The Hyundai Elantra is an attractive and affordable option in the small segment, with the usual Hyundai strong points and versatile day-to-day usability.
If you’re thinking the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Active looks like it's been around for a while, you’d be right – it has been with us in its current form for a few years now. The small-car segment is an interesting one for Hyundai in Australia too, with both the i30 hatch and Elantra fighting it out for sales.
We already know the i30 is an excellent car, so how does the Elantra stack up in a segment that has seen something of a resurgence? Strong small-car contenders include the Ford Focus, Holden Astra, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf.
It seems we’re writing it all the time now, but this is a seriously competitive segment in Australia – more people are looking at it as an option now too – and the aforementioned contenders all mount a strong case in their own way to attract buyers.
Visit our full pricing and specification section for the Elantra model-grade breakdown.
Our test vehicle is the 2018 Hyundai Elantra 2.0 Active, with pricing that starts from $24,250 before on-road costs. The only option here is metallic paint, which adds $495 to the starting price. Competitive pricing in a competitive segment then, so that’s a good start.
The Active serves as the entry point to a three-grade range, with the mid-grade Elite starting from $26,990 and the range-topping SR Turbo starting from $28,990. The Active and Elite are both powered by a 2.0-litre engine, while the SR gets a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder. Our tester had a six-speed automatic, but there is also a six-speed manual available.
We had an interesting return with the fuel consumption too. The ADR claim for the 2.0-litre engine is 7.2L/100km, but the best we could get was 11.0L/100km. Granted that was all around town, and the figure drops down dramatically on the highway, but we’d like to be able to get less than 11.0L/100km from a vehicle in this segment. Our test vehicle had less than 5000km on it too, so it should get more efficient as it runs in.
If you’ve owned or driven a Hyundai of late, the Elantra’s cabin will be familiar to you in that it follows the recent Hyundai theme. The switchgear and controls are well laid out, really easy to decipher, and large enough that you don’t need a magnifying glass to work out what does what. The infotainment system (despite having a smallish 7.0-inch screen) is likewise easy to use, and we found CarPlay worked faultlessly during our week of testing.
Our tester didn’t have Hyundai’s quality proprietary navigation system, but armed with a smartphone link and enough data, you’ll be fine in that regard, and I find I’m using my phone’s mapping more and more regardless of whether the factory has fitted a standard system. We tested Bluetooth too, and that was faultless for both phone calls and audio streaming. The steering wheel controls work well and are neatly organised, and we like the hidden bin for iPods or phones when they are connected to the USB input.
The theme for me inside the cabin is space – and plenty of it. That goes for people and storage. There’s a massive amount of room for the class either in the front seats or the second row, and the boot is huge too. You could easily use the Elantra as a daily driver for a family of four. The Elantra's cabin is quiet too, and more insulated than some cheaper variants in this segment. In fact, it’s more insulated than some of the more expensive options in other segments.
There are huge door pockets, a useful console bin, plenty of flexibility for charging and connecting devices, and the excellent seats are trimmed in fabric that feels like it will be hard-wearing. While the front row is well catered for, the second row doesn’t get air vents or charging points, though. The second-row bench is comfortable, however, with a decent contour to the squab and backrest, and plenty of head room makes for good visibility both front and rear.
Forward three-quarter visibility is expansive once you get comfortable in the driver’s seat, and you’re quickly reminded of just how useful this segment is around town. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable and the steering wheel is both height and reach adjustable too. The Elantra is a pretty solid example of why buyers don’t love the large-car segment as much as they used to. It’s roomy inside but compact outside, making it easy to zip through congested streets, execute a quick three-point turn, or nail a neat reverse park under pressure.
As we’ve come to expect, the engine and gearbox pairing is excellent too. While the SR would be the performance pick with its turbo engine, the 2.0-litre is smooth and, to my mind at least, powerful enough for the labour of daily work. The gearbox works well too, shifting smoothly either up or down through the ratios, and there’s nothing that even hints at a jerk or shudder under any kind of load. All round, the Elantra is a lovely small sedan to drive in traffic. As noted above, we’d like to see a lower fuel figure, but aside from that, there’s nothing but quality to report from the drive experience.
As ever, thanks to a local suspension tune, the ride and handling package under the Elantra is near perfect. We love the way Hyundais roll around town effortlessly, soaking up the worst that our urban road network can throw their way, and the Elantra is no different. There’s no banging, crashing, and it settles particularly quickly, even over sharp, raised speed platforms.
The steering and braking are also both as good as you’d hope for, with the steering especially benefitting from the way the Elantra settles quickly on poor surfaces. It is beautifully weighted at parking speeds, and doesn’t feel floaty at highway speed either. I actually like the fact that the steering isn’t quite as light as some others in the segment at low speed. It’s got a solid feel to it, which I’m a big fan of.
The Hyundai Elantra is covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty and benefits from a capped-price servicing plan as well. On the safety front, it gets the full five-star ANCAP rating, and standard inclusions are six airbags, ABS, ESC, LED DRLs, a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors and auto headlights. There’s no autonomous emergency braking in the Elantra range, though.
While the 2018 Hyundai Elantra is a basic car in some ways, it doesn’t feel cheap in any way, and it actually feels like a segment size bigger than it is. It’s a good thing to drive, and benefits from an excellent warranty and servicing plan.
You might be thinking about a small SUV like everyone else, but don’t rule the small-car segment out. And definitely don’t rule the Elantra out. It’s a quality offering.