The petrol Elantra automatic is powered by a new 1999cc naturally aspirated petrol motor which is good for 152bhp. The motor is quite smooth and its free revving nature helps you make good progress. Although it is a bit weak at lower revs, the torque converter does a good job of masking this. There is a nice step-up in power past 3000rpm and the motor really gets in its stride past 5000rpm all the way to the redline. This lends the motor a nice linear power delivery, which makes it relaxing to drive. The big news is the automatic gearbox though, it is a heavily reworked version of the six-speed torque converter found on the old car. You also get ‘Eco’ ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ modes which alters the way the gearbox behaves. While driving in ‘Eco’ mode, the gearbox upshifts early, maintaining a relatively low engine speed in a bid to improve fuel economy. A dab on the throttle gets it moving quite nicely, and when driven like this, it is quite adept at mixing in with other traffic. In ‘Normal’ mode the gearbox responds to your right foot even better and this makes it ideal for highway usage. The ‘Sport’ mode feels perfect for spirited driving as the gearbox is light on its feet, as it downshifts near the redline even at the slightest dab on the throttle. But for normal use this mode doesn’t work too well as the gearbox also tends to get confused and keeps the engine too high up in the rev range. The engine does get a bit noisy post 4000rpm, but never to the point of being unbearable. Other than that, this motor is quite refined and driving the Elantra is a soothing experience thanks to its great its sound insulation. We tested the Elantra petrol A/T and found it covered the 0-100kmph in a decent 10.7seconds. Although good on its own, it is quite a bit slower than the Skoda Octavia 1.8Tsi.
The Elantra CRDI, on the other hand, has the same 1.6-litre diesel unit as the old car. The Elantra’s engine makes 126bhp of power and 260Nm of torque from a low 1900rpm. Unlike the petrol, the diesel doesn’t get the updated gearbox so it feels noticeably slower to shift and respond. On first impressions, the Elantra diesel auto doesn’t feel all that quick as it accelerates in an extremely linear and relaxed manner. In slower traffic, it feels stress-free to drive thanks to the auto-box which eliminates some of the throttle lag present in the manual version. On the highway, the Elantra cruises nicely too and there’s more than adequate power for overtaking. The Elantra is much quicker than it feels. It goes from 0-100kph in just 11.04sec, which is around the same as the old car. Another strong point of the Elantra diesel is its fantastic engine refinement. Except for some vibrations at idle, the engine is extremely quiet and it maintains its composure even when worked hard.
But where the Elantra has improved the most is in terms of its ride. Over any surface, at speed, the Elantra felt unfazed and the refined suspension simply goes about its job, keeping you isolated from the biggest of potholes. It’s only at low speeds that you feel some stiffness and the sharp bumps do jar you a bit. But here too we are being picky rather than critical. We drove the car on the East coast road, off Chennai. With hardly any corners to speak of, it was difficult to assess its handling prowess. But first impressions are pretty positive. The steering felt surprisingly direct and the Elantra felt rock steady at high speeds too. Hyundai, thanks to the improved chassis, has definitely taken big steps in this respect. On the downside the brake pedal feel is a bit wooden and a more linear feel would have been welcomed.