver’s car yet; top-end biased feature list
That isn’t to say that the plot deviates from Hyundai’s core tenet of making easy-to-drive sedans with the serenity quotient of a zen garden. That might be overstating things, but the cabin is a very comfortable place to be in, and I reckon the seats play a large part in this because the ones found in German sedans tend to be a bit stiff, making long-distance journeys rather cumbersome. There’s the usual mix of leather-wrapped steering, with a large, SatNav equipped touch-screen interface beside it. It’s a wide, spacious and symmetrical cockpit offering great visibility at the front and back.
Although, on paper, the car is supposed to make peak power at 6000 rpm, power tends to taper off by the 5000 rpm mark. That said, the six speeds offered on the manual (and the automatic) are perfectly suited for long distance driving. Once again, it’s the ride quality that shines through. The previous model’s settings were a tad too soft and as a result the car possessed slightly wayward cornering mannerisms. This isn’t really an issue during city driving, but it’s a trademark feature that has caused many an enthusiast to look upon the Elantra with a jaundiced eye. Clearly Hyundai decided to look into the matter and as a result, the car’s handling feels comparatively sharper and the chassis feels stiffer.
With a starting price of Rs 12.99 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi), the Elantra seems competitively priced. While a lot of the special features are only available in the top-of-the- line automatic variant, a lot of the really cool features (like the key-detecting, boot release function) find their way into lower variants, and this gives the Elantra the kind of broad appeal that fast-selling sedans are made of. It’s another tick mark against Hyundai’s name with this one.