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Road Test: Hyundai Elantra petrol and diesel - To D or not to D

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The secret to a car’s success in the market is delivering what the potential buyer wants. This is something that Hyundai knows only too well, and the Elantra is a testament to that fact. And the manufacturer has managed to do it within a reasonable budget as well. Looks certainly matter to a buyer looking for his next car, and in this department, the Elantra is ahead of the game. The Fluidic design philosophy that debuted on the Verna has made its presence felt on the Elantra. Strong and sharp slashes abound on the new Hyundai, and various surfaces interlude with each other, resulting in a very modern aesthetic. There’s not much to dislike when it comes to the way the Elantra holds the air around its body, except perhaps for the fact that it appears to be strikingly similar to the Verna.

Another Verna attribute that the Elantra lives with is the fact that the car borrows the same 1582 cc 126.2 bhp diesel motor.  Having driven the diesel mated with the 6-speed gearbox, the numbers speak for themselves. Naught to 60 kph comes after 4.7 secs while 6 seconds later, the car hits the tonne. The diesel grunt comes in strongly at mid range revs, leaving very little for the higher end. Lower end shove is decent, but you cannot lug the car in a taller gear at low speeds or else it will protest by jerking or bogging down. 

The petrol motor, however, is a new 1787 cc engine that is good for 147.4 bhp. In this test, the car I drove was bolted on to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Surprisingly, the performance figures shadow those of the diesel rather closely. A 0-60 kph sprint is achieved in 5 seconds while 100 kph comes in at 11.3 seconds. Both engines are very, very refined and they seem to be most comfortable on the highway, stretching their rather long legs. Hardly any of the din from the engine makes it into the cabin, making it very easy to wonder whether the motor is running at all. City traffic conditions are easier on the driver of the automatic, obviously, but for reasons stemming from the wallet, it makes more sense to go auto with the diesel. For more on that, check out Rohin’s evaluation of the Elantra diesel with the automatic transmission in the August issue of BSM.

 

That’s where the similarity ends, however. The Verna is a vile-handling car, with a suspension so mushy that it makes boy bands seem like hardcore head banging types. That car will happily bounce around mid corner and even in the straights, making triple-digit highway runs a bit too, how do I say it, involving for most people’s comfort. Things have changed with the Elantra and I am happy to report that it is much more dynamically sorted than the Verna.

Sure, it isn’t as adept at hard cornering when compared to some of its European competitors, but it won’t scare you silly either. The diesel, with the additional engine weight at the fore, feels less skittish than its petrol counterpart. The Elantra’s suspension feels firmer than that of the Verna, and the rear wheels now thankfully don’t have a mind of their own.

When it comes to ride quality, the Elantra offers a pliant experience over bad surfaces. The suspension absorbs road imperfections well and only the worst potholes will faze the car. But a series of bumps in rapid succession could cause the car to pogo, a trait for which the softish suspension is to blame.

The brakes are competent, and go about doing their jobs efficiently. They could do with some feel but to most car buyers, their only concern is whether the stoppers have the capability to shed speed safely at a moment’s notice. The verdict is yes, the Elantra’s brakes are up to the task and the ABS fitted for good measure actually works. A couple of cows crossing the road all of a sudden in front of me are the reason why I can say all of the above with firm conviction.

 

The interiors of the Elantra are well up there with the rest and certainly more densely packed with gizmos than the competition. Reversing camera? Check. Steering-mounted controls? Check. Bluetooth connectivity with the audio system? Check. USB and auxiliary ports? Check. Seat coolers for the driver and co-driver? Check and check. Personal masseuse? Check. Er wait, I got carried away with that one. Jokes aside, the Elantra has almost everything one could wish for in a car, and that’s really saying something.

Once behind the wheel, you realise that the ergonomics are pretty much spot on. All controls are placed exactly where you’d want them and they come to you whenever you need them. The steering wheel, however, is quirky when it comes to the feel it offers. It’s way too soft on the whole but then suddenly tightens and loosens sporadically. And this is at standstill.

Legroom is good, even for the back benchers. Under thigh support of the seats could have been better, though they hold on to you quite well. I’m not a big fan of lumbar support because in most cases, the thing simply doesn’t fit me right. This is the same with the Elantra too. However, this appears to be a problem only with me, Aditya drove the same cars and he was all oohhs and ahhs with regard to the comfort the seats offered him. Oh well!

I really believe that the Elantra is a good car that would meet the requirements of a lot of people. Priced at Rs 16.62 lakh for the diesel and Rs 15.46 lakh for the petrol auto as tested, both amounts being ex-showroom, Mumbai, these Hyundais aren’t exactly cheap. But they offer a lot for the money they demand and in some cases, the OEM equipment far exceeds what the competition has to offer. Add in a large dealer network, comparatively good experiences with the authorised service centres and decent build quality, and the Elantra certainly will tick a lot of boxes for plenty of car buyers. Just don’t expect the handling to match the engine’s performance, and you’re good. Oh, and if I were you, I’d go in for the diesel. But then again, that’s just me. Turn the page over to know how well the Hyundai Elantra fares versus the competition.