Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: May 30, 2016
In this day and age, compact cars have started to attract a different kind of audience, a more mature and grown-up market. Automakers have since tried hard to redesign their vehicles to stray away from the “first new car” status that many buyers seem to associate with them, and jam pack them with features and technology that used to only be found in cars costing over $50,000. Now, you can find high-tech safety systems, heated seats, and Apple CarPlay well within your budget. The top three that currently reign this segment are the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and the Hyundai Elantra. All three of these hot compacts feel more substantial and upscale than ever before.
However, if someone came up to me a few years ago and claimed that the Hyundai Elantra was better than the Honda Civic, I would have pulled them aside and checked their pupils for dilation. But these days, the compact sedan market is a little less clear cut. The new Honda Civic is by all means, one of the best compact vehicles I have ever driven but dare I say it, the new 2017 Hyundai Elantra certainly has what it takes to overthrow the king.
When you get your first glimpse of the redesigned 2017 Hyundai Elantra, it is easy to mistake it for the larger Hyundai Sonata. While the Elantra retains a wheelbase that is in line with its competitors, somehow Hyundai has used their #HFactor to squeeze out a few more inches of rear-seat leg room. Cabin space feels more like a mid-sized sedan from 2006 rather than a cramped compact. The open and airy feeling inside is also helped by windows that seem larger than the previous Elantra, as well as a dashboard design that avoids making the driver feel enveloped in the cockpit.
All Elantras will come with a new 147-hp 2.0-litre four cylinder that uses the Atkinson cycle. Long story short, this type of engine sacrifices a bit of power to be more efficient on fuel. On the contrary, Hyundai has decided to stray from the CVT status quo in favour of a smooth torque-converted 6-speed autobox. The automatic feels more natural when accelerating compared to the Civic’s CVT, where the latter’s turbo lag combined with drony and frustrating rubberband transmission left for a stale and whiny driving experience. The Elantra had no such issue – power was vigorous right from the get go in the low RPM range.
The Elantra is no slouch in the handling department either. Although this car was mainly designed for comfort and efficiency, the Elantra can sure boot its way around town. The three-mode drive select system can be set to Sport (to make torque available earlier, delaying upshifts and weighting the steering) making the Elantra and its ultra-rigid SUPERSTRUCTURE foundation handle and feel like it deserves a GTI badge on its rear bumper. My only suggestion to Hyundai would be to offer a beefier turbocharged engine for some extra sporting appeal, perhaps the 1.6-litre from the Tuscon?
The biggest changes come to the Elantra’s exterior: the dominating grille that is the new corporate trademark, paired with reworked LED daytime running lights and updated headlights. Don’t get me wrong; the outgoing 2016 Elantra wasn’t hard on the eyes, but the new one has essentially ironed out all the creases.
The large grille is functional as well – not for cooling the motor of course, but the lower intake cutouts help channel air around the front wheels to improve vehicle aerodynamics, bringing the Elantra’s coefficient of drag down to a mere 0.27.
Hyundai has kept its interior more simplistic and ergonomic than the Civic by closely resembling the well-regarded Sonata. Infotainment controls include proper buttons and knobs for volume and tuning, and HVAC controls are all placed logically where they should be. Borrowing a good idea from the Volkswagen lineup is that the storage bin, USBs, and 12-volt sockets are all located in front of the shifter – the most convenient and ergonomical place to have them, in my opinion.
Hyundai’s infotainment system is very rational and easy to use too. The navigation lady shuts up when you want her too, and you get a wonderful ‘Home’ feature that lets you look at both the GPS map and what tune is playing at the same time.
Interior tidbits on our Limited trim include leather seating surfaces with an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, an 8-inch touchscreen navigation system with Android Auto and a 315-watt Infinity 8 speaker sound system. All of these features give the Elantra a big boost in functionality.
The Elantra also features Blind spot Detection, and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert – a rarity in this segment but definitely a plus in the safety department. The rear view camera also uses all of the available 8-inch screen space to ensure you get a really good picture of what is lurking behind your rear bumper.
How does Hyundai do it!? Just like those commercials, I was astounded by how good this little compact really was. I found myself wanting to drive it more and more each time I got a chance to. Plus at the end of the week, it had cost me almost nothing to go about 500 km. Averaging 7.6 L/100km on regular fuel, the Atkinson cycle really helps Hyundai deliver that extra edge over a similarly priced Civic Turbo.
Starting at $26,249, the Elantra Limited is $741 cheaper than the top of the line Civic Touring and would actually be the one I’d pick for myself. It has just enough features without going overboard. The only thing the Elantra Limited lacks and what the Civic Touring provides, are HID headlights, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. To get all of these features on the Elantra you’ll have to fork over another $2,000. At that price point you’re starting to head into a whole different class of vehicle.
With that being said (I never thought I’d say it) but the Hyundai Elantra has really shocked everyone in this ultra-competitive market. It’s always a refreshing experience to see the underdog pull off an uppercut K.O. on the reigning champ because in my books, the Elantra is on the top of the podium. Now Hyundai’s real challenge begins: staying up there.
型号 Model: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited
顏色 Paint Type: Marina Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $15,999
試車售價 Price as Tested: $26,249
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,700
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,550 / 1,800 / 1,435
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,350
引擎 Engine: 2.0L inline-four cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 8.3 / 6.4 / 7.4
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 17-inch wheels