Monday, March 12, 2012
Just because a model is a Stella seller overseas, does not necessarily mean it will be embraced with open arms and wallets by buyers in this country, with the Hyundai Elantra a good case in point.
The Elantra is the most popular models Hyundai has globally yet for over 15 years it has battled to get any sales traction on our market and there are no obvious reasons for it failing to hit the sweet spot with buyers here. Over this time, other less appealing models have fared better on the sales ladder, when based on ability they should have been a good few rungs below the Elantra.
What various versions of this car have lacked in order to scale greater heights on the sales podium is that special something to stand out in the small car crowd. Models without a unique point of difference are usually confined to the sales wilderness. Hyundai may have in their latest Elantra a model with the talent and bold styling too find the sales success that has eluded its predecessor in this country. Its chances of doing this will be largely dictated by how much marketing grunt the company is prepared to put behind it, or whether they are simply prepared to settle for it being another under achieving Elantra.
A three tier sedan only model range starts at $35,995 – at the other end of the price spectrum is the $41,990 flagship Elite Limited. Parked neatly between this pair is the $39,990 Elite provided for this road test. Even in price leading guise the new Elantra is a modern, sophisticated and attractively styled sedan good enough to force its way into the small car sales limelight in this country.The 2.0 liitre engine used in the previous Elantra is sent packing to make away for a smaller capacity 1.8 litre unit offering similar levels of power and torque. This is a new engine in both design and name coming from Hyundai’s Nu generation of power plants. This particular one musters 110kw enough to punch the Elantra along at the sort of pace that will hit the right spot for many buyers. Those prospective purchasers looking for better than fair to middling performance will be mildly disappointed and better to shop elsewhere. This engine will not give up without a fight to keep these buyers in the tent ten and try to woo them by playing the smoothness and refinement card, but is comfortable aced by a number of its rivals for pace and purpose.
While the Elite model I drove is the mid-range model it had more than enough creature comforts and luxury features to satisfy most. The remainder, are likely to be those who insist on all the trappings of automotive life in their vehicles and they pretty much get that by going the next rung up the Elantra ladder to the Elite Limited.
Apart from roofline that falls way fairly steeply toward the rear of the car and shaves of a few centimetres of rear head room for back seat occupants along the way, this is one of the roomier sedans in its class. There is also the bonus of deep, well proportioned boot that can stash away a surprising amount of luggage and there is no raised boot lip to wrestle loads over.
What is the verdict? Big step up over the previous model but still no class leader.