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The compact four- door Hyundai Elantra is the seventh generation of the Korean carmakers popular sedan and based on Hyundai’s new K3 platform. It has a longer wheelbase, a wider stance, and a lower roofline than the previous generation. It is an attractive car with a premium feel to the exterior and interior styling and is certainly one of the best-looking cars in its sector with Hyundai’s “Parametric Dynamics” design language. Think futurism and sleek creases, the way the light plays on the toned flanks is simply wonderful!
The Elantra is joined this year by the performance N line model and for the first time a hybrid Electric (HEV) version as tested. Note this is not a plug-in hybrid, (PHEV) but a self- charging unit with an on-board battery. The Hybrid features a 1.6L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with 104 horsepower and 109 lb.-ft. of torque. It works with a 43-horsepower electric motor that produces another 125 lb.-ft. of torque. The two power sources together, produce a net output of 139 horsepower, and a respectable 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The Hybrid’s engine and electric motor work with a six-speed EcoShift dual-clutch (DCT) transmission driving the front wheels. Hyundai claims’ the twin-clutch design delivers a more immediate response.
The electric portion of the drivetrain also features the 1.32 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery located under the rear seat, but it does not intrude on trunk space — the Hybrid has the same 402-litre cargo capacity as the non-hybrid models. In terms of fuel efficiency, the Elantra Hybrid delivers a combined average fuel economy of 4.4 L/100 kilometres. The base Elantra starts at a bargain $17,899. Stepping up to the Hybrid base is a very attractive $27,188 plus destination charges.
The new cabin is a huge improvement from Elantra’s of the past and has an upmarket feel. Although the Elantra is a compact car, fit finish and details are way ahead of what you would expect for the price. Yes, there is a surplus of hard black plastic trim, but its all high quality; with particular attention to details on items such as the controls and dash. The dash itself is very impressive and comprised of two 10.25-inch screens joined under a single piece of glass. The left screen displays the digital instrumentation. It’s clean, clear, and uncluttered in the way it presents information. The right screen takes care of the infotainment and navigation. Note: this kind of dash is found in high-end cars such as Mercedes – Benz, so to find the fully digital dash in the Elantra is astounding! There is a premium luxury air to the Elantra with its heated leather seats as found on our tester. There was also dual-zone climate control and wireless phone charging. The rear compartment is well finished with a cargo volume of 402 litres (14.2 cu ft) in the trunk. Headroom and legroom is fine in all quarters.
There is the optional driver-selectable mood lighting and the choice of 64 colours. BlueLink telematics, Bose AM/FM/XM/MP3/HD premium audio with 8 speakers, 8.0” touch-screen display with rear view camera, and leather Seating were all present on our tester. Equipment Occupant protection included: Safe Exit Alarm, Proximity Keyless Entry with Push-Button, Ignition & Remote Start. Safety features also included: Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, (RCCA), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Pedestrian, Cyclist, and Junction Turning Detection,* Lane Following Assist (LFA), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop-and-Go Capability.
On the road, the first thing that surprises you is the serene, hushed ride. But the Elantra is also peppy to drive with stable, no drama handling. It feels agile, yet not jittery. There is a sporty ride on the twist and turns that make the everyday driving experience pleasant. I also enjoyed the crisp handling, and precise linear steering. The 6-speed gearbox gives quick, no glitch shifts, its more responsive thanks to the dual clutch system and the transitions are much smoother on up and down shifts. The change over from electric to gas engine is also a pretty seamless affair.
Downsides are few. I find there is a lack of soft touch materials, and little too much hard plastic at the driver touch points. To sum up, the Hyundai Elantra is amongst the top sedan in its class, and arguably amongst the best looking. The Hybrid is a segment buster in terms of performance, features, and comfort. You get high equipment levels ,handling and driver satisfaction that beats cars costing at least $10,000 more. Stellar fuel economy in this hybrid model also makes it a good performer. Highly recommended for families and singles everywhere looking for a little spice in their ride!
2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: Price as tested $27,199