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Car reviews - Hyundai - Elantra - sedan range

Launch Story

Hyundai logo25 Aug 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

HYUNDAI has ramped up its affordable safety campaign yet another notch this week with the release of a redesigned Elantra sedan, which combines high levels of safety in a surprisingly stylish, roomy and keenly priced small-medium four-door.

Available in four grades priced from $19,990, Hyundai says the fourth-generation Elantra is the nation’s second most affordable five-seat model to be available with stability control – after the South Korean maker’s own Getz 1.6 hatch, which is priced at $16,280 including the ESP-containing Protectz Pack.

On the entry-level Elantra SX, the Protectz Pack costs $1790 and includes ESP stability control, TCS traction control, two front seat-mounted side-impact thorax airbags and two full-length side curtain airbags, bringing the price of the five-speed manual SX with Protectz Pack to $21,780. A four-speed automatic transmission adds $2000 ($21,990, or $23,780 with Protectz).

In addition to the base variant’s twin front airbags, standard Elantra SX features include ABS, pollen-filtering air-conditioning, power windows/mirrors, remote central locking with alarm, driver’s seat height adjustment, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, “deluxe” centre console with armrest and bi-level concealed compartments, a four-speaker iPod/MP3/WMA/AAC-compatible CD/FM/AM sound system, key-out headlights-off, a day/night rear-view mirror, tail-light-integrated foglights, speed-sensing auto door locks, active four-way adjustable front head restraints, front seatbelt pretensioners and load-limiters, and 15 x 5.5-inch steel wheels with seven-spoke plastic trims and 185/65 R15 tyres.

Significantly, the SX’s optional front side and side curtain airbags are standard on all other variants, including the next-up SLX, which is priced at $22,490 ($24,490 auto). ESP and TCS are contained in a $990 Protectz Pack for the SLX, bringing its price to $23,480 ($25,480 auto).

Apart from front side and side curtain airbags, the SLX adds, as standard, cruise control, automatic climate control, heated door mirrors, an illuminated key hole, illuminated ashtray, illuminated vanity mirrors, a centre rear head restraint, twin tweeter speakers, ambient temperature display, alloy-look dash inserts and a leather-wrapped gearshifter and steering wheel, which also offers reach adjustment and cruise/audio controls.

Six airbags and stability/traction control is standard on all other Elantras, with the Elite adding 16 x 6.0-inch five-spoke alloys (with 205/55 R16 tyres), front fog lights, a trip computer, tinted glass, cloth door trim inserts and a boot luggage net for $24,990 ($26,990 auto).

The range-topping Elantra Elite S is an auto-only proposition that costs $28,990 and adds a power tilt/slide sunroof and perforated soft leather seat facings, door trims and armrests. Options across the range include 17-inch alloys and reverse parking sensors.

While a five-door hatch derivative is due for release next year, the sedan is claimed to be “substantially roomier” than Toyota’s aged Corolla and Honda’s new Civic. Compared to its predecessor, Elantra is 65mm higher (1490mm), 50mm wider (1775mm) and 20mm shorter ( 4505mm), while a 40mm-longer (2650mm) wheelbase and 58/66mm wider front/rear wheel tracks result in a wider footprint and, allegedly, improved stability and handling balance.

Hyundai claims the result is class-leading interior space thanks to front hip and shoulder room increases of 32mm (now 1377mm) and 22mm (1412mm) respectively, plus 9mm more front headroom (1015mm), 8mm more front legroom (1105mm) and a big 40mm of extra rear shoulder room (1400mm). Front seats are 35mm higher, while boot space increases by 35 litres to 405 litres – and is accessible via a 60/40-split folding rear seat.

The all-new front-drive chassis again features MacPherson front struts, but its independent “Torsion Blade” IRS is claimed to be more sophisticated than the current multi-link rear-end by featuring upper arms, a fourth link each side and blade-type longitudinal links “whose twist actions supplement the springs”.

Steering it all is a new electric rack-and-pinion steering system (Electric Assist Steering System) that’s both engine and road speed-sensitive, and offers a 10.34-metre turning circle and 3.13 turns lock-to-lock. Larger inner-vented 275mm front and solid 262mm rear brake discs are fitted, along with electronic brake-force distribution and four-channel ABS as standard.

Now meeting Euro IV emissions standards via recalibrated engine control module and constantly variable valve timing systems, Hyundai’s “Series 3” 2.0-litre CVVT Beta 16-valve DOHC transverse four-cylinder engine offers 105kW at 6000rpm and 186Nm of torque at 4600rpm.

On the ADR 81/01 cycle, Hyundai says it reduces fuel consumption by 1.3 litres per 100km (or 16.5 per cent) to 7.8L/100km in the auto, and by 0.7L/100km (or nine per cent) to 7.4L/100km in the manual. Lower final drive gearing sees 0-100km/h acceleration for the manual drop one-tenth to 8.9 seconds, alongside an improvement in response.

While the manual offers a relocated reverse gear (now beside first) selected via a lift-collar, the auto has a new stepped shift gate, revised calibration and a slimmer, lighter torque converter with a more efficient lock-up system to cut fuel consumption and offer smoother shifts. Kerb weight increases by around 50kg, ranging from 1285kg for the manual SX to 1320kg for the (auto) Elite S.

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