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Hyundai harks back to glory years with new Elantra

2017-06-14 09:41

2017 ELANTRA: Hyundai tapped into its 'fluidic design' philosophy for the styling of its next-gen Elantra. Image: Supplied

Alan Rosenmeyer

Pretoria - Hyundai's local journey in South Africa in the 1990s with the launch of its Elantra and the model has been a mainstay during its growth in the country.  

It’s crowning glory was being named SA Car of the Year in 2012. To prove the marketing value of this accolade, Hyundai sold more than 6000 Elantra’s during that year; this out of a total of 12 000 sales during its lifespan from launch in 2011 until mid-2017.

READ: Hyundai's new Elantra arrives in SA: Prices, specs and rivals 

Building on your past success can contribute to even greater performance in the future. Enter a cold Highveld morning and an early drive to meet at the very upmarket Ebotse Golf Estate in Benoni - a cold start to what turned into a pretty hot day. 

Given the current depressed state of the SA new car market, it’s a pretty brave move to introduce a new model range and then Hyundai surprised us with another bonus - the new Tucson Sport - which I'll discuss later in this article.

New Elantra Range

Following current trends, the new Elantra retains styling cues from its predecessor. 

The range kicks off with a 1.6-litre in either six-speed manual or automatic. Next up is the 2.0-litre in six-speed Auto only and then the range is topped by the halo model dubbed the Sport.

This model is endowed with Hyundai’s proven 1.6GDi turbo engine kicking out a mighty 150kW/265Nm. Added to the mix is Hyundai’s 7-speed DCT (dual clutch) gearbox, including flappy paddles for manual override.

On the road

I jumped straight into a gleaming white car. The new styling, enhanced by the special extra features of the Sport, certainly looks classy and assertive. Small trim details such as red trim line in the headlights with Daytime running lights (DRL) below work well.  

At the rear, its new sporty focus is demonstrated by twin exhausts. Stepping inside, the first item that literally grabs your eyes is the red leather upholstery. As a very personal aside, could I please have my car in a more sedate colour?

Aside from the trim colour, the remainder of the interior is very well put together and includes items such as the large touchscreen with navigation, climate control and the aforementioned flappy paddles.

Onto the road and heading in the direction of Red Star Raceway, I was immediately struck by the relaxed cruising nature of the car. Was it a bit too relaxed, I thought it had 150kW under the bonnet? A bit of looking around revealed a button on the centre console marked “Drive Mode”. Two quick prods through Eco mode engaged Sport mode and immediately rewarded with a swift kick up the rear end.  

This was much more like it and the rest of the drive to Red Star was very quickly dispatched while still showing me that we were only consuming 6.3-litres/100km for the ride.

On the track

Once we had reached Red Star, it was time for a bit of track action. Sport mode engaged and onto the track. Without going too wild, I completed a number of laps and this also gave us the opportunity to really enjoy the power, the paddle overrides and the general handling and braking.

The Elantra Sport came out shining and immediately showed the benefit of that extra power that it’s been given.   

Extra bonus

The next-gen Elantra coincides with the arrival of a new Tucson derivative. The new Tucson, launched in 2016, has been a great sales success and is a clear market leader in terms of sales.  So, why not add to that success?  

Here comes the Hyundai Tucson Sport....

READ: Pimped-out Hyundai: New Tucson Sport in SA

Equipped with the same 150kW 1.6 Turbo, but this time with a 6-speed manual box to stir things along. On the exterior a very aggressive body kit, large black alloy wheels and four (yes four) exhaust pipes identify that this is the new halo model.

Inside, it's fitted with a leather-interior with electric adjustment, touchscreen with navigation plus all the rest from the previous top versions of the Tucson. Only available in manual guise, there's no multi-mode transmission but you do get a button to alter the steering mode and loading.


On the road back to Ebotse, the Tucson Sport showed it’s prowess as well as the only weakness that I found in the Korean automaker's recipe; it's fitted with a free-flowing sports exhaust system to the vehicle and there was a very distinct exhaust “boom” when cruising at high-speeds (120km).  

Perhaps the issue is confined to the test unit but I would suggest that potential buyers check this out if their main usage will be on the freeway.

Pricing

Elantra 1.6 Executive Manual - R299 900
Elantra 1.6 Executive Automatic - R314 900
Elantra 2.0 Elite Automatic - R349 900
Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport - R399 900

Tucson 1.6 TGDI Sport - R499 900

As always the new vehicles are covered by Hyundai’s market leading 7-Year or 200 000km drivetrain warranty plus a 5 year or 90 000km service plan.

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