Its 6pm and thanks to the year-end rush the streets of Delhi are choked and I am 50 kms away from home. Thankfully I have the right weapon of choice- the Hyundai Elantra. Though ideally I would have liked the auto, the smooth 6-speed manual seems perfect for the job. Right, time to get going. It seems the Elantra starts its visual assault right from the first instance when you set your eyes on it.
It been some time since it has been launched but the Hyundai Elantra looks fresh as a daisy even today and we no qualms in saying it is the best looking car in its class. The whole car is just a riot of curves and looks stunning especially in this shade of Maharajah Red. The best example of the 'Fluidic Scuplture' the Elantra looks the best when seen from the side or from the front.
Enough looking around now and time to get in and here there is a lot to take in here. The dash and general design is very futuristic and quite busy but special mention must go to the quality which is really good. The best bit though is the sheer amount of features that Hyundai have crammed in. 10-way adjustable power driver seat, climate control, rear AC vents, cruise control, push button start, automatic headlamps, USB, AUX-in, iPod cable & Bluetooth, steering controls, rear view camera and more!
The Elantra knocks its rivals out of the park in this department for sure. Thanks to the coupe like roof rear visibility is a bit restricted so the rear view camera really helps here. Space is very good and at the rear there is good amount of legroom and just enough headroom, special mention must go to the fact that there are rear seat controls too.
Poking around the cabin has meant that now I am late and need to get going. There is no place to exercise the 126 bhp 1.6 diesel engine so while crawling in the traffic, I get to other positive aspect of the Elantra which is it being so easy to drive.
As said earlier I am in the 6-speed manual and the clutch is really light plus the gearbox is smooth and well placed for easy access. The steering is very light and that means I am driving it like a big hatch. There is a bit of turbo lag here but the gearbox comes to the rescue here. Refinement is superb though.
Next morning and time for the photo shoot so I have to pick photographer Rajeev and head towards Gurgaon. Being a sunday meant that I had relatively open roads at my disposal and the Elantra felt quick. Once in the highway however what played spoilsport was the overly light steering though at high speeds the stability was good. We have to say the Elantra has the best ride/handling combo of all the Hyundai's but is not quite the enthusiast's choice.
When it comes to fuel efficiency the official figure stands at 22.7 kmpl and in our tests the Elantra, despite some hard driving, gave 15 kmpl. At a starting price of Rs 12.8 lakh for the base manual petrol, the Elantra offers excellent value. The diesel range starts at Rs 13.3 lakh and goes all the way to Rs 16.2 lakh which is less than its competition.
The Elantra ticks all the boxes that a luxury midsize sedan buyer wants and needs with its stunning looks, bulging equipment list and easy to drive nature. We recommended the diesel version as the efficiency makes it worth it and has enough performance. So overall the most desirable Hyundai in India gets a big thumbs up from us.
Words-Somnath Chatterjee Photography-Rajeev Bhendwal