We’ve been anticipating the arrival of the 7th-generation Elantra ever since Hyundai Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) started teasing the all-new Sonata. After all, the model has been a longstanding member of the brand’s Malaysian line-up, and will again be taking jabs at other C-segment entrants.
The brand’s local distributors have dropped a teaser image showing the car’s front end, emphasising its more aggressive swept back headlights and busy grille. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying text or any other information to be extracted here. HSDM just wants everyone to have ‘Elantra’ in mind as they build up to a larger marketing push prior to launch.
Against rivals like the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Toyota Corolla, the newest Elantra certainly leans more heavily on its exterior design to make a first - and lasting - impression. It’s almost more polygon than car with its many geometric character lines, a stark departure from the smooth-flowing contours of its D-segment bigger brother.
We didn’t know what the South Korean equivalent to origami is, so a friend of mine thought the design inspiration must’ve come from an unfolded paper aeroplane. Sounds pretty accurate, though I’d add that the copious exterior creases do lend themselves very well to a sportier treatment such as that found on the N-Line variant.
Over the previous Elantra (AD) sold in Malaysia, this version is built on the an all-new K3 platform that will also underpin the upcoming Hyundai i30, contributing to its overall larger footprint. Dimensionally, the car is substantially longer by 55mm from nose to tail, within which it sports a 20mm longer wheelbase. Its body is also 25mm wider than before while its roof peaks 20mm lower.
This partly leads to a roomier cabin that does take some cues from the Sonata with many more horizontal elements at play. Overall, it looks like Hyundai is looking to tinge the Elantra with some semi-premium flair through more elegant shapes and softer, more luxurious materials.
Typical for Hyundai and Kia cars, the touchscreen infotainment screen (up to 10.25-inches) is again perched at the top of the centre stack, but this time its housing is moulded into the instrument binnacle, which can be had in digital form via another 10.25-inch screen. The HVAC and steering wheel controls are the only concentration of buttons facing the driver for a more minimal foreground view.
Even the air conditioning vents are integrated behind a single extended grille element to further reduce visual clutter. Oddly, the upcoming next-generation Honda Civic's dash will also feature a similar design.
Elsewhere the Elantra can be equipped pretty generously. Hyundai includes its active safety suite (SmartSense) with all the usual suspects such as AEB and Lane Keep Assist. Some markets receive the option of an 8-speaker Bose audio system, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and fancy interior ambient lighting with 64 colour options in addition to an even more comprehensive list of safety features.
This 7th-gen Elantra isn’t going to blow your socks off with its engine range, though. There is a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder from the Smartstream family, producing 160PS and 191Nm. Other options include a smaller displacement 1.6-litre NA units, one with a turbocharger for 204PS and 265Nm, or an Ioniq-style parallel hybrid with 120PS.
Aside from Ulsan in South Korea, regional manufacturing and assembly of the Elantra is also carried out in the United States and China, so we’re unsure if the car would arrive fully imported or in CKD form upon launch. Speaking of which, HDSM only has a little more than a month to cram in a launch ahead of the SST discount period which ends at the end of December 31st.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.