Hyundai started the year with the launch of the new Santa Fe SUV at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show which was followed by the February debut of the Entourage MPV at the Chicago Auto Show and now the 2007 Elantra compact.
Developed under the HD project codename and built at the company's Ulsan plant, the Elantra is all-new from headlight to taillight to bring more refinement, safety and interior space to compact car shoppers.
Hyundai says the new Elantra delivers more interior space than either of its two main opponents, the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, and a level of ride and handling refinement that's both agile and comfortable.
Added to that are great standard safety features such as six airbags, anti-lock brakes and active front head restraints, and Hyundai's new design.
The Elantra has an assertive front appearance, rising belt line, sculpted body side and an overall lively appearance.
For a more upscale appearance, chrome headlight bezels and grille bars highlight Elantra's front end.
The side view sees a strong character line that has a family resemblance to the recently introduced Azera and a clean look with body-colour door handles and mirrors.
The rear styling compliments the front design with tail lamps echoing the theme of the headlamps, and the cohesive look continues with a body-coloured rear number plate garnish and integrated bumper.
The latest Elantra is wider and taller than its predecessor.
Increasing the height 5.5 cm and moving the driver's seating position up 4.5 cm opens up the cabin for more room and flexibility, while 5 cm of added width deliver more front and rear shoulder room.
With 460 litres of boot space the Elantra has the most interior volume (passenger volume plus trunk space) for a sedan in its class
The interior sees a new dashboard which slopes downward to give a feeling of more space and greater visibility while offering an aesthetic shape.
The contrasting two-tone colour schemes (available in beige and grey tones) combined with metallic finishes match the more sophisticated and upscale exterior styling.
New levels of detail and craftsmanship are found throughout the interior, including leather upholstery, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, and telescoping steering adjustment.
Blue back lighting adds a refined ambience at night.
The centre console features a two-level storage compartment and a comfortable armrest. An overhead sunglasses holder has built-in map lights, and map pockets are integrated into the front door panels.
Seatback storage pockets provide additional room for small items.
Storage can also be found in the dash, centre stack and console. There's also a convenient handbag strap, dual front cupholders and an available rear armrest with cupholders.
The Elantra's seating includes a multi-adjustable driver's seat with height adjustment, adjustable head restraints and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback..
Conveniences include standard cabin air filter, rear window defroster, tilt steering wheel, tinted glass, two-speed variable intermittent windshield wiper with mist function, dual vanity mirrors, and power windows with driver's auto-down and illuminated switches.
The high-volume Elantra GLS Premium Package offers a 172-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and Hyundai's first auxiliary jack, which allows iPods and other portable MP3 players to be connected to the vehicle audio system.
Long feature list
Also included are air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights, windscreen shade band, rear centre armrest with cup holders, power heated mirrors, power locks, and remote keyless entry with boot open, panic alert, and alarm.
All Elantra models have six standard airbags, including two advanced front airbags, two front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and two side curtain airbags protecting front- and rear-seat outboard passengers.
The new Elantra has an all-new chassis featuring fully independent suspension, front and rear stabiliser bars and powered rack-and-pinion steering.
The braking system has front and rear discs with a four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) that includes Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).
All seating positions feature three-point seatbelts and adjustable head restraints.
In low-speed impacts the Elantra's 8 km/h front and rear bumpers help minimise damage
Choice of engines
The Elantra comes with a choice of power plants, two petrol and one diesel, all featuring dual overhead camshafts, hydraulic mounts to minimise vibrations, and it's capable of meeting the most stringent environmental standards.
Economy-minded drivers will opt for the 1.6-litre Gamma which features an all-aluminium block, displaces 1 591cc and features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT).
The Gamma achieves Euro-III emission compliancy while delivering 91 kW at 6 200 rpm.
There's also the advanced 2-litre Beta engine. This sophisticated 16-valve unitemploys an aluminium DOHC cylinder head with CVVT.
It has a displacement of 1 975 cc with maximum output of 107 kW at 6 000 r/min.
For markets outside North America and Europe the new Elantra comes with the U Diesel engine.
Displacing 1 582 cc, it's equipped with a common rail direct injection system, DOHC with hydraulic valve lash adjusters and a variable geometry turbo-charging system with intercooling.
Maximum power is 86 kW at 4 000 r/min.
The Elantra comes standard with a five-speed manual gearbox.
There's also an electronically-governed four-speed automatic with an overdrive lock-up torque converter.