Johannesburg – It's been a long two years since we first saw Hyundai’s sixth generation Elantra unveiled at the LA Auto Show in 2015, but now the Jetta and Corolla-sized sedan is finally on sale in South Africa in all-new guise.
Launched in Johannesburg this week, the Elantra range has grown from two relatively basic derivatives in previous form, to four variants which include two more powerful engine choices. The bottom two Executive models – with either six-speed manual or autoboxes – come with the same naturally aspirated 1.6 petrol as before but slightly downtuned to 94kW and 154Nm (from 96 and 157) for improved fuel consumption. On that note, the manual returns a claimed average of 6.5 litres per 100km, and the auto is a bit thirstier at 6.9l/100km.
Next up is a 2-litre naturally aspirated petrol borrowed from the Tucson SUV range, with identical outputs of 115kW and 195Nm. This is the least economical option with 8.3l/100km claims, but offers the highest possible Elite spec level at a 50 grand saving over the flagship Elite Turbo.
The range-topping Elantra gets the same 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo as the Veloster coupe, mated to the same seven-speed dual-clutch paddle shifter. With a claimed 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds, this is certainly one of the quickest cars among direct competitors but you’ll have to pay for the privilege because it’s also one of the priciest in the class. Hyundai claims 7.9 litres per 100km in this model.
The base Executives are well stocked right out of the gate with hi-res colour touchscreens including navigation, Bluetooth phone pairing, aux and USB inputs, and six speakers. This 20.3cm display can also mirror smartphone screens via HDMI input, but a separate adapter will be required.
They’re also equipped with man-made leather seats, cruise control, six airbags, remote central locking, rear parking sensors and manual air conditioning, but upper Elites add rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, rear air vents, keyless start and electronic stability control (no ESC in Executives).
The top Turbo Elite also gets a different suspension configuration with a multi-link independent setup at the back axle, instead of the torsion beam type in all other models.
I drove the Elantra Turbo at the Joburg-based media launch, and it’s a peppy performer with a decent ride – though the roads travelled were mostly smooth highways so I can’t speak for how it feels on rougher surfaces. I also can’t speak for any versions with torsion beam suspension but I don’t suspect any major handling issues.
Interior quality is good but fairly predictable, as it seems Hyundai has relied on the same tried and trusted material choices as the previous model, but arranged with a slightly more modern style. In typical Hyundai fashion it’s all designed with simple layout and easy to use ergonomics, but with very little excitement.
We also applaud Hyundai for its more daring approach to exterior styling, but we can’t help but notice some obvious influence from Audi’s playbook – especially in the front grille section. Still, it’s a good looking car with plenty of panache to catch the eyes of buyers in the fairly bland Corolla and Jetta-sized sedan segment.
Elantra 1.6 Executive – R299 900
Elantra 1.6 Executive auto – R314 900
Elantra 2.0 Elite – R349 900
Elantra 1.6 Turbo Elite – R399 900
Prices include a five-year/150 000km warranty (plus an additional two-year/50 000km powertrain warranty) and a five-year/90 000km service plan.