Mazda 3 2018 review
Mazda's mainstay 3 hatch and sedan have just had their annual update and the lower reaches have scored new safety goodies and a few welcome extras.
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If you're looking for a small sedan, you're not alone. Despite the fact the main focus in the small car segment seems to revolve around five-door hatchbacks, four-door sedans such as the Hyundai Elantra still play a decent role in meeting the needs of buyers.
And this one is the most affordable version, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Active, which offers a lot for buyers who are on a tight budget and need a spacious small sedan.
|Hyundai Elantra 2018: Active 2.0 MPi|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
There's a big update coming soon for the Elantra, so the 2018 version is the last that will wear this rather conservative design language. It's not offensive, but nor is it overly attractive - especially in this entry-level spec.
You've got to like the fact Hyundai fits 16-inch alloy wheels to even its base model car, and you get a full-size spare wheel, too. And the LED daytime running lights add a bit of modern bling, but they're backed by halogen lamps, which aren't modern or blingy.
The shape of the Elantra is sleek, and it looks a bit old-school in comparison to Hyundai's newer models… a bit like its bigger brother, the Sonata. Neither are as eye-catching as some of the brand's SUVs (the Santa Fe and Kona, namely) and the Elantra's small hatchback sibling, the i30, is more European looking, and just better looking in general.
It's equal parts unassuming and unremarkable, and that could be exactly what you want. But for me, there are better looking small sedans out there, like the Renault Megane - which, even as a base grade, looks more expensive than it is.
The 'small car' category can be misleading, because some models - like this Elantra - have a lot more space than that tag suggests.
Seriously, the space on offer in the Elantra is better than some mid-sized models in the next class up - specifically, vehicles like the Mazda 6, which don't boast as much back seat room or boot capacity as you might expect them to.
If you have a family of four, you will find the Elantra to be fine and dandy in terms of space - even if you have tall teens. My 182cm frame slotted in behind my own driving position with ease: there's enough leg and shoulder room, and while three across may be a squeeze, parents will appreciate the fact there are window-seat ISOFIX attachments and three top-tether points. No rear air-vents is a bit of a downer.
There's access to storage elements like a mesh map pocket in the back seat, plus a flip-down armrest with cupholders and bottle holders in the back doors. The front has excellent storage, with a big cubby in front of the gear selector, bottle holders in the doors and big cupholders between the seats, plus a covered centre arm rest and decent glove box.
The boot, too, is generous. Hyundai claims 458 litres (VDA) for the cargo capacity, making it larger than a Mazda 3 sedan (408L) and Holden Astra sedan (445L). And you can lower the back seats in a 60/40 formation if you need extra load-through space, but there is a lip to contend with if you are carting long items.
Annoyingly, the boot doesn't get a button to open it remotely - so, you need to have a hand free and the key with you to open it, or you can open it from inside. But no release on the boot lid is a spectacular bit of cheapness. And not cheap in a good way.
So, it's spacious and (mostly) thoughtful, but is it special? Er, not really. The Elantra Active feels like an entry-level car, but the materials are all of a high standard, the controls feel good in the hand, and the media display - a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, plus USB connectivity and Bluetooth. No sat nav, though - not on any Elantra, in fact.
Hyundai has a good reputation for offering decent value for money, and while the Elantra did that when it launched, the market has moved on somewhat.
You still get a generous list of standard equipment, such as a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, auto headlights, heated side mirrors, and that 7.0-inch media screen with smartphone mirroring tech.
Things you can forget about include keyless entry, push-button start, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto wipers, leather trim for the steering wheel and seats, seat heating, seat cooling, LED headlights, climate control, sat nav… so, it's not overly well equipped. So what does it cost?
The list price for the Active manual is $21,950, and the auto version tested here has an asking price of $24,250. Shop around, though - you shouldn't have to pay that. Deals are pretty common, and it's not unusual to see Active auto sedans for less than $20,000 drive-away… so, maybe the list price isn't a market leader, but the transaction prices can be very tempting, indeed.
Good on Hyundai for offering a wide array of colours - the Active is available in 'Polar White' as you see here at no extra cost, but 'Iron Grey', 'Fiery Red', 'Platinum Silver', 'Marina Blue', 'Stargazing Blue' and 'Phantom Black' will add $495 to the asking price. You will need to choose the SR spec if you want 'Phoenix Orange' or 'Blazing Yellow' paint.
