Time and effort can reap amazing results when applied diligently and Hyundai has taken that exact approach with the Elantra. Starting off life in the 90’s as the sporting sedan in Hyundai’s line up, the latest version hasn’t strayed too far from the original formula. It’s the 2019 Elantra Sport Premium that has our attention with its approachable $33,990 asking price and we’re keen to see if the South Korean can win over some of its Japanese loyal competition.
While the original Elantra started off as a bit of an ugly duckling, time has turned the latest 2019 offering into a lean aggressive styled machine. The front end is dominated by sharp angular design elements that lead back into the flowing lines of the body work. Tucked under the front guards lies a set of 18-inch alloys that look like they’ve been lifted out an industrial food processor and nestled beneath are a set of chunky uprated 305mm brakes.
From the back things get even better thanks to the swooping roof line that finishes into the subtle boot spoiler. Adding a touch of aggressiveness falls to the dual tip styled exhaust and contrasting black inserts.
From every angle the Elantra delivers satisfying visuals and would even fool a few Europeans into thinking it’s a continental native, at a distance of course.
After jumping into the drivers seat the first thing you’ll notice is that everything has been finished in black – the interior designers really didn’t open up the palette for this one. There’s some red stitching that tries to bring in some color but it’s completely overpowered by all of the other materials that get the black finish. Luckily there’s a solution in the form of the red interior option which will jazz things up substantially for a mere $295.
Build quality inside is top notch, no rattles to be found and trim is secured down nicely. Even though there’s a lot of plastic used throughout, the Elantra’s interior both looks and feels great to be in.
Passengers in the rear score ventilation out the back of the centre console and just one cargo net for storage on the back of the passenger seat. ISOFIX mounting points are available along with a set of cup holders and not much else. Room in the back is class average with only headroom lacking due to the sloping roofline. Both the front and rear seats sit quite low and it’s the high window sills of the rear that may have children feeling claustrophobic or motion sick as they’ll struggle to see out the windows.
Work your way back to the boot and you’ll be able to have it open up with just the wave of a foot which is always a neat party trick. Once done there’s a generous 458 litres of cargo space to be used complete with cargo net and anchor points. The 60/40 split rear seats fold down for further capacity should you need it.
Another nice touch is the two cargo pockets that flank the sides allowing you to put small items in there without fear of them rolling around all over the place. The boot floor is low down and there’s a drop from the opening which will make large bulky items all the more likely to tenderise your back muscles.
When you mix in a low driving position with high window sills and thick pillars the end result is limited visibility all round. You’ll struggle to gauge your front corners and it’s the same story for the rear as the large C pillars obscure your view out back and to the sides. Blind spot monitoring and the reverse camera do alleviate things somewhat but they’re no substitute for a clear view.
What Hyundai has nailed is the air conditioning controls which are intuitive and easy to use when on the go. Just 3 simple dials and clearly marked easy to reach switchgear. The layout and ergonomics of all the control surfaces and buttons is spot on and allows you to focus on your driving rather than having to dart your eyes away from the road for visual confirmation, which is all too common on many other manufacturers with their desire to jam as many switches on any interior surface as possible.
Hyundai’s 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is a little cracker, every car it’s put in has been a joy to drive and the Elantra extends that trend. There’s 150kW on offer at 6,000rpm and 265Nm of torque that starts as low as 1,500rpm holding steady to 4,500rpm. When your right foot is planted the rest of you will be planted back in the seat and from a stand still the traction control does a great job of putting the power down. Torque steer is minimised so you can focus on driving rather than fighting the car when you dial the Elantra up for some fun.
Using the shift paddles to give the 7-speed dual clutch transmission a workout is a real treat. It’s snappy and responsive just like you’d expect and the ratios match the powerband to keep the acceleration coming when you need it. Unlike some other dual clutch transmissions, at low speeds there’s no noticeable stuttering and the whole unit allows smooth acceleration at carpark speeds.
There’s 1,420kg of Korean sculpted metal to haul around and I was expecting the fuel economy figures to take a dive with that burden, however not so. We saw a combined rating of 7.1L/100km with a best of 5.4L/100km on the freeways. Impressive and very close to the claimed 7.0L/100km official combined figure, and best of all, it can be had on 91 octane fuel.
