VERDICT: Prepare to be surprised
But not any more. Since last year’s introduction of first the stunning IX35 SUV and later the Sonata, the Korean brand is on a roll, delivering one looker after another – with the possible exception of the vanilla i10.
So, the Elantra. The designers refer to its shape as “fluidic sculpture” but we’ll be less eloquent and just say it looks like a shrunken Sonata. This fifth generation Elantra is 50 mm longer than its predecessor which delivers a total of 18 litres more cabin space.
Engine-wise there’s a new 1,8-litre unit delivering 110 kW and 178 Nm.
There’s also an upgraded existing 1,6-litre engine good for 96 kW and 157 Nm. Both are available with manual transmissions while the 1,8-litre can also be ordered with an automatic transmission.
Ride quality is compliant and solid, although for spirited drivers perhaps not quite as engaging as say a Golf or Focus.
With that said, both Elantras are well-equipped, featuring a radio/CD player with a USB socket and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic wipers, electric windows and a trip computer. The 1,8 adds alloy wheels, rear park assist and curtain airbags.
Amazingly, Hyundai has kept the Elantra’s prices in check and the 1,6 sells at well below the psychological R200?000 mark. It’s our pick.
THE HYUNDAI ELANTRA RANGE
1,6 GLS manual R186?900
1,8 GLS manual R214?900
1,8 GLS auto R224 900
PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h in 9,3-10,7 seconds; top speed 200-205 km/h; fuel consumption 6,1-7,2 litres/100 km