Joel Helmes reviews the Hyundai Elantra.
There is little doubt the Kia Optima is the yardstick when it comes to the best Korean built sedan on Australian roads.
We are such big fans of the Optima here at Behind the Wheel that we made it our 2011 Car of the Year.
So when I say that I believe the Hyundai Elantra is on-par with the Optima that’s a big statement.
I might even go a tiny bit further and say the Elantra is even slightly better again, and what tops it off is the Hyundai offering is thousands of dollars cheaper than the big Kia.
In fact you can get into a base model Hyundai Elantra for just over $20,000.
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is that good that I honestly could not find an element of the car that I didn’t like.
There’s simply no aspect of the vehicle that I felt could be improved, this is an absolute first in my car reviews.
I had the mid-spec Elite model and there’s just the one engine available across the Elantra line-up – a 1.8 litre four cylinder petrol.
My review car had the 6 speed auto; you can also get it in 6 speed manual if you want to do it yourself.
The engine and gearbox are as smooth as silk, quiet, plenty of power, and just as importantly fuel efficient using only around a combined 7 litres per 100.
As with the Accent that I checked out last week the Hyundai steering is noticeably lighter than the Kia offerings but in the Elantra it feels perfectly matched to this nicely refined vehicle.
I would nominate the steering in the Elantra as being absolutely spot-on in fact.
Brakes are great, ride is terrific.
External styling is sensational; it’s nothing less than a beautiful car to look at.
Now to the best bit the interior.
The seats offer a great blend of comfort and support, they feel a touch on the soft side when you first make contact but they are as good as seats that you would find in cars with a price tag three times higher.
The dashboard is not only beautiful it’s also extremely well designed and very functional.
Head and leg room are both more than adequate and the Hyundai Elantra has a very good sized boot.
So essentially everything in the Elantra is where it should be, and it does everything it should.
And what’s even better is that there are no options that you need to fork out extra money for, everything is included (albeit except Sat-Nav and a reversing camera which aren’t available).
You could easily take the Hyundai badges off this vehicle and replace them with the mark of a premium European brand and no one would question it.
Repeating once again this is a vehicle that starts at just over $20,000; the Auto Elite (as tested) costs $25,590, the Premium model has just a $28,990 price tag.
Hyundai, full marks the Elantra is a masterpiece 5 out of 5 from me.
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 1.8L four-cylinder petrol delivering 110kW and 178Nm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed auto.
Fuel consumption: 6.6L/100 combined.
Green rating: 4-Star Green Vehicle Guide.
Safety: Not yet ANCAP rated.
Warranty: Five years.
Price: From $20,590