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2011 Hyundai Elantra: Test Drive
New California design for Elantra looks fab
By Doug Neilson
The new 2011 Hyundai Elantra has certainly stirred up some real excitement in the compact car marketplace. On the outside, its fresh 'fluidic sculpture' styling was designed at Hyundai's North American Design Studio in Irvine, CA, "to give an illusion of constant motion," the company says.
While I wouldn't go quite that far in describing the styling, the new shape is indeed ultra-modern, sporty and fully functional from an aerodynamic perspective, having a very low drag coefficient of 0.28. Also, the new design has a pleasing quality and well-integrated flow for a vehicle in this price range.
Starting at $15,849 (all prices in Canadian dollars) for the base L model (the same price as the 2010 model), to $17,999 for the GL model, $19,799 for the GLS model, and all the way up to $24,699 for the Limited model with automatic transmission, sat/nav and leather seats, most anyone can find happiness in the standard equipment versus total cost.
According to Hyundai Canada, the new model is a complete redesign providing about $1,900 in extra features and equipment. For the top-of-the-line Elantra Limited, the suggested retail price has been reduced by $1,100 while more than $1,400 in features and equipment has been added.
Regardless of the model chosen, the new Elantra also boosts re-engineered drivetrains too. It is powered by an all-new 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine with an aluminum head and block, with a cast iron crankshaft and cylinder liners; this modern design decreases the total engine weight, yet maintains strength and durability.
Other features, such as variable valve timing for intake and exhaust valves, timing chain, low-friction valve operation, two-stage intake system, hydraulic engine mounts, adaptive alternator, and drive-by-wire throttle control, demonstrate modern engineering and lower maintenance requirements. The new engine delivers a segment-topping 148 hp (same as the 2011 Mazda3), excellent fuel economy for this class (6.8 L/100 km city and 4.9 L/100 km highway for the manual transmission and 6.9/4.9 for the automatic). It weighs 34 kg less than the engine in the previous Elantra model.
On the road, the engine is responsive, fairly quiet, and notably refined. In addition, you can choose between two new six-speed transmissions -- a manual or an optional automatic (which adds $1,200 to the price of the L, GL, and GLS models; the automatic is standard equipment on the Limited).
In the safety department, the new Elantra has a 37% greater body stiffness, with defined front and rear crumple zones, and is equipped with six standard airbags on all trim levels. A new vehicle stability control (VSC) system manages traction, steering, and braking on adverse surface conditions and/or at fast cornering speeds.
The Elantra is also equipped with a new four-wheel disc brake system with antilock (ABS). Additional features such as brake assist (BA), which helps the driver exert maximum braking force in an emergency situation, and electronic brake force distribution (EBD), which automatically manages the brake force distribution between the front and rear brakes for maximum braking effectiveness, are also included.
The interior of the new Elantra is also worth a good deal of praise. The design and layout are contemporary, functional and surprisingly upscale for a compact vehicle. In fact, it looks like the materials, textures and construction used in the instrument panel, seats and interior panels could well be found in a vehicle costing more than double the price. Also, a lot of work has been done to maximize the given space. The inside of the Elantra is truly comfortable place to be, and its class-topping 16.9 litres of useable storage area helps you keep your things tidy and out of sight.
With each trim level equipped with the same 1.8-litre engine, six-speed transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, stability control, six air bags and power windows, the choices are made all the easier. Depending on your budget for desired creature comforts and additional features, the four available trim levels give you a wide selection to choose from.
I test drove a Limited model with leather seating and the optional sat/nav system. For a compact class car, it felt uncharacteristically solid, provided an excellent seating position with surprisingly good comfort, had very good outward vision, and it handled with a great deal of agility. The electrically actuated power steering was well weighted (neither too light nor too heavy) and inspired confidence with its precision during parking manoeuvres, and in both low- and higher-speed cornering.
The suspension was firmer than expected, roughening the ride quality somewhat, but such is the price to pay for tighter handling. Also, the six-speed automatic transmission worked seamlessly and effectively in the background, just as it should.
In all, the new Elantra is definitely bound for increased success in the highly competitive compact car class.
2011 Hyundai Elantra: Quick Facts
Class: Compact, four-door sedan
Base Price levels: L - $15,849, GL - $17,999, GLS - $19,799, Limited - $24,699
Engine: 1.8-litre I4 (inline four-cylinder)
Horsepower/Torque: 148 hp/131 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic
Drive: Front wheel drive
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 6.8 city/4.9 highway; regular gas
Competition: Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf/Jetta.
Doug Neilson is a freelance automotive journalist based in Calgary, AB. ©2011 CarTest.ca
Posted February 18, 2011. © CarTest.ca TM