Motoring Review – Hyundai Elantra undergoes a face lift

2014-08-21 11:00

Since the Elantra won the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists’ car of the year award in 2012, things have been going swimmingly for ­Hyundai SA.

However, it has been three years since the outgoing model was launched, and it’s time for an update.

Instead of giving the Elantra a complete overhaul with reconstructive surgery, Hyundai has decided to enhance some of the vehicle’s ­characteristics.

If you put the outgoing and the new Elantra 1.6 Premium side by side, you’d hardly notice any difference. So why bother?

Well, if the style changes aren’t too dramatic, the resale value of previous models won’t plummet too considerably.

Also, to stay part of this market segment’s ­cut-throat competition, modern features such as integrated Bluetooth had to be added.

Hyundai also listened to customer complaints about the air conditioning being directed at their hands, so air vents have been placed a little higher and now have a shut-off function.

The climate control interface has been redesigned and the audio system is new.

The centre armrest is higher and the interior is as roomy as ever. The boot is huge, with 485 litres of space.

Regarding some of the exterior changes, the headlamps have been revised and classy alloy wheels replace steel rims.

A new chrome grille and beltline add just the right amount of bling.

The fog lights look a little more technical and new electric folding side mirrors will make squeezing into tight spots a breeze.

On our drive from Melkbosstrand through the Swartland, I immediately noticed a change in noise and vibration levels. Not that the out­going Elantra was noisy, but there is a definite ­improvement.

The six-speed manual gearbox is slicker than a second-hand car salesman, and is one of the Elantra’s strongest points. The steering feels a lot more direct and has a weighted, premium feel to it.

It is also speed sensitive, which means that it will adapt to whatever driving situation you’re in. For ­example, on the open road it will feel a little ­stiffer to give good feedback, but feel more flexible when you’re parallel parking in the city.

The ride quality and handling is superb. Safety features stay the same. Knee protection and Isofix child seat anchors are also standard. My only issue with the Elantra is that ­Hyundai should have added a couple more air bags.

My own 2012 Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 LS is fitted with front, side and curtain air bags, which was a big selling point for me. But other than that, the ­refined Elantra is the complete package.

Included in the price is a five-year/150?000km warranty, with five-year/150?000km roadside ­assistance and a five-year/90?000km service plan.

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