Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS (2014) Review

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The Hyundai Elantra is an important model for the Korean automaker and when the fifth-generation Elantra launched in South Africa in 2011, it stirred the pot in the medium luxury sedan market with its attractive 'fluidic sculpture' design, comprehensive standard features and value-for-money appeal. In fact, it was such a good car it won the South African Car of the Year Award in 2012 and the North American Car of the Year Award.

Now in 2014, the Hyundai Elantra has received a number of exterior and interior enhancements to make it even better, but how good is it? I spent a few days with the Elantra 1.6 GLS to find out more.

Dressed to kill

One thing's for sure, the updated Hyundai Elantra is dressed to kill its competition in the styling department, it's that attractive. The Elantra's wheelbase has remained the same while growing in length by 20mm. The front grille, headlights, fog lights and bumpers have been redesigned and chrome moulding along the beltline now accentuates the side profile.

Larger 17-inch, two-tone, alloy wheels replace the 16-inch alloys and add a touch of dynamism to the design. That low, coupe-like appearance with its edgy curves will ensure that the Hyundai Elantra holds its appeal.

Refined Interior

The ergonomics in the cabin are excellent with all the controls neatly placed. The luxury grey cloth seats offer comfortable seating for both front and rear passengers. The cabin is also spacious with ample leg, shoulder and head room and the family will also appreciate that large 485-litre boot which should easily swallow all your holiday luggage. If you really have to, you can also fold the 60:40 split seats down for even more space.

In terms of changes, the Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS features a simple audio system which now integrates Bluetooth, but sadly still doesn't feature a Radio Data System (RDS), which can be frustrating. The central air vents have been re-positioned, now flanking the audio system on either side and the climate control interface has also taken on a new and improved look.

The side mirrors are electrically adjustable and the centre armrest has been raised for more comfort. The three-spoke steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable with mounted audio, Bluetooth and trip computer controls for added convenience.

Although Hyundai has done exceptionally well to create a comfortable and ergonomically sound cabin, features such as rear parking sensors and cruise control would have served this model well. Apart from that and the lack of RDS, the interior is outstanding with very little to fault.

Smooth Operator

Hiding beneath that bonnet is a 16-valve, four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine that offers up 96 kW of power and 157 Nm of torque. The 2014 Hyundai Elantra is superbly quiet on the road and the smooth action six-speed manual transmission is a pleasure to use, effortlessly guiding every gear change with ease.

Hyundai has gone to great lengths to improve the driving experience by reducing noise and vibration in this updated Elantra model and it truly is a smooth operator.

The Hyundai Elantra delivers its power and torque in a civilized and refined manner. You never really have to force the Elantra to perform, it just does. For the driver, that means you can just sit back, relax and get on with it. Weighing in at 1 175kg, the Elantra isn't heavy and the 1.6 engine does well to move the Elantra along at pace if need be. However, the Elantra isn't really an engaging car to drive and some might consider the drive to be a bit boring. Nonetheless,  it's an excellent cruiser that delivers a smooth and refined drive which is an attractive characteristic that will appeal to many.

In terms of fuel consumption, Hyundai claims 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle for this manual derivative. During the test period, I failed to get the Hyundai Elantra to budge below the 8L/100km mark, which is still decent.

Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS - Verdict

The facelifted Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS is a superb vehicle. The interior and exterior enhancements have elevated the Elantra to new heights and the level of refinement is impressive. Simply put, the Elantra is a pleasure to drive. Combine all these elements together along with an attractive price and Hyundai's 5-year/150 000km warranty and suddenly you have a winner. You really can't go wrong with this Korean beauty.

Second Opinion

The Hyundai Elantra has been a success story for the brand in South Africa and this update for 2014 sees the interior receive a few tweaks. Like the version which claimed a Car of the Year title in SA a few years back, this model has excellent ride quality, spacious cabin and it drives well. It definitely should be on your list when looking for an affordable sedan. - David Taylor 

Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS - Price in South Africa

The Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS manual derivative is priced from R252 900 while the automatic derivative is priced from R267 900. The Elantra comes with a 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer's warranty, 5-year/160 000 km perforation warranty, 5-year/150 000 km Roadside Assistance and 5-year/90 000 km Service plan with service intervals set at 15 000km.

Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS - Quick Specs

Price  R252 900
Engine  1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power  96 kW
Torque  157 Nm
Transmission  Six-speed manual
Wheels  17-inch alloys
0-100km/h  10.1 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  6.4L/100 km (claimed)
We Like:
  • Comfortable and spacious interior
  • Smooth and quiet drive
  • Competitive pricing
  • Comprehensive warranty
We Don't Like:
  • No RDS or rear parking sensors
  • Lacks driver excitement
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