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Made in America with European DNA

The new Elantra was recently awarded the North American car of the Year 2012 and the Autobest 2012 award from 15 European countries.

An utterly splendid vehicle for family motorists in Malta
- Hugh Arnett

Since the Elantra appealed to our North American cousins, I feared it would not get an entirely objective report, as I am not exactly enamoured with some of the ‘great’ products that stream from the American car industry.

There was no need to worry, the Elantra slots into the European scene like spaghetti with a Bolognese. It is an entirely friendly five- seat family car, masses of room, both for extended legs as well as long and Americanised body shapes. This is probably why the Americans are so fond of her.

She is a doodle to drive well, utterly responsive to acceleration, braking and twiddling of the steering wheel. Gadgets abound. The driving position once the column had been extended and lowered, and the seat raised was as near perfect as any car that’s come under recent scrutiny.

Partly as a result of a cavernous boot (with an overhang of 970 mm) the car is marginally bigger at 4,530 mm by 1,775 mm width by 1,445 mm overall height than many contemporary five-seat family vehicles designed around European parameters. Distances over the Atlantic can often be somewhat longer than we are used to.

Remember the Elantra has rear seats that fold down so that in two- or three-seat mode some considerable amount of luggage can be carted around without detracting from the pleasures found in driving this car.

It was frankly amazing to drive this car over some unruly, undulating roads in complete comfort even when the local maximum speed had been well and truly reached. Handling was perfect, braking from speed perfect and the general feeling of confidence that this Elantra inspires will satisfy a whole cross section of motorists who need and demand a good-looking, well made, well-functioning and ever-willing workhorse.

The car comes pretty fully specked: ABS brakes with EBD and ESP immediately set the mind at rest about braking functions. The safety built into the passenger cell is a Hyundai speciality, bearing in mind that from the inception of the original Pony, Hyundai was destined for the Canadian market.

Driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags are standard. Seat belts come with pretensioners. Steering is electrically assisted and is tilt and telescopically adjusted. Five headrests help control the dreaded whiplash (responsible for an extra £93 on the UK insurance bill).

We found the reversing sensors particularly useful, as immediate rear view vision is non-existent because of the contemporary wedge shape that is so important in keeping the car aerodynamically able to slice through the air so that petrol consumption is kept pleasantly low.

As most people will have become aware front and rear fog lamps must be part of the original spec, otherwise they infringe local law.

The manufacturer as a standard feature lists these, among others: high mounted third stop light and daytime running lights (allows the Elantra to be seen when visibility is foul).

Tinted glass is standard as are the remote controls on the steering which is just as well as there is a Radio CD MP3 with six-way speakers, USB and auxiliary ports.

We especially liked the leather and cloth seat covers, a great touch like the leather gear change knob and steering. The split rear seats 60:40 actually allow either one or two passengers to sit in the rear when carrying a very decent load.

Electric windows can be found at both the front and rear and outside the electric outside mirrors are heated. Inside the centre console DLX comes with storage and a central armrest and there is a map Light and sunglass case, ideal for those of us always mislaying sunglasses somewhere within the car.

There is a trip computer, a digital clock and outside temperature display and most importantly the vital speedometer, and of slightly lesser importance the rev counter are most easily read on the approach to one of our splendid, money making speed/safety cameras.

All in all this is an utterly splendid vehicle for family motorists in Malta, Continental Europe, even the islanders in the UK, as well as the giant American segment quite rightly praise this Hyundai with actions as well as words.

Verdict

Comfort
It’s very difficult not to be comfortable in this vehicle.

Performance
More than adequate from a 1.6 litre engine.

Cool
The wrong word for a masterly five-seat family car.

Quality
Factually very hard to fault.

At a glance

Top speed
200km/h

0-100km
10.7seconds

Economy
6.4 l/100 km

C02
148g/km

Engine
1591cc, Euro V

Power
132 bhp at 6,300 rpm

Price
€21,950, but starting at €19,950

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