2008 Hyundai Elantra SLX Review
"What sets Elantra apart is value for money"
Spacious, Stylish, Comfortable
Optional ESP, Soft Suspension
- by Matt Brogan
Australia’s current small sedan range is a veritable mire of metal that seemingly offers little difference from one model to the next. It’s little wonder then that most buyers settle for the tried and tested without considering their options and are as a result usually unimpressed with their final decision – and the money they’ve parted with. This needn’t be the case.
Now sure, it’s nothing overly special, after all it’s a sub $25K car, but what sets Elantra apart is the value it delivers for that money, and that’s a tough call to answer.
The model tested is the mid-range SLX, which sits above the entry level SX at $19,990 but below the Elite and range topping Elite S at $28,990. It’s a nice mid-level player and picks up a few extras on the base model (namely climate and some extra air-bags) but misses out on the classy alloy wheels, standard ESP (optional at $990) and fancy interior trimmings that peg the higher models in their place.
The cabin boasts generous proportions both front and rear, flexible luggage space and a comfortable, relaxed driving position in addition to hosting a myriad of features not commonly seen as standard in a car of this price range.
Six Air Bags, ABS, Cruise Control, iPod Connectivity, MP3 compatible CD player, Audio Controls on the Steering Wheel, Climate Control, Electric Mirrors, Power Windows and Speed Activated Remote Central Locking (known as the HALO system) are just some of the features that other manufacturers would have you reaching for your wallet to fit.
Powering the Elantra is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers a modest 105kW, though well calibrated throttle response and a smooth shifting four speed auto make short work of any inadequacies in power, making the little sedan more drivable than the figures would have you believe.
Having compared four such small sedans recently, I’m in good stead to compare the Hyundai to at least some of its competitors, and in the drivability stakes, it really does fare quite well.
The front wheel drive dynamics, whilst typical of the category, do present better balance than some of Elantra’s rivals and although understeer is always going to be present, the threshold at which this occurs is far later and less dramatic than even I expected from such a softly sprung small sedan.
Suspension travel can be a little lofty when unladen, but is very well settled once you have four people and all their bags on board and maintains a reasonably comfortable ride over all but the largest of craters. It’s not as well tuned as the i30 in this respect but the framework is of a different generation and therefore hardly comparable.
Braking is effective enough for a car this size, though the steel wheels and plastic covers do retain a little heat on repeated hard application, making for occasional sponginess after a hard and windy downhill run. The ABS is suitably calibrated to allow enough free play on gravel roads and the pedal feel, whilst not brilliant, is on par with category rivals such as SX4 or Corolla.
Fuel Economy is claimed at 7.8 litres / 100km combined average which wasn’t too far off the mark once tallied up at the end of the week (my overall consumption came in at 8.9l / 100km combined). The lack of a trip computer means a little mental arithmetic is required to keep tabs on your fuel bills, but really if driven lightly the car sips fuel and better results could easily be achieved.
The Elantra scored a three star ANCAP rating and ESP is a cost option, in my books this means losing points. It may seem a little harsh on summation but I feel safety should be paramount.
Whilst three stars is not a terrible result, and a lot of technicalities forced the judge’s hand on this one (pedestrian safety, optional ESP), other manufacturers, and indeed Hyundai themselves, have done a lot better for the money (i30, Corolla, Civic).
In the end, it is a good little car and an ANCAP rating isn’t the end of the world. What you get for the money and the car’s drivability should help tilt the scales.
CarAdvice overall rating:
How does it drive:
How does it look:
How does it go:
Top speed: N/A
Safety: ABS, Dual Front, Side and Curtain Airbags (ESP optional).
ANCAP rating: 3 Stars
Turning circle: 10.3 metres
Fuel tank: 53 litres
Fuel consumption : 7.8 litres / 100km (combined)
Fuel type: Unleaded (regular)
Towing Capacity: 1,200kg (braked)