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Driven: Hyundai launches all-new Elantra

Booted up: The new Elantra is the latest Hyundai to adopt the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language.

Local engineering boosts latest Hyundai Elantra but overseas demand to clip sales

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Hyundai logo26 Feb 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

HYUNDAI’S sixth-generation Elantra sedan has arrived on Australian shores with a trimmed-down line-up and new powertrains, but expected supply constraints could hamper its sales this year.

The popularity of the Elantra in other markets could hinder its growth in Australia, according to Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) chief operating officer Scott Grant.

“We expect that this year we will be supply limited,” he told journalists at the Elantra media launch in Tasmania this week. “We don’t really have a firm plan at the moment. It’s in its early stages. They sell in excess of 220,000 to 250,000 Elantras in the US. It’s considerable in Korea as well.

“So in year one we expect the car will be quite popular we think, but how many we can get to I am not quite sure. We have about 1000 right now on launch stock where we go from there I am not sure.”

Mr Grant said he did not think the Elantra could match or exceed its record 2015 haul of 8346 sales, based on the compact sedan’s early global demand.

“I don’t think so, no. It is launching right now all over the globe. We expect the car to be in demand. There are quite a lot of pre-sales, particularly in the United States.” The new Elantra will be offered in two specifications – base Active and mid-spec Elite – while the previous range-topping Platinum has been dropped.

It will, however, get a flagship SR variant later this year, powered by Hyundai’s 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (see separate story).

A new 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Nu’ naturally aspirated petrol engine delivering 112kW/192Nm replaces the previous 110kW/178Nm 1.8-litre MPi unit, matched with either a six-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission in the Active, or just the auto in the Elite.

HMCA says just 15 per cent of sales are expected to swing to the manual, with the Active capturing 70 per cent of all Elantra sales.

Pricing has marginally increased for the entry Active, which is offered from $21,490 plus on-road costs in manual guise, or $23,790 for the auto, representing a $500 lift over the outgoing model.

The Elite starts at $26,490, which is a $400 drop compared with the old model.

Metallic paint is a $495 option but there is only one non-metallic colour available.

As with most recent Hyundais, the Elantra has benefited from intensive ride and handling testing and tuning conducted in Australia.

“Our aim with the car was to develop exceptional ride comfort first and foremost, and we tested across every road surface we could find,” said HMCA senior manager product planning Andrew Tuitahi.

“Damper testing alone was a month-long process involving short-test urban loops with potholes, speed bumps and other everyday driving challenges. We also carried out extensive testing on twisty mountain roads, often involving mid-corner bumps, course-chip routes, freeway and highway work, and on country roads, including gravel roads.”

The company says the chassis development team conducted 48 drive tests as it analysed 15 different sets of front dampers and 34 sets of rear dampers, the results of which were processed by motorsport suspension guru David Potter.

The latest-generation Elantra has a new suspension design, with the front strut including a new subframe with improved geometry for better noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

New bushings on the front subframe and bigger bushes on the lower control arm also help NVH, according to HMCA.

At the rear is a redesigned torsion beam set-up with upright, longer dampers – compared with the previous model’s diagonally mounted dampers – and repositioned coil springs.

Hyundai says the Elantra chassis is made from 53 per cent ultra-high-tensile steel – up from 21 per cent on the outgoing model – ensuring 29.5 per cent stiffer torsional rigidity and 25.3 per cent better bending strength.

Interestingly, the larger engine has meant an increase in official fuel consumption, up from 6.6 litres per 100km in manual guise to 7.1L/10km, while the auto lifts from 7.1L/100km to 7.2L/100km.

The new model is 20mm longer, 25mm wider and 5mm taller than the model it replaces, but the 2700mm wheelbase carries over despite it being a completely new chassis.

Boot space, however, has dropped from 485 litres to 458L – a consequence of the rear suspension changes – but it can still swallow 50 litres more than the Mazda3 sedan.

As we reported when the new model was revealed last September, the Elantra now carries the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language, falling into line with its Tucson, Santa Fe, i30 and Genesis stablemates.

The Elantra is yet to be tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program HMCA says it will undergo testing in the second quarter of the year.

In terms of safety gear, the Elantra is fitted standard with six airbags, ESC, ABS, brake assist, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, LED daytime running lights and automatic dusk-sensing headlights.

Autonomous emergency braking is, according to HMCA, not yet available on right-hand-drive production models, but the company is hoping to introduce the safety technology down the track.

Other standard equipment includes front foglights, 7.0-inch touchscreen with a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay connectivity (Andriod Auto is coming in the third quarter), MP3, auxiliary and USB jacks, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, power windows, cloth trim, manual air-conditioning and 16-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare.

Stepping up from Active to Elite adds LED tail-lights, chrome-trimmed grille and chrome belt-line moulding, electric-folding exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Proximity Smart Key with automatic boot-opening function, push-button start, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, a cargo net, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, leather-appointed interior, ‘premium’ gearknob and steering wheel, rear seat air vents, 3.5-inch TFT LCD display, illuminated front doorhandles and sun-visors and 17-inch alloys.

2016 Hyundai Elantra pricing*
Active$21,490
Active (a)$23,790
Elite (a)$26,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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