Hyundai South Africa will introduce its new Elantra range in June 2017 as a rival to the facelifted Toyota Corolla (and others) in the compact family car segment. Over and above improvements in refinement, occupant comfort and safety, the range will include 1.6-litre turbopetrol derivatives.
If the Elantra is not Hyundai’s longest-serving model in South Africa, which it probably is, it certainly is the best-known sedan in the firm’s local history. The outgoing version has received many accolades during its model cycle and its successor, which we first believed would be introduced in the local market before the end of 2016, incorporates improvements in numerous areas. Following recent introductions of the new Honda CIvic and updated Corolla and Kia Cerato, the Elantra faces stiff competition from rival sedans, let alone a clutch of crossovers.
1. More dynamic stance, better aerodynamics
The new 6th-generation Elantra is 20 mm longer, 25 mm wider and 5 mm taller than its predecessor and, apart from the narrow, swept-back headlights with LED daytime running lights, the most notable elements to the front of the sedan are the front wheel “air curtains” at the outer ends of the bumper that are said to help channel airflow around the wheels to minimise turbulence and wind resistance.
In profile, sweeping character lines along the car’s flanks accentuate the sedan's dynamic stance and the newcomer’s claimed drag coefficient (0.27) can be attributed to strategically positioned underbody covers, a lower rear bumper spoiler and longer bootlid. Local derivatives should come with either 16- or 17-inch alloys.
In overseas markets, top-of-the-range Elantras feature chrome beltline moulding, auto-folding exterior mirrors, front door handle courtesy lights and LED rear combination lights in some markets, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll all feature on the cars in the South African market.
2. More spacious and driver-oriented interior
Given the increases in the Elantra’s exterior dimensions, it stands to reason that there’s more shoulder room (by 7 mm at the front, 12 mm at the back) and additional head- (up by 4 mm) and legroom (up by a significant 59 mm) at the rear.
The interior architecture shares many of its cues with the recently launched Tucson and to create a more driver-focused feel, the newcomer’s centre stack is angled towards the driver by and angle of 7 degrees.
Cabin ambience also has been enhanced via alloy-look air vent surrounds and metallic-painted dashboard/door trim inserts. Top of the range derivatives could also feature air-vent/radio/climate-control surrounds finished in high-gloss piano black, together with an ergonomic sliding front centre armrest.
Hyundai SA has confirmed that a touchscreen infotainment system with MP3 capability, auxiliary and USB input sockets will be offered on local derivatives. You can expect Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming and a multi-function steering wheel (with buttons for handsfree telephony, audio system and cruise control) to be provided too.
Automatically-activated headlights, a rear parking assist system with reverse-view camera are likely to feature, while the flagship models should be equipped with leather trim and dual-zone climate control (with an automatic windscreen defog function). An electronic self-dipping mirror, rain-sensing wipers, rear-seat cooling vents, keyless entry and start and a colour 3.5-inch information cluster (in the instrumentation cluster could all be included, depending on local specification.
3. Added body rigidity and better refinement
Through the greater use of advanced high-strength steel and aerospace-derived structural adhesives (at high stress points) in the construction of the Elantra’s body, Hyundai’s newcomer has significantly more torsional rigidity than its predecessor, which means there is more noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression, better occupant protection and enhanced vehicle dynamics.
Meanwhile, the front suspension has a new sub-frame with optimised geometry engineered to target improved NVH characteristics, while at the rear, the torsion-beam axle rear suspension features upright, longer dampers and repositioned coil springs. All of which should result in better ride refinement.
4. Extensive safety specification
Given that the Elantra is a family vehicle first and foremost, a comprehensive safety specification is a must. Again, the local market’s specification has yet to be confirmed, but 6 airbags (front-, side- and curtain units) should be standard, plus an electronic stability control (ESC) system, including hill-start assist (HAC), traction control (TCS), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), brake assist (BAS) and vehicle stability management (VSM).
5. 1.6-, 1.6- turbocharged and 2.0-litre petrol engines
Whereas the outgoing Elantra model featured workmanlike 1.6- and 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) four cylinder engines, the newcomer’s engine line-up will closely resemble that of the new Tucson range, with the exception of the entry-level powerplant, which produces outputs of 96 kW/157 N.m in the current range.
The other derivatives, will be powered by either a 2.0-litre Nu MPi 4-cylinder petrol engine (featuring dual continuously variable valve timing and a 2-step variable induction system) that produces 115 kW and 196 Nm (at 4 000 rpm) or a 1.6T GDI 4-cylinder turbopetrol (130 kW/265 N.m) paired with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission (a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is likely with the latter, however).
And, what are the chances of a hotter flagship version joining the line-up? In 2016, Hyundai unveiled an Avante (as the Elantra is known in its home market) Sport model (shown below), powered by the Veloster Turbo’s 150 kW/265 N.m 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder turbopetrol engine mated with a paddle-shift dual-clutch transmission.
The Sport, which, in terms of packaging, shares a few cues with the Corolla Sprinter, rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, has LED headlights, a beefed up front bumper with a black-framed grille and enlarged “air intakes”, but the biggest revision is that the derivative features a multi-link rear suspension and its ride height has been lowered by approximately 18 mm.
It remains to be seen whether this version, with its upgraded front brakes, recalibrated speed-sensitive electric power steering and double exhaust ends will ever be made available in South Africa, but it would certainly add some spice to what is expected to be a well-made and -specified, if less than spectacular, newcomer to the market. Watch this space!
Watch a video of the new Hyundai Elantra: