Car reviews - Hyundai - Lantra - 5-dr wagon
18 Jun 2003
HYUNDAI'S first truly competitive car was the J1 Lantra, released locally in 1991. It debuted the company's first big step away from relying on discarded Mitsubishi technology, using its first in-house four-cylinder engine. But it was the J2 of 1995 that really put Hyundai on a near-equal footing with other small cars, with its fashionably styled sedan and (from early '96) wagon body styles clothing a Porsche-honed front-wheel drive platform. There were problem areas though, mainly concerning the durability of the popular four-speed automatic transmission. And although the J2 dated quickly with the advent of excellent rivals from Mazda (1998 BJ 323) and Holden (1998 TS Astra), the wagon carved a niche for itself by virtue of being pleasantly styled and - ageing CC Lancer wagon apart - fairly unique in the small car class. The improved XD Elantra that replaced the J2 Lantra from October '00 dispensed with the wagon for a five-door hatchback, which ironically was the sole body style of the first-generation Lantra. By the way, Mitsubishi's trademark on the similarly-sounding "Elante" name (used briefly on a forgotten sporty model TP Magna in the late 1980s) forced Hyundai to drop the E from Elantra until the XD model arrived...
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