2011 HYUNDAI ELANTRA REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.1 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.8 l/100km
Hyundai's all-new 2011 Elantra is its newest entrant into the highly competitive small car segment. And, as we discovered, it is more than just a sedan version of the successful i30 hatch.
Refinement, handling and interior quality have risen markedly. Its dimensions have also grown - the 2011 Elantra is now one of the largest small cars in the segment.
Priced at $28,990 before on-roads, the Elantra Premium brings a long feature list for the money, and a luxurious ambience that apes that of its larger brother, the i45.
Quality: Soft touch dash plastics, matte-silver trim highlights and perforated leather trim on the seats and door trims gives the Elantra one of the more sophisticated interiors in its segment. A cardboard-like headliner is the only shortcoming.
Build quality is generally quite good, however we heard the occasional buzz from the A-pillar trims when driving over rough roads.
Comfort: The front seats provide good support and comfort, and the Premium also benefits from an electric driver's seat.
A tilt and reach-adjustable steering column is standard, and a multi-function wheel with controls for audio, Bluetooth, cruise and trip computer improves ergonomics.
The central air outlets are placed too low in the centre stack however, with the driver's vent exhausting most of its air into the back of the steering wheel.
The outboard rear seats are deeply sculpted, and give exceptional lateral support. The Elantra's generous back seat legroom though is countered by the sloping roofline - headroom can be quite tight for taller passengers.
Equipment: Standard features on the Elantra Premium include Bluetooth, cruise control, a trip computer, climate control, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, fog lamps, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, proximity key and push-button starter, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, auto-dimming rear view mirror, sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Storage: Numerous nooks, crannies and bins are dotted throughout the Elantra’s cabin, and even back seat passengers get decently-sized door bins.
The Elantra’s boot can swallow up to 420 litres of luggage, and its dimensions are generous. The 60/40 split rear seatbacks fold down to increase carrying capacity, but don’t fold flush with the boot floor.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Elantra’s 1.8 litre inline four is an all-new design and the first in the “Nu” engine family.
Power peaks at 110kW while maximum torque of 178Nm is available from 4800rpm. It needs lots of revs to properly perform, but is certainly quick enough in normal driving.
On the highway, it has enough torque to maintain momentum without dropping down a gear on gentle hills, but would work harder with a family on board.
The top-of-the-line Elantra Premium comes with a six-speed automatic as standard, which is a significant step up from the four-speed that equipped the old Elantra.
Lighter and with less mechanical complexity than the old auto, the new six-speed has a spread of ratios that matches the engine’s performance well.
On the mountainous test route we drove, the gearbox was kept busy shifting up and down, but the shift program was intelligent enough to anticipate gradients and kick down a gear. On more level ground, the auto performed virtually faultlessly.
Refinement: The low-profile Hankook rubber worn by the Premium’s 17-inch wheels transmit a great deal of road noise into the cabin, particularly on coarse-chip asphalt.
The engine is also loud and buzzy when operating above 4000rpm, but at more relaxed engine speeds is quiet and vibration-free.
Suspension: Hyundai has invested a lot of effort in the localisation of the Elantra’s suspension and steering hardware.
The result being unique (to Australia) front spring and stabiliser bar rates, unique front and rear damper tunes and an Australia-specific electric power-steering calibration.
The result is a ride that is buttoned-down and very grippy, but also very firm. The Premium’s low-profile tyres exacerbate the stiffness of the suspension, and on poorly maintained roads things can be a little jarring.
Roadholding is excellent though. The Premium wears stickier tyres than the Active and Elite, and it takes a lot of effort to push through the grip threshold into understeer.
The power steering is very light and carpark-friendly with a 10.6m turning circle and 2.9 turns lock-to-lock, but there is not a lot of feedback.
Braking: The brake pedal is firm and responsive and, with all-disc hardware, provides good stopping power.
ANCAP rating: Five stars
Safety features: Six airbags, including front, front side and full-length curtain airbags, help protect occupants from injury. Each seat is equipped with three-point seatbelts, with the front two also fitted with pretensioners and load limiters.
Stability control, traction contral, ABS, EBD and brake assist are all integrated under Hyundai’s standard Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Service costs vary, consult your local dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Holden Cruze SRi-V automatic ($29,990) - The Elantra’s interior outclasses the Cruze for both fit and finish, but the SRi-V’s standard sat-nav is a major trump card.
The SRi-V’s 1.4 litre turbo engine produces more torque (200Nm) than the Elantra, and the Cruze feels zippier as a result. The Elantra’s six-speed auto is a nicer unit than the Cruze’s but both are about line-ball for refinement. (see Cruze reviews)
Mazda3 Maxx Sport sedan automatic ($28,360) - With slightly more torque and a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, the Mazda3 Maxx feels sportier than the Elantra. There’s a less spacious interior though. (see Mazda3 reviews)
Toyota Corolla Conquest sedan automatic ($26,490) - The Toyota may have a price advantage, but a lacklustre interior and relatively sparse spec list penalise it.
Its four-speed auto is dated, and its 100kW/175Nm 1.8 litre four is also nothing special. (see Corolla reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The arrival of the new Elantra is further proof that Hyundai has come of age. It’s a polished product whose foibles are few, and deserves to steal sales from the more established players in the small sedan segment.
Ride comfort aside, it’s an enjoyable car to drive and Hyundai’s efforts to tune the Elantra to local tastes has produced a car with solid, predictable handling. The rest of its mechanical package also ups the ante in terms of refinement.
It’s not especially inexpensive, but the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is good buying.