Brent Co / Brent Co, HARI Press | June 22, 2016 14:11
Driving Hyundai's new C-segment challenger to Northern Cebu
In the automotive world, twenty-five years can be considered as proof of a model’s success, and such is the case now for the Hyundai Elantra.
Hyundai's popular compact car has very well proven itself for a quarter of a century to be the Korean automaker's top-selling model.
Now on its sixth-generation the 2016 Hyundai Elantra has definitely come a long way since it was first introduced in 1990. It follows on the heels of a successful predecessor which achieved annual sales of over 1 million units.
Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) brought us to the Queen City of the South to give us a first taste of what their latest C-segment challenger is all about. Having witnessed its global show debut as the Elantra at the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, I was definitely looking forward to this drive. All the more on a familiar but scenic route up to Northern Cebu from the newly inaugurated Hyundai Cebu South showroom operated by Edward Onglatco featuring the Korean automaker’s new Global Dealership Space Identity (GDSI).
Size-wise, the Elantra measures well within the middle of the pack at 4570 mm long, 1800 mm wide and 1450 mm tall and sits on a 2700 mm wheelbase. It’s dimensions are well within the optimal size to give comfort, handling and interior space.
HARI offers the 2016 Elantra in four trims, they are: 1.6 GL M/T, 1.6 GL A/T, 2.0 GL Limited and the top-spec 2.0 GLS. The 2016 Elantra is part of the second wave of Hyundai cars styled under the company’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy. It carries a more European-inspired flair inside and out owing to company Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer’s increased influence. Earlier this year, it was recognized with an iF design award along with the Tucson crossover.
At the center is a rather “familiar” hexagonal radiator grill flanked by sharp-looking projector headlamps. The character line stretches from the lights to the sides and is finished off at the rear by a pair of similarly shaped tail lights. It is finished off by either 16-inch or 17-inch alloys, depending on trim level.
The interior design has also become a lot less “Korean” as previous models ended up over-styled and over-embellished. It is very straightforward with ergonomically placed instrumentation and controls. A lot of soft-touch surfaces and high quality were added to interior to give a more “premium” feel. The driving position has also significantly improved, making the long drive a pleasurable one. With seats padded and bolstered in the right places. The rear seats were optimally angled giving a comfortable ride for occupants. And it also comes with rear A/C vents on the GLS variant.
The range-topping 2.0 GLS gets dual-zone digital climate control with ionizer, a touchscreen display entertainment system with six speakers, Bluetooth, USB and AUX connectivity. It also comes with a comfort access key with push-button ignition and a reverse camera.
The 2.0 GL and 1.6 GL AT versions get a standard radio with CD player, four speakers, USB and AUX connectivity. The base 1.6 GL MT doesn’t come with USB or AUX connectivity. Powering the Elantra is either a Gamma 1.6-liter MPI engine producing 127 metric horsepower and 154 Newton-meters mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic; or a Nu 2.0-liter MPI rated at 152 metric horsepower with 192 newton-meters of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.0-liter motor, while not the most powerfully rated among the bunch, delivered well and is nicely matched with the six-speed slushbox. Having a relatively short stint with the cars having to switch other drivers, we’ll leave fuel economy figures for our lengthier review later on. The 1.6-liter on the other hand, while more than adequately powered is more suited to urban duties or those who simply drive a very relaxed pace. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no slouch, but it isn’t the most powerful in its class either.
A major highlight to the new Elantra is its new body structure which makes use of Advance High Strength Steel (AHSS) giving it the benefit of both safety and handling performance. NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) was also significantly reduced through the use of thicker door glass.
The new chassis, coupled with a significantly improved suspension setup allows the car to handle a lot more confidently. However, I found the electric-assisted steering to a little light for my liking. Fully-loaded versions of the previous-generation came equipped with customizable steering which allowed a firmer “sport” mode for more spirited driving.
Engineers have to be credited for giving the chassis suspension a well-balanced setup. It handled well through the twisty mountain roads and absorbed many of the rough “under-repaired” portions of the national highway with ease. The tires were very well-matched for the car as well.
Locally, Hyundai Elantra is set to compete against the likes of the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla Altis and Volkswagen Jetta; a very competitive market segment to be competing in considering the well-decorated contenders.
While it aims to make a statement with its “extreme boldness” through styling and engineering, competitors have started to offer more tech and amenities as well. It does drive and ride well. Pricing is just a bit below the competition, but a little more options like flex-steer, LED illumination shouldn’t hurt either. Retail starts at PhP 898,000 up to PhP 1,158,000 and it comes with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty.