Best value for money
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2012 Hyundai Elantra
By Antony Dickson
Hyundai has come a long way since its humble beginnings and today, it’s vehicles are among the most popular ones. Sales figures are proof enough of Hyundai growing success with their models fast disappearing off dealership lots. One of their hot-selling models is the Hyundai Elantra that is enjoying a very good year so far. The 2012 Elantra was awarded the title the ‘2012 Canadian Car of the Year’ by The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Prior to this honour, the Elantra was named the ‘2012 North American Car of the Year’. Going by Hyundai officials, the Elantra is slated to beat sales figures of the top-selling Honda Civic by the end of this year.
The Elantra, that was launched as an all-new model in 2011, has seen various upgrades to this year’s model. All 2012 Elantra models equipped with the automatic transmission receive Hyundai’s ActiveECO function, a system which modifies engine and transmission response to improve real-world fuel economy by up to seven percent. Further increasing the value to be found in Elantra, XM Satellite radio is now included in GL models.
When it comes to looks, the Elantra beats all competition hands down with what its manufacturer calls ‘fluidic sculpture’ styling. The design is truly a treat to the eye and creates an illusion of constant motion. But it’s not just looks. The styling serves a purpose beyond aesthetics, endowing the vehicle with a slippery shape. The drag coefficient for the Elantra is an exceptionally low 0.28.
Under the hood resides a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine named “Nu.” Developing 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque, the Nu engine was developed to replace the 2.0-litre Beta engine from the previous generation Elantra. The Nu is smaller in size, weighs 34 kilograms less, and helps achieve a 16-percent improvement in highway fuel economy over the prior model. The 1.8-litre Nu also offers Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) and hydraulic engine mounts for optimum power, efficiency, and refinement.
Working in conjunction with the highly-aerodynamic exterior styling, this efficient powertrain helps Elantra achieve class-leading standard highway fuel economy rating. During the week I tested the Elantra, I achieved a fuel economy of 6.8 litres/100 km in city/highway driving. With a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $15,849, Elantra offers unmatched value in the compact sedan segment.
The Elantra offers a very smooth drive with room for five persons and a boot that holds quite a bit of luggage. Surprisingly, leg room in the back row is comfortable being a mid-size sedan. Electronic throttle control has replaced the conventional cable and mechanical linkage found in the previous generation Elantra. This system can rapidly respond to changing conditions, accurately controlling air intake and engine torque to improve drivability, responsiveness, and fuel economy.
The Elantra scores in another division too. It offers consumers several high-end features like heated rear seats and a touch-screen navigation system with rear-view camera available at an accessible price. A full complement of safety features including four-wheel disc brakes, six airbags, and a myriad of active safety systems are included as standard equipment. All Elantras have cloth-like pillar trim made of fibrous tissue and volcanic rock for a premium look and feel. Elantra owners can select premium features such as proximity keyless entry with push button start, power sunroof, one touch driver’s window with pinch protection, and leather seating surfaces.
The sound system in the Elantra is powered by a 172-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker system and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks is standard on L trims. On the GL, GLS and Limited, XM Satellite Radio is added. Finally, on the Limited with Navigation, a 360-watt system with external amplifier is included. The available touch-screen navigation system includes a high-resolution 7.0-inch display and voice-activation via a headliner-mounted microphone. To be honest, the sound can be compared to several high-end vehicles. Music can also be played through the head unit from select mobile phones using Bluetooth streaming audio on models equipped with the Bluetooth hands-free phone system.
The Elantra now has some siblings that have just made their appearance in the market. A two-door Elantra Coupe and five-door Elantra GT hatchback are being offered to customers. Watch this space for a detailed review on these newer additions. Overall, the Elantra is the best choice if you’re in the market for a mid-size sedan with lots of features at down to earth prices.