2014 HYUNDAI ELANTRA REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Price: $30,190 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 110kw/178Nm 4cyl petrol | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.1 l/100km | tested: 8.0 l/100km
Kudos to any company that listens to, and acts on, customer feedback. Hyundai has done just that with its updated Series 2 Elantra.
On the surface the limited styling changes are subtle enough to fly under the radar. Dig a little deeper though and the changes to handling and functions are a significant leap forward.
Hyundai’s small sedan has a big fight on its hands too: Mazda and Toyota have both whipped the covers off their new small sedans - and they’re both good cars.
So to find out if the refreshed Elantra is still in with a chance, we put the new range-topping Premium model through TMR boot-camp for a week.
Quality: One of the headline changes to the interior takes the low centre-vents on the dash and makes them bigger and higher - an absolute boon for surviving hot Aussie summers.
There have also been minor changes to switchgear and finishes.
Otherwise the basic layout and materials stay the same, but that’s no bad thing - there’s a solid feel to the interior and enough soft-touch surfaces for a sense of quality (and our time in the car was completely rattle-free).
Comfort: Hyundai has been generous with interior space, particularly for rear-seat occupants. The swooping roof can eat into headroom and requires a heads-down stance for getting in and out.
A powered driver’s seat is a nice surprise at this end of the market and makes setting up at the helm a cinch.
The front seats do feel a little small though, and we couldn’t ever get quite enough under-thigh support.
Equipment: Standard features on the Elantra range include steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, rear park sensors, front foglamps, power windows, remote central-locking, six-speaker audio and a basic trip-computer.
The Premium adds a powered sunroof, leather trim with powered driver’s seat and front seat heaters, dual zone climate control, proximity key with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing Xenon headlights.
Navigation is also provided via a clear and easy-to-use seven-inch touchscreen while 17-inch alloy wheels and a dark chrome grille take care of visual enhancement.
Storage: Long door-bins, a lidded bin at the base of the centre stack, a compact centre console and generous glovebox offer plenty of storage solutions.
The Elantra’s boot measures 420 litres and is well proportioned, with a full-sized spare under the floor. The split rear seat folds from within the boot, seats lie flat but don’t leave a level floor.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Elantra soldiers on with the same 1.8 litre multi-point injected four-cylinder as before. For those keeping score this is the same engine as used in the Kia Cerato S.
While they’re reasonable outputs for the class, the lack of a turbo or direct injection can leave the mid-range feeling a little light on.
No problem moving from standstill though, the Elantra’s conventional six-speed auto (no dual-clutch or CVT here) has things quickly and smoothly springing into motion.
The transmission is also quick to kickdown, often a little too eagerly with just a light push on the accelerator or a shallow incline enough to send the box down a ratio. A little unnecessary we felt.
On the open road though the Elantra feels particularly competent. There’s always enough in reserve should you need it, and a hearty shove of the accelerator will extract reasonably brisk overtaking urge should the need arise.
The turning circle is tight, great for narrow areas, but the reversing camera is essential with fairly poor over-shoulder and rearward vision.
Refinement: In most situations the Elantra is smooth, calm, and quiet.
The eager kickdown response, while perfectly smooth, can send revs flaring. We found a few uphill stretches where the Elantra would constantly cycle up and down gears until the road levelled out (which was a bit annoying).
Wind and road noise are both well-managed though, making long distance stints a breeze.
Ride and Handling: Hyundai has given the Series 2 Elantra’s ride and handling a serious going-over, pounding it over Aussie roads to iron out the inconsistencies and hazy handling of the previous model.
The benefits of this program are immediately obvious. Any errant float or bounce from the suspension has been banished.
The result in improved road-holding and comfort is evident.
We found the slim sidewalls of the Premium’s 17-inch wheels could catch some sharp bumps but its a set-up that’s easy to live with.
Steering also moves to three-stage adjustable Flex-Steer, allowing the driver to change the weight of the electric power steering.
Normal mode still feels pretty light, Comfort mode is super-light, but we found the heavier Sport mode to provide the just-right feel (although my preference is for a weighty wheel).
Braking: With four-wheel disc brakes (vented up front) and a smooth, well graduated pedal, the Elantra pulls up well. We caught a little fade after repeated hard stops - but this is no rally car and fine for normal duties.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 33.21 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Safety features include dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, stability and traction control with ABS brakes, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.
Seats feature height adjustable front belts with pretensioners and all seats have adjustable head restraints and seatbelt reminders.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five year/unlimited kilometre
Service costs: Hyundai’s iCare capped price servicing program covers the first three years servicing with 12 month/15,000km intervals.
Each service is priced at $219, Hyundai also offers free navigation updates and an additional 12 months roadside assist to customers that complete the service schedule.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Toyota Corolla ZR ($30,990) - Like the Elantra and i30, the Corolla sedan doesn’t share it’s styling with its hatch counterpart. To that end, the sedan is a much larger car, freeing up extra space for families and their gear.
While there’s no wow-factor in the mechanical specification, the Corolla’s CVT is a very good unit, and uniquely for the class, the ZR comes standard with LED headlights. (see Corolla reviews)
Mazda3 SP25 GT ($32,590) - Mazda asks a little more for the SP25 GT (and also offers the SP25 Astina with added safety equipment). For the extra coin you get a larger engine with impressive fuel-saving tech, excellent interior and generous equipment.
On the road the SP25 feels more alive, with inviting handling and extra punch. Interior noise (though vastly improved) is just a touch louder than the Elantra, and rear seat space is a touch tighter. (see Mazda3 reviews)
Kia Cerato SLi ($29,990) - Hyundai’s smaller partner Kia has a newer offering with the Cerato, and it comes equipped with a more lively 2.0 litre direct-injected engine. It misses out on standard navigation (a $1000 option) though and some may find the interior a little bland.
Aside from navigation, the equipment list is strong (heated and cooled driver’s seat for instance) and, with a well sorted chassis and willing engine, the Cerato is quite a rewarding drive. (see Cerato reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
But it offers a good level of specification and a well-sorted ride, and continues to offer good (but not great) value.
The improved ride and handling bring it up to pace, the interior is useful and well-sized, and the nav system is simple to use.
It's not especially cheap, but as a simple answer to a simple question, the Elantra Premium fits the bill.
Small sedan shoppers searching for a well-equipped and smartly styled car, should certainly keep the Elantra in mind.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- Elantra Series II Active manual: $20,990
- Elantra Series II Active automatic: $23,190
- Elantra Series II Elite automatic: $26,790
- Elantra Series II Premium automatic: $30,190