Hyundai Elantra Elite
- It costs: $29, 845
- It has: A 112-kilowatt two-litre four-cylinder with a six-speed auto
- We got: 11 litres per 100km in the city, 7.5 in the country. The official combined figure is 7.2
There are two Elantra models: the base Active, at $24,694 in manual or $27,071 in auto, and the Elite, just shy of $30k. If you can manage it, go for the Elite; the interior is noticeably nicer with richer, more tactile surfaces and an ambience that says quality. For all of that, the Active has everything you need.
It surprised me that there is no navigation option. Hyundai instead asks you to plug in your iPhone and use its mapping, with the map and directions coming up on the in-built centre screen. This is fine only as long as you have phone range.
Otherwise this is a terrific car. The seating is comfortable and supportive, and it’s easy to find the right driving position. But I didn’t like the forward posture of the head restraints, which can’t be tilted back. The dash layout is simple and clear and I liked the generous leg room up front. It’s still pretty good in the back too, but headroom will be an issue here with taller passengers.
One of the things that most impressed me about Hyundai’s luxury car, the Genesis, was the balance achieved between ride and handling. But then a Genesis costs $65k. The surprise is that Hyundai has achieved that same balancing act with the far more price-friendly Elantra.
It corners fast and flat without skipping, it’s predictable and solid. And it’s not just the ride/handling equation, it has beautifully weighted steering and a nicely taut chassis.
When you feel like taking it gently you’ll note the interior is quiet and the fuel economy is pretty good, despite a willing motor and a well-matched six-speed auto that changes down when it should, rather than when it will use the least amount of fuel. It’s brisk away from the lights and it overtakes swiftly.
Among all the sedans between $20k and $30k, this provides about the best driving experience you’ll find, along with heaps of practicality.
- Surprisingly good