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Hyundai Elantra 2019 review

The Elantra proves that affordable Sedans can still be fun to drive in 2019.
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Hyundai has overhauled its Elantra range, and that means a fresh (and polarising) look and interesting new trim levels. So is it worthy of your attention?

Is there a place for the humble sedan in 2019?

Hyundai seems to think so. And so for 2019 it has overhauled its Elantra range, with a polarising new look and interesting new trim levels.

Is the price right to push the Elantra to the forefront, though? Or is the i30’s less-famous sedan sibling destined to be overlooked?

We’ve spent some time in each of the Elantra’s four variants over the past few months to find out. Read on to see what’s what, and which one is our pick of the range.

Hyundai Elantra 2019: GO
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$23,790

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The Elantra range is made up of four variants split into two price points. But there are also a few small catches to look out for.

Kicking off the range at $21,490 is the Elantra Go. That money buys you a six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic can be had for an extra $2300, and from there you can add the must-have ‘SmartSense’ safety pack for an additional $1700.

The base-model Elantra Go comes in at $21,490 for the manual or $27,390 for the auto. (image credit: Tom White) The base-model Elantra Go comes in at $21,490 for the manual or $27,390 for the auto. (image credit: Tom White)

Standard features on the Go include 15-inch steel wheels, halogen headlamps, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto support, Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera, central locking, and a six-speaker audio system.

Next up is the Active. It starts from $25,990 and is offered exclusively as a six-speed automatic. Again, the must-have SafetySense is an extra $1700. The Active includes a larger 8.0-inch multimedia screen with built-in nav and DAB+ digital radio support, a premium audio system, 16-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured auto-folding wing-mirrors, as well as LED indicators and DRLs.

The Elantra Sport is a significant jump in price and look. (image credit: Tom White) The Elantra Sport is a significant jump in price and look. (image credit: Tom White)

Then there’s a price-jump to $28,990 for the Elantra Sport manual. The Sport gets a significantly overhauled drivetrain and exterior treatment, with a full bodykit, bumper and grille. It also gets a leather interior with slightly sportier seats, aggressive 18-inch alloy wheels clad in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, ‘smart key’ keyless entry with push-button start, full LED front lighting with high-beam assist, and some (but not all) active safety items… More on that in the ‘Safety’ section.

The Sport can be had with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic at a $2500 premium. The other optional extra is  red leather interior ($295), which can be had only when the car is painted white, grey or black.

Speaking of which, all colours (including blue, orange, red and silver) are optional and will cost you $495. White is the only free shade.

At the top of the range is the Elantra Sport Premium ($31,490 manual/$33,990 auto), which adds a sunroof (not the panoramic kind), front parking sensors, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, Qi wireless charging pad, auto-dimming rear mirror and a luggage net in the boot. Not a lot extra for a premium package, but it’s not wildly priced either.

All Elantras get a very good multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well as built-in nav from the Active up. (image credit: Tom White) All Elantras get a very good multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well as built-in nav from the Active up. (image credit: Tom White)

The spread of pricing pitches the Elantra against sedan versions of the Kia Cerato ($21,990 - $32,990), Honda Civic ($22,390 - $33,690) and Subaru Impreza ($22,690 - $29,540).

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Despite being a facelift of the rather good looking 2016 Elantra, the 2019 car has taken a hard turn into the domain of triangles and right-angles.

The new styling has proved controversial in the CarsGuide office. The Go and Active seem to have largely abandoned many of the styling points which Hyundai has invested in over the past few years, with their vertically lined grilles and abundance of triangle light fittings.

The Go and Active grades have few of Hyundai's design language pillars from the outside. (image credit: Tom White) The Go and Active grades have few of Hyundai's design language pillars from the outside. (image credit: Tom White)

All the extra space on the big, flat rear is taken up by the big-font ‘Elantra’ text and Hyundai logo, which is '90s-style in design.

The Sport and identical-from-the-outside Sport Premium are angry looking cars, with frowning LED light fittings, giant alloys and an abundance of angular black highlights.

The side skirts, rear diffuser and spindle grille give the Sport variants an impressive amount of presence on the road. There’s no spoiler to be found, though.

The Sport Premium has a serious amount of presence compared to the Active and Go. (image credit: Tom White) The Sport Premium has a serious amount of presence compared to the Active and Go. (image credit: Tom White)

Inside, the Go and Active are a fairly basic offering, with the Active scoring a leather wheel and some extra niceties. The dash is a sea of grey, however, and the nice touchscreen is humbled by its old-school in-dash positioning.

The Sport grades add some more sophisticated touches, with sporty leather-trimmed seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a more subtle climate-control console rather than the clunky air-conditioning one used in lesser variants.

The Elantra's cabin is a bit monotone, but it is also sensibly laid out. (image credit: Tom White) The Elantra's cabin is a bit monotone, but it is also sensibly laid out. (image credit: Tom White)

All cars have a sensible trip computer and simple gauges in the instrument cluster.

Missing from any variant is a digital dashboard as seen in the Honda Civic. There’s also the argument that the Elantra’s cousin, the Kia Cerato, has a more forward-thinking cabin design.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Up front, the Elantra offers decent room. The Cabin feels a smidge more spacious than its i30 hatch sibling, and there’s plenty of leg and headroom on offer in every variant - except for the sport premium, which has a cropped roofline due to the sunroof. While there’s a decent centre console box, the door lacks a bit of padded trim for your elbow.

The front seats offer a nice amount of room and storage, but they're missing comfortable spots for your elbows. (image credit: Tom White) The front seats offer a nice amount of room and storage, but they're missing comfortable spots for your elbows. (image credit: Tom White)

Like the rest of Hyundai’s range, the Elantra has a slew of generous cubbys and cupholders throughout the cabin. Underneath the air-con console is a deep trench which houses a 12v output, USB port and, in the Sport Premium variant, the Qi wireless phone charging pad.

Rear passengers are granted great legroom and decently sized cupholders in the doors, as well as a drop-down arm rest with two more cupholders.

The Active and Go lack rear air vents, whereas the Sport and Sport Premium offer two for back-seat passengers.

Rear legroom is great across the range, but the amenities are improved in higher specs. (image credit: Tom White) Rear legroom is great across the range, but the amenities are improved in higher specs. (image credit: Tom White)

The available boot space should serve as a reminder why sedans shouldn’t be overlooked for practicality reasons, with 458 litres VDA on offer. Still, it is bested in this segment by the luggage capacity of the Cerato (520L), Civic (517L), and Impreza (460L). A rubber cargo liner and fabric bumper protector are available as genuine accessories.

In an annoying niggle, the Sport variants ride quite low around their midsections due to the flared bodykit bits. I found these would quite easily scrape if you weren’t careful over speedbumps or shopping centre ramps. Go and Active variants were fine in terms of clearance.

As with most sedans, boot space eclipses most small SUVs. The Elantra loses out by a small amount compared to major competitors. (image credit: Tom White) As with most sedans, boot space eclipses most small SUVs. The Elantra loses out by a small amount compared to major competitors. (image credit: Tom White)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

There are two engines in the Elantra range. A dated 2.0-litre non-turbo engine which has hung around for a long time in Hyundai’s stable, and a much newer 1.6-litre turbo engine in higher variants.

The Active and Go get a slightly outdated, but sufficiently powered 2.0-litre. (image credit: Tom White) The Active and Go get a slightly outdated, but sufficiently powered 2.0-litre. (image credit: Tom White)

Unlike the i30, there’s no option for a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel. Any EV and plug-in hybrid versions are still beyond the horizon (perhaps pending the success of the Ioniq).

The Go and Active variants share the 2.0-litre engine which produces 112kW/192Nm. The Go is available as either a six-speed manual or a six-speed traditional torque converter automatic. The Active is six-speed auto only.

The Sport and Sport Premium are powered by the excellent 150kW/256Nm 1.6-litre turbo. Aside from the Kia Cerato GT, which shares the same engine, the next closest competitor at this price point is the outgoing Mazda3 SP25 (139kW/252Nm).

The 1.6-turbo in Sport variants certainly don't lack punch. (image credit: Tom White) The 1.6-turbo in Sport variants certainly don't lack punch. (image credit: Tom White)

The Sport and Sport Premium can either be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and can cycle between ‘normal’, ‘sport’ and ‘eco’ drive modes.

The Elantra range is a strictly front-wheel-drive affair, as there’s no option for all-wheel drive.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

All 2.0-litre Elantras have claimed/combined fuel usage figures of 7.4L/100km. Against this claim I scored a very reasonable 8.0L/100km in my road test of the Active.

The 1.6-litre variants have a marginally better claimed consumption figure of 7.0L/100km against which I scored 9.0L/100km in my test of the Sport. If you’re having fun, expect at least 9.0L or above. That’s a compliment.

All Elantra variants happily consume regular 91RON unleaded and have 50-litre tanks. Good stuff.

Turbo or not, the Elantra happily drinks 91. (image credit: Tom White) Turbo or not, the Elantra happily drinks 91. (image credit: Tom White)

What's it like to drive?   8/10

All Elantra variants are great to drive. They share excellent suspension and steering characteristics, lending them a rewarding experience in the corners while not being too stiff or too soft over bumps.

The 2.0 litre variants offer, well, acceptable power, even if they're a little on the thrashy side, and their ride comfort is boosted by sensibly sized alloy wheels and soft rubber.

Sport variants are genuinely a blast to drive. The 1.6-litre turbo has small amounts of lag, but is otherwise strong through 1500-4500rpm. Torque steer is present but manageable, and even adds a little to the excitement.

Thick (and pricey) Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (225/40R18s) help keep the Elantra Sport planted and surprisingly grippy through the corners.

Sport variants come with grippy, aggressive rubber. Keep in mind how much replacement tyres will cost... (image credit: Tom White) Sport variants come with grippy, aggressive rubber. Keep in mind how much replacement tyres will cost... (image credit: Tom White)

Road noise is acceptable but not stellar across the range. The same goes for the 10.6-meter turning circle.

Truly gone are the days where you should question whether Korean cars can be fun; the Sport and Sport premium do a better job of channeling the characteristics of Japanese sports sedans of the '90s and '00s better than most current Japanese nameplates.

On the downside, the silly flared body kit on the Sport variants limit ground clearance on ramps or speedbumps and can be prone to bottoming out. This combines with the easily scratched giant wheels to make for some nervous driving.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Go and Active variants have no active safety features as standard, but can be equipped with the very worthwhile $1700 safety pack.

Included is auto emergency braking (AEB), which detects pedestrians and works up to freeway speeds, blind-spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), active cruise, lane departure warning (LDW) and lane-keep assist (LKAS).

Most of these features come standard on the Sport and Sport Premium grades, with the omission of active cruise control and pedestrian detection. This is because the Sport grades lack a radar system.

Radar safety is optional on lower variants, wheras sport variants miss out on active cruise altogether. (image credit: Tom White) Radar safety is optional on lower variants, wheras sport variants miss out on active cruise altogether. (image credit: Tom White)

Standard safety includes six airbags and the regular suite of electronic stability and traction controls, as well as two ISOFIX and three top-tether child seat mounting points across the rear seats.

The Elantra carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of 2016.

As a bonus, Go and Active variants have matching full-size spare wheels under the boot floor. Sport and Sport Premium cars have space savers.

The Elantra is built in South Korea.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Hyundai covers its range with an on-par five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty promise offered by most of the competition. It is outdone by its mechanical twin, the Kia Cerato,with its seven-year warranty.

Hyundai's warranty terms are up-to-date, and the running costs are not particularly expensive. (image credit: Tom White) Hyundai's warranty terms are up-to-date, and the running costs are not particularly expensive. (image credit: Tom White)

Hyundai’s fixed service program is one of its strong suits, with service pricing on turbo Elantra models locked between reasonable $273 to $460 costs per visit, locked all the way out to 168 months/210,000 kilometres. And even beyond that there's the optional pre-paid ‘iCare’ packages. Costs are slightly less for 2.0-litre cars.

Verdict

The Elantra might be overlooked compared to its famous i30 stablemate, but it shouldn’t be. It’s every bit as entertaining to drive and just as well equipped.

It’s a shame active safety is on the option list for lower trim levels, and there’s no radar features on higher ones, and the unnecessary styling changes might polarise buyers. But the Elantra is otherwise a well-equipped and rewarding-to-drive package across the range.

Would you consider the Elantra over a Japanese competitor? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$27,888
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$21,490
Highest Price
$34,285

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Active 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $25,990 2019 Hyundai Elantra 2019 Active Pricing and Specs
Active 2.0 MPi 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,250 2019 Hyundai Elantra 2019 Active 2.0 MPi Pricing and Specs
ACTIVE SMARTSENSE 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $27,690 2019 Hyundai Elantra 2019 ACTIVE SMARTSENSE Pricing and Specs
Elite 2.0 MPi 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $26,990 2019 Hyundai Elantra 2019 Elite 2.0 MPi Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership8
Tom White
Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$23,790

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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