Hyundai introduces its top-selling car worldwide, the fifth-generation Elantra, pitching it as its first million-a-year model and predicting it will be New Zealand's top-selling compact sedan by 2013.
What's new This step up from the i30 hatch continues Hyundai's "fluidic sculpture" theme with strong lines for the body with its swooping head and tail-lights.
Hyundai cites wind-carved rock and sand - look at the car and you can see the link. Like the strong lines or not, this is a fresh model full of character inside and out.
It's efficient, too. The long, sleek, low profile results in a super-slippery drag coefficient of 0.28, the better aerodynamics repaid in terms of fuel economy.
New Zealand's three variants are powered by a 110kW/176Nm 1.8-litre fuel-injected petrol engine matched to a six-speed auto transmission drinking a claimed 7.1l/100km That's five more kilowatts and 0.7l/100km less fuel than the outgoing 2.0-litre engine which was 33kg heavier.
Hyundai attributes this to dual continuously variable timing, electronic throttle control and a double-pipe internal heat exchanger. You start to see where the $350 million development cost has gone.
A wheelbase 50mm longer than its predecessor has benefitted interior space for this handsome cabin while a design sleight-of-hand cut 35mm from overall height without affecting headroom.
The range opens at $35,990 including six airbags, stability control, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free and 16-inch alloy wheels. Add four grand for the Elite with push-button start, 17-inch wheels, heated leather seats, and auto lights. You pay another two grand for the LTD with its sun roof.
That prices it alongside the Corolla, with the bracket's best-selling Holden Cruze starting out a good five grand cheaper. However Elantra beats both for power, weight, spaciousness and boot capacity.
The company line The general manager for Asia Pacific marketing, Jin-Young Park, says the Elantra is the model he's most proud of because it is easier to design an expensive car than to get a successful trade-off between all the elements required in a budget vehicle. The compact sedan segment is growing faster than the market. Hyundai aims to top Holden's Curze tally at 1550 sales last year, says chief operating officer Tom Ruddenklau.
What we say The Elantra is a striking car from any angle, and most handsome from the front. The cabin looks fresh, feels spacious and delivers excellent ergonomics. It has a full suite of safety aids and Hyundai is confident of a five-star crash test rating.
On the road Our launch drive was limited to a quick drive to Fieldays and back, this brief taster promising a quiet and refined cruiser, a competent engine and confident handling over everyday roads at everyday speeds.
Why you'll buy one You'll buy one because its smart, fresh design, generous specification and roomy cabin for the bracket all appeal.
Why you won't The design's too modern for your conservative taste.