TEST DRIVE: 2017 Hyundai Elentra

2017 ELANTRA SEDAN

For 2017, Hyundai introduced an all-new Elantra, a product that long been very popular in Canada with tens of thousands on the road going back several generations. Part of its popularity is linked to its “ideal” size. It’s not too large and bulky, yet it’s no cramped subcompact either. It’s been popular with families, especially the various liftback or ‘Touring” versions. Interestingly, it’s classified as a midsize car and not a compact – a notch above many key rivals.

The latest Elantra is the sixth generation and is new from bumper to bumper. Although the last model was an exceptionally attractive small car, the new one takes contemporary design trends a step further and features a bolder, more assertive look. Even a glance around the body panels will reveal that Hyundai’s every-growing reputation for build quality is evident everywhere. The shut lines, the points where various panels meet, are flawless and well up to the best industry standards. The paint also is very well done with a clearcoat that should preserve this car’s finish for many years, even without waxing.

2017 ELANTRA SEDAN

For 2017, Hyundai has made wider use of advanced high-strength steels and this will make a major contribution towards stiffer bodywork and subsequently enhanced handling. The material also reduces cabin noise and eliminates the possibility of squeaks and rattles. In fact, Hyundai says that making the body 53 per cent high-strength steel, against 21 per cent with the old model, increases torsional rigidity by almost 30 per cent, which is a big improvement. This steel is especially used at high stress points around the body and it has been Hyundai’s aim to top the stringent federal safety ratings set in the US.

According to which model you buy, you can get 17-inch wheels, which add a sporty touch. Novel new features around the bodywork include LED door handle approach lights, turn signals in the mirrors, LED taillights and high intensity discharge headlights. The new Elantra is 20 mm longer than the old model and the car is very slightly higher (5 mm).

Hyundai has gone for an all-new powertrain for 2017 and the basic powerplant is a 2.0-litre MPI Atkinson cycle unit which produces 147-horsepower. According to Hyundai, this is the only Atkinson cycle engine to be combined with multi-point injection in its class. Atkinson cycle engines embody some fascinating technology and for seeking full details of what happens, the internet has many lengthier descriptions than can be incorporated here. The 2.0-litre four is paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission – a better choice than a CVT for a car like this.

Inside the Elantra, Hyundai has gone for what it calls “a jet fighter look” so it’s all very cockpit-like. It’s certainly a great looking cabin and rear legroom is surprisingly generous. All models come with standard mobile phone hookups and there are also USB and auxiliary input jacks – a very “connected” car indeed. Current Hyundai models are the fastest cars I’ve ever come across to pair mobile phones with and I figure it can be done in less that 30-seconds. Some vehicles leave a lot to be desired in this respect. The central screen for navigation and various vehicle systems (including the phone) is a big 8-inch unit and very easy to scan from the driver’s seat.

Naturally, all kinds of safety equipment is standard or optional, including autonomous braking, pedestrian detection and the usual backup camera. Also on the options list are lane keep assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist and other near-essential technologies. There are several trim levels available and also a more powerful Sport variant with a 200-horsepower 1.6-litre turbo under the hood. Buyers of this model can order a manual transmission too.

IN SUMMARY…

BODY STYLE: Four-door midsize sedan

ENGINE: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic

PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 8-secs

PRICE: $15,999 base MSRP. Top model, $28,799

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