The Elantra lures you in with its sharp looks, decent power and a very sporting driving position. Can it back all that up with nimble handling as well? After you’ve dived into a corner the suspension will allow some roll that settles in and from then on you can confidently push through to draw out the g forces.
The ride is on the stiffer side of things and you’ll be feeling more than a few more bumps thanks to the low profile 18-inch 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4’s, which provide plenty of grip and great road feedback. The downside of such an aggressive tyre and wheel combination is increased road noise, however it’s a compromise that’s worth being made for more total grip.
At freeway speeds the dull roar is joined by noticeable wind noise which shouldn’t be too much of a concern unless you intend to keep the stereo flicked off and wish to drive in total silence.
In top spec trim you can expect there to be a solid number of tech toys and features included in the package and Hyundai has made sure it’s a lengthy list indeed.
- 8 speaker DAB+ stereo with amplifier
- Android Auto / Apple CarPlay
- Dual zone climate control
- Alarm with immobiliser
- Rear vision camera
- Cruise control
- Park distance control front and rear
- Electric drivers seat
- Heated front seats
- GPS satellite navigation
- Auto dipping high beam headlights
- LED headlights
- Light sensitive headlights
- Proximity keyless entry and start
- Parking assist
- Power boot
- Heated and folding mirrors
- Selectable driving mode
- Chrome exhaust tips
- Sports pedals
Not a bad collection indeed though a few notes need mentioning. The cruise control only has basic functionality, no speed limited and no radar distance detection either, a shame since we know Hyundai does have that tech available to them in other top spec models. The stereo is a solid unit able to put out audio with volume that won’t distort as it ramps up and is noticeably improved over standard setups.
Safety is of course another high point with the Elantra scoring a full 5-star ANCAP safety rating no doubt thanks to the inclusion of a number of active safety features.
- Blind spot monitoring
- Brake assist
- Forward collision mitigation (low speed)
- Forward collision warning
- Driver attention detection
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Rear cross traffic alert
All great additions to have however I did find myself disabling the lane keep assist since it’s overly aggressive and likes to sit over more to the left of the lane and fights you literally at every turn to keep it there.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Aggressive styling
- Well priced
- Capable and efficient engine
- Aggressive lane keep assist
- Limited visibility
- Road and wind noise
Hyundai has packed a lot of punch into the top spec Elantra package and the competitive price point is sure to grab the attention of many potential new car buyers. The minor sacrifices made in terms of visibility are more than made up for with those sharp looks and the enjoyable driving experience so put the Elantra on your watch list as it won’t disappoint.
2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport Premium DCT Pricing and Specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs)||From: $33,990|
Fiery Red Mica: $495
As tested: $34,485
|Warranty||5 Years/Unlimited Kilometres|
|Warranty Customer Assistance||1 Year Roadside|
|Country of Origin||South Korea|
|Service Intervals||12 months/10,000km|
|Engine||1.6-litre turbo intercooled four cylinder petrol|
150kW @ 6,000rpm, 265Nm @ 1500-4500rpm
|Transmission||7 Speed Dual Clutch Sports Automatic|
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg)||106.0|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km)||Claimed: 7.0 / Tested: 7.1|
|Fuel Capacity (L)||50|
|Body||4-door sedan, 5 seats|
|Safety||5-star ANCAP, 6 Airbags, Seatbelt Load Limiters & Pre-Tensioners (front),|
Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Mitigation (low speed), Forward Collision Warning, Driver Attention Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Camera, Hill Holder, Park Distance Control (front/rear), Anti-Lock Braking System, Brake Emergency Display, Brake Assist, Traction Control, Stability Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm||4620/1800/1440/2700|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,420|
|Boot Space (Expanded) (L)||458 (n/a)|
|Towing Capacity (kg)||Braked: 1100 / Unbraked: 600|
|Entertainment||8.0-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation, 8 speakers, DAB+, Amplifier, Bluetooth, USB/AUX, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay|