Finally, some elan

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 06, 2012 19:10 hrs

About a decade ago, Hyundai made its mark in the entry D-segment with the Elantra, the only real competitor to the Skoda Octavia back then. Offered with a 1.8-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel option, the Elantra had a lot going for itself — decent performance, good space, fairly reasonable dynamics and a good price tag. But Hyundai didn’t somehow enjoy the brand pull that Toyota and Honda enjoyed, while the car was not appealing in the looks department either. So, when the Corolla first entered followed by the Civic, the Elantra floundered. Being good for the job somehow wasn’t enough and a few years later it disappeared from the radar.

Another generation of the Elantra came along, but it was never offered to our market, Hyundai still smarting from its experience. But come 2012, the Koreans are ready to strike the market with the Elantra once again, this being an all-new car. Taking much of its cues from the ‘fluidic design’ concept, the Elantra looks a lot like its siblings, the Verna and Sonata, but it does have some of its own individualistic design cues. Stretched out headlamps, a more prominent kink on the C-pillar and some smart touches help it look a wee bit different, though it’s probably a design that could tire too soon. Longer than the Volkswagen Jetta but a touch shorter than the Corolla Altis, the Elantra has one of the longest wheelbases in its segment — 2,700 mm to be precise. That makes it just 3 mm shorter than the Renault Fluence, which is already quite comfortable to sit in.

On the inside, it gets a dual-tone finish, dual zone air-conditioning, cruise control, ventilated seats at the front, rear AC vents, rear seat audio controls, heated rear view mirrors, powered driver seat with lumbar support and a cooled glove box among others. Phew, that’s quite a list there!

Powering the Elantra are a pair of engine options — the 1.6-litre diesel motor that we are familiar with from the Verna and a 1.8-litre petrol engine that’s new to the Hyundai India lineup. The former produces an identical 126.2 bhp@4000 rpm, while the latter produces 147 bhp@6500 rpm of peak power. Both are offered with either a six-speed manual or an auto. While the diesel isn’t the most powerful around, it is definitely quite refined and the 26.5 kgm of peak torque should provide it with more than adequate performance. The petrol sounds healthy on paper and its 18.1 kgm should be sufficient for the cut and thrust of city driving.

Hyundai will launch the Elantra in the coming weeks and it will be assembled at its facilities in Chennai. A price tag of Rs 12-16 lakh should be what one can expect. Whether Hyundai is making a smart move by entering a segment that seems to be shrinking nowadays will be something for the market to answer. On first glance though, the Elantra seems to have a lot going for it. Do check for our driving impression and more pictures.

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