The 7th-generation Hyundai Elantra is undoubtedly the most distinctive, athletic-looking compact sedan that the Korean manufacturer has ever produced… In addition, the edgy newcomer, which was unveiled via a YouTube broadcast from West Hollywood, targets younger buyers with its plethora of highly-connected interior features.
Based on the brand’s 3rd-generation compact (K3) platform, the new Elantra sports a head-turning “4-door-coupe look” – it's only the 2nd Hyundai model to showcase the brand’s new Sensuous Sportiness design language (after the Sonata). The new model is not only longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor, but has higher structural rigidity (for improved refinement) and a lower kerb weight, which improves fuel economy. Other benefits of the new platform are a lower, more engaging, driving position, a reduced centre of gravity – which improves handling stability – and lastly, improved frontal-crash safety because of a multi-load path structure design.
The K3 platform (on which the new Elantra is based), has facilitated a lower centre of gravity and sportier driving position.
The “parametric dynamics” to which Hyundai Motor Group chief design officer Luc Donckerwolke refers (when he describes the new Elantra’s exterior execution) can be seen in the way that the newcomer’s expansive, cascading grille, headlamp clusters and indicator elements seem to merge into a single design element, and the contours at the outer edges of the bumpers, as well as the swage lines on the car’s flanks, that “meet at one point”.
As for the interior, the Elantra’s cabin dimensions do not suffer for the sedan’s sleeker roofline; front head- and shoulder room have increased slightly (rear headroom is unchanged) and the longer wheelbase enables the Hyundai to offer “best-in-class” rear legroom. Even the Elantra’s boot capacity is 8% bigger than that of its Corolla rival, the manufacturer claims.
Note how the Elantra's boot line extends comfortably beyond the edges of the sedan's ornate tail-light clusters.
The newcomer's fascia design is sweeping – with slim vents hidden in the from-side-to-side chrome-finished louvres – and particularly driver-focused; the latter aspect is emphasised by the touchscreen being angled towards the driver and the division of the cockpit through a handle strut that stretches from the centre of the hang-down section (around the area of the HVAC controls) to the centre console.
As standard, the Elantra will feature a conventional instrument cluster (with analogue dials), an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, a multifunction 4-spoke steering wheel, Bluetooth streaming and -telephony and a reverse-view camera with guiding lines. However, Hyundai took the opportunity to showcase the 8th-generation Elantra in its fanciest spec in Hollywood (as one does) – the car shown here features a pair of adjacent 10.25-inch screens: one that serves as a digital instrument cluster and the other, an extended infotainment screen.
The look of the top-spec Elantra's combined instrument cluster/infotainment screen looks reminiscent of Mercedes' MBUX system.
Furthermore, an 8-speaker Bose audio system, voice recognition (through which a driver can control various of the car's onboard functions) and a digital key, which allows drivers with Android phones to access their vehicles without a key fob, are also optionally available.
The newcomer rides on a McPherson strut front- and multi-link rear suspension setup. In the States, it will be powered by either a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine (109 kW/179 Nm) mated with a variable automatic transmission or a petrol-electric power unit (a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a 32-kW electric motor and 1.32-kWh lithium-ion battery, which produces combined peak outputs of 103kW and 264 Nm.
The Elantra's cockpit is decidedly driver-focused; note how the lower fascia and infotainment screen is angled inward.
In North America, forward collision-avoidance assist (with pedestrian detection), lane-keeping-, following and high-beam assist, plus driver-attention warning all come as standard (over and above ABS with EBD and front-, side- and curtain airbags). High-end features such as blind-spot collision avoidance assist (with rear cross-traffic alert), adaptive cruise control, driving assist, safe-exit warning and reverse-parking collision avoidance systems are available too.
The question is: Will Hyundai South Africa, which has removed the outgoing Elantra from its website, introduce the marque's 8th-generation sedan in South Africa? After all, the conventional 4-door family car seems under constant threat of its compact family cars, including the brand's own Creta, Kona and Venue models. Suffice to say that it was not in the importer's plans for 2020 (when we last checked). However, given the undoubted potential of the new model to spawn sportier derivatives, such as N-line and full N versions (Hyundai has 1.6- and 2.0-litre turbopetrol engines, mated with either a 7- or 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, in its arsenal), well, hope springs eternal.