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After a disappointing first innings, the Elantra makes a stylish comeback
Posted On Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 09:48:31 AM
Think small cars, and the brand that easily comes to mind is Hyundai. So much so that the company has historically had a hard time convincing Indians that it does a lot more than just small city runabouts. The mid-size Accent was one of its most successful models, but it came at a time when options were few.
The models that followed — the new Verna, the new Sonata — have only reaffirmed Hyundai’s maturity as a car manufacturer. The new Elantra is a good example of this view.
Slotted right between the luxurious Sonata and the mid-size Verna, the Elantra competes in a segment crowded with numerous worthy rivals — Volkswagen Jetta, Skoda Laura, Renault Fluence, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis. And the new Elantra is totally different from the model it replaces.
The last Elantra sold in India was two generations old. It was decent to drive, but horrible to look at. With this newest-gen model, Hyundai has gone along with the much-appreciated Fluidic Design theme that now appears on almost all its cars.
At first glance, the new Elantra reminds you of the smaller Verna, but move up close and you get the sense of bigger size. The car makes judicious use of flowing crease lines and folds to achieve a design that looks seamless. It has good road presence, but not as much as a Sonata.
You have the option of either a 1.8-litre petrol engine or a 1.6 diesel, the latter the same as the Verna’s — a robust, quite refined and relatively frugal common-rail diesel unit.
For a car the Elantra’s size, its 126bhp feels a bit short on highways, but through the gears and in the city, its healthy torque is a boon. The petrol unit is relatively new, but if you use the car a lot, stick to the diesel. There’s a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic in both, petrol and diesel. The manual is a better choice, with short, quick shifts.
On the road, the Elantra is a smooth operator. The steering is well-weighted and gives you a good sense of control. Being a biggish car, straightline stability is a given, but even under heavy braking, it doesn’t lose composure easily. No sportscar handling here, but the Elantra doesn’t disappoint. It’s way better than the Verna on this count.
The interior is well-appointed and laid out, with clear dials and buttons. The plastics have a nice soft-touch feel and there’s enough leather around for that exotic feel. Typically, Hyundai prefers predominantly beige interiors, which tend to soil quickly if not taken care of. No complaints on fit-and-finish and you do feel you’re in an executive car.
The new Elantra is a safe buy. There’s enough room for five and their luggage, it looks good, it’s well-appointed, and it’s a decent drive too. Prices are at par with
its rivals but being a Hyundai, it has the edge on service costs. Competition in this segment is hot, but the Elantra appears to be holding the winning cards.
Mercedes R350 CDI
Mercedes has added a new engine to its luxury people mover, the R-Class. Until now, the R-Class was only available in a petrol variant. The new diesel R-Class is powered by a 2987cc turbocharged V6 that puts out 265bhp and 620Nm.
It comes with LED daytime running lights, steel chassis with air suspension in the rear to improve both comfort and driving dynamics. It is priced at 58.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Kawasaki Ninja 650
Bajaj Auto has launched the 2012 edition of the Kawasaki 650. The new version of the 650 has new headlights, fairing and split seats.
The 650 will be available at more than 50 KTM and Kawasaki showrooms across the country. It retails at 5 lakh (ex-Delhi).
This is the third premium sportsbike launched in India after the Ninja 250R and the KTM 200 Duke.
Audi A8 L 4.2 TDi
Audi has added another engine to its flagship limousine, the A8. The new powertrain is the same 4.2-litre diesel engine and 8-speed tiptronic gearbox that drives the Q7. The engine is good for 350bhp and 800Nm of torque.
The new A8 gets a night-vision camera, massage seats and an MMI system with screens for every passenger. The standard non-customised 4.2-litre A8 will be yours for 1.07 crore (ex-Maharashtra).
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