The 2016 Hyundai Elantra was released in Australia in the first quarter of 2016. A sedan only throughout its history, and originally known as Lantra in Australia when first brought here, one of its design features continues into the 2016 Hyundai Elantra range. A Wheel Thing had a week getting to know the latest entrant, in Active spec.The recent freshen up brings to the Elantra Hyundai’s corporate face, with the stand alone hexagonal grille plus a pair of chin mounted spoilers with airvents to the front wheel wells but now also adds in, at the rear in the tail lights, the squared off oval inserts linking the long nosed, short tailed, Elantra, to the long nosed, short tailed, flagship Genesis. The bootlid has a slight upward sweep, effectively creating a spoiler in the design, noticeable when seen in profile. There’s redesigned headlights to complement the grille, including the now signature LED Daytime Running Lights or DRLs, in a sweeping, C shaped curve, on the outside on the cluster. Halogen driving lights are buried in each corner, inside the plastic for the air vents added.In profile, the previously mentioned long nose/short tail is what has become the design signature; in effect, it’s almost a coupe look and manages to make the Elantra look bigger than it is. At just 4570 mm in length it still manages to cram in an astounding 2700 mm wheelbase, maximising interior space. Leg room is quoted as 1073 mm front and 976 mm rear, with 1427 mm and 1405 mm shoulder room, as a result.Under the bonnet is a a frighteningly lacklustre 2.0 litre petrol engine. There’s a frankly pathetic 112 kW and 192 torques, with the latter achieved at 4000 revs and covering a range of just 500 rpm, from 3500. This here is the Elantra’s biggest failing, with the sole saving grace (performance wise) being the fuel economy for the highway. A Wheel Thing brimmed the tank before an overnight run to Canberra and back, with a best figure of just 5.9L per 100 kilometres consumed. Tank size? 50 litres. And it’s one of those that narrows at the bottom so the range drops quicker as fuel is consumed, once you reach 1/4 of a tank. Hyundai quotes 5.6L on the highway cycle, 9.8L for the urban and 7.1L combined for the manual, with the auto seeing 5.5L, 10.1L and 7.2L. Given the majority of sales would be for people living in the city, that urban figure would potentially see sub 500 kilometres per tank…
The trip to Canberra was undertaken with mostly cruise control engaged, specifically to see how the economy would work. At 110 kmh indicated, the rev counter hovered around 2000 or so. It also exposed flaws with the cruise control’s program, as it turned out. A certain speed was selected yet somehow the Elantra had issues with adhering to that, with variances of over five kmh and on the side of the “Excuse me sir, why were you speeding?”, most noticeably climbing and descending the slopes the highway has.
It would also hold a gear, around third or fourth, for too long, with revs around the 3500 mark being the norm. A prod of the go pedal was required in order to get the transmission to move back or forth. Using paddle shifts in the Active was out of the question, as the Active doesn’t have them fitted.Cabin wise, the Active lacks pop, fizzle, a reason to draw eyeballs. Some of the layout and switch gear looks as if it’s been lifted from Kia’s Optima of three years ago. The centre stack, holding the seven inch touchscreen, (with apps including Apple CarPlay, with Android’s version due later in 2016) has a faint hint of bronze or gold in the aluminuim surround, whilst the switchgear has a satin finish. Ergonomics are a hightlight, with clear placement and lettering. The radio lacks RDS and also looks dated with a radio dial image when listening to AM/FM. There are Auxiliary inputs, however.The steering wheel is lever operated for reach and tilt, the seats are manually operated and to get a comfortable driving position means ducking the head when using the sun visor, thanks to the steeply raked front screen. The seats themselves are comfortable enough, with a plain charcoal cloth trim in the Active and enough hip bolstering for most. There’s two cup holders in the centra console and a bottle holder in each door. There’s also a sizeable cargo space, hidden by the Elantra’s couple styling, of 458 litres. That’s getting towards large car territory and can be increased (with that 458 litres actually a tad smaller than the outgoing model due to the revised rear suspension) thanks to the 60/40 split fold rear seats. Oddly, the Active’s boot can NOT be accessed without either the key fob or a cabin switch, as there’s no opening button on the exterior at all.The plastics are hard to the touch, with enough of a print variance to break up the styling. The driver sees a plain, simple, pair of dials for speed and revs, with a monochrome info screen bisecting them, showing range, consumption and distance covered.
What the Elantra does have is a very good ride. Again, Hyundai Australia and Hyundai Korea have worked solidly in providing a ride quality that is well and truly in there for class leading. Something like 50 different combinations were trialled, front and rear, for damper and springs, and it shows. A good test is finding an undulating road and seeing how quickly the rebound is damped out.
It’s sometimes a bit soft but that may have been the tyre pressure and yes, the rear did feel as if it hit the bump stops sometimes (with two in the rear seats and some luggage) however it’s a sweet, comfortable, very controlled and controllable ride. Effectively, there’s more poise than a driver in its target market will ever need to exploit.
Handling was very good, predictable, with understeer easily sorted by a prod of the go pedal to plant the nose and bring the Elantra back to a neutral line. There’s good weight to the steering and the nose tracks truly on variable road surfaces, again due to the well sorted suspension. Being in the small car class, the Elantra Active is shod appropriately, with 205/55/16 rubber From Hankook. There’s plenty of grip and pushed hard into very tight turns, there’s barely a squeal and no sensation of the running wide until the accelerator gets pushed harder. What was noticeable was the appreciable road noise on the coarse chip sections on the Hume, loud enough to overcome the audio and conversation levels. You’ll get lifetime capped servicing costs, unlimited kilometre warranty (or five years), a year’s worth of complimentary road side assist and a free firsts ervice at 1500 kilometres. You’ll also get the basics in regards to electronic safety, such as Traction Control, Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and four rear parking sensors plus there’s, surprisingly at this level, auto headlights.
At The End Of The Drive.
There’s word already of Hyundai adding the turbo engine to the range, for an Elantra SR. It needs it. Torque is what gets a car going and gets called upon for uphill runs; the Elantra desperately needs more torque. A larger fuel tank, even by ten litres, would go a long way to adding some peace of mind on the consumption stakes. In Active trim, it’s a staid, but functional interior and doesn’t really add anything to excite the eyes. Hyundai need to move with the others, audio wise, and add RDS to their head units plus redesign the screen look as well.
The cruise control issue was wholly unexpected and luckily not shown in the presence of police, not that there were many to be seen on the freeway between Sydney and Canberra for a long weekend holiday. The ride and handling, however, ease the pain, with A Wheel Thing feeling only barely tired from the three hours between Sydney and Canberra.
What you will get is possibly the best handling car in its class for the Australian market. There’s the Corolla, Mazda 3, Focus and Jetta to consider, but it’s a firm bet the Elantra will more than hold its own against them, and the others in the class.
Price wise you’re looking at just under $24K for the Active auto (a $2300 premium over the manual) plus on roads. It makes the Active good if not outstanding value BUT you do get a great handling and pretty looking car. Here’s the link for you to check out: 2016 Hyundai Elantra