Hyundai’s lineup of crossovers and SUVs pretty much covers the entire size spectrum from the cute Venue to the massive Palisade. This shift in product strategy is expected, considering the demand for these high-riding family vehicles. But with the launch of the all-new Elantra in West Hollywood in California, the Korean automaker has just indicated that it isn’t giving up on the humble sedan just yet.
Hyundai’s compact sedan appears to have been inspired by the Prophecy concept car’s styling. Instead of smooth curves, the brand’s Sensuous Sportiness design language concentrates on acute angles and sharp edges. The bodywork is adorned with handsome creases that give it a distinctive look. In fact, the press statement describes the Elantra’s styling as that of a gem with its sculpted body panels.
Just like its bigger brother, the Sonata, the Elantra adopts a coupe-like profile instead of the traditional sedan look. But it’s not just because of the way the roof smoothly swoops down toward the trunk. The new Elantra is all about the details. The large radiator grille and the headlamp assemblies blend together as one unit. Instead of a power bulge, the hood has several stylish folds. The car also has a muscular rear shoulder line accented by a light bar that seems to be in vogue these days.
It’s just as inviting to sit in one, too. Occupants enjoy more legroom courtesy of Hyundai’s K3 platform, which focuses on making the cabin feel spacious by shortening the front and rear overhangs. The cockpit-like dashboard will encourage the driver to dive into corners with gusto, which will then make the front passenger hang on to the grab handle mounted on the center console.
The all-new Elantra also takes connected cars up a notch. While its infotainment system comes equipped with Hyundai’s Blue Link cloud-based system and voice control, it’s the implementation of its phone integration feature that takes the cake. Smartphones can now connect with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto wirelessly, allowing compatible devices to stay put on the wireless charging pad instead of being hooked up to the car via messy cables.
Another neat feature of the car is the digital key. While the car still has a traditional key, the digital key allows the vehicle to be used through a dedicated Android mobile app (apologies to Apple users for now). The nature of this functionality enables Elantra owners to create various user accounts with their own virtual key, which can be configured with varying degrees of accessibility and duration for use by other people. Hyundai says the Elantra is the first in its class to have this convenience feature. There’s also a valet card, so the car can be left with confidence at service centers and with parking attendants.
This new-generation Elantra is the model’s first iteration to come with a hybrid powertrain, which the K3 platform is also built for. Customers can opt for the standard 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine rated at 147hp and 179Nm, or get the gasoline-electric combo. The Elantra Hybrid gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder mill paired with a 32kW permanent-magnet electric motor. Combined output and torque figures are 139hp and a healthy 264Nm, respectively. This hybrid setup is mated to a dual-clutch transmission and can be driven using just the electric motor at low speeds.
The Elantra is also apparently safer than ever before. While the K3 base in itself already boasts improved crash performance and more dynamic driving manners engineered into it, the car also comes with a generous suite of driver aids as part of the standard SmartSense bundle—forward-collision avoidance, lane-keep assist and driver-attention warning, among others. Optional extras include blind-spot collision avoidance, smart cruise control and a warning system for opening the doors.
The new Elantra is now kitted out so well that it almost rivals any SUV in its manufacturer’s catalog. However, it’s in a package that is a lot more exciting to drive than any crossover in Hyundai’s stable. That in itself is one reason we believe sedans are here to stay.