The Elantra Active and Elite models are powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 112kW (at 6200rpm) and 192Nm (at a high 4700rpm). This is one of Hyundai's older engines, featuring multi-point injection rather than direct injection, and power outputs that are pretty low for the class.
It's available with the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, though hardly anyone goes for the manual.
Our pick is the Elantra SR, which gets a much zestier high-tech 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder with 150kW/265Nm, and it has a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Fuel use is claimed at 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the manual version of the 2.0-litre, and 7.2L.100km for the auto. On test - which saw us primarily use the Elantra as a commuter from the Blue Mountains to Sydney, including some dense traffic and stop-start driving, we saw 7.5L/100km. Not bad.
The Elantra has a 50L fuel tank capacity, and if you wish, you can run it on 91RON unleaded fuel or E10.
If you want the zestiest Elantra experience, you really ought to look at the SR model - it has a perkier turbo engine, smarter transmission and model-specific tune to its suspension and steering. It's a proper menace.
That's not to say the regular Elantra isn't good to drive, though. Its engine and transmission are perfectly adequate for this type of car at this price point, but some competitors are moving towards offering punchy turbo drivetrains across their small-car lines, such as the Ford Focus and Renault Megane.
Even so, the drivetrain gets the Elantra along with decent ease, and while it can shuffle through gears a bit more than necessary at times. If you do a lot of highway kays, you'll barely notice it - but in slower-going commuting, or hilly country roads, you may be annoyed by the overactive auto.
If those hilly country roads have twisty sections, you may be surprised how well the Elantra handles itself in corners. Hyundai tunes all of its cars to suit local conditions, and typically the company has a bit of a tendency towards making the body feel quite controlled, and therefore it can be stiff over potholes and so on.
But the pay-off is taut suspension that limits rolling in corners, and it does a good job on bumpy country roads, too. Our base spec Active came with Kumho Ecowing tyres on 16-inch alloys, and the grip was fine, but not exceptional.
The steering is great at higher speeds, and decent at low speeds, too. But you might notice it can be a little heavy at times, particularly when you slow down from highway speed and turn into a side street (as I do everyday on my commute).
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Part of the reason Hyundai will sell an updated version of the Elantra for 2019 is because it doesn't really meet today's standards of safety gear - even though it scored the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test rating when it was tested in 2016.
The version on sale since then hasn't been available with auto emergency braking (AEB) or forward collision warning, and also misses out on some increasingly common items like adaptive cruise control and auto high-beam headlights. Many competitors have the Elantra's measure when it comes to standard safety equipment.
But if you like the design of this model, you can get blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert if you opt for the SR variant. The Active and Elite go without, and you can't option the stuff, either.
But you do get the bare minimum reversing camera and rear parking sensors on the Active (including dynamic guidelines, so you can see where you're steering input will lead you), plus all Elantra models have six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain).
Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for all of its models, which is becoming par for the course for a lot of brands. Hyundai was one of the first to adopt this, and it remains strong, but not as eye-catching as it once was.
The company does, however, go further than some competitors, offering a capped-price service plan that spans the life of the car. And it's an affordable ownership set-up, too.
Service intervals are every 12 months/15,000km for the non-turbocharged models (with an average cost per service of just $279), while turbo models need maintenance every 12 months/10,000km (cost: $277 on average).
And if you get your service done at one of Hyundai's authorised dealers, you can also get up to 10 years' roadside assist.
|Active||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$18,040 – 22,880||2018 HYUNDAI ELANTRA 2018 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Active 2.0 MPi||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$18,450 – 22,485||2018 HYUNDAI ELANTRA 2018 Active 2.0 MPi Pricing and Specs|
|Active 2.0 MPi||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$16,990 – 24,250||2018 HYUNDAI ELANTRA 2018 Active 2.0 MPi Pricing and Specs|
|ACTIVE SMARTSENSE||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$21,970 – 27,690||2018 HYUNDAI ELANTRA 2018 ACTIVE SMARTSENSE Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||6|
“The Hyundai Elantra Active is a good buy if you’re after a small sedan that will do its duty diligently while being backed by a strong ownership plan. So, if you like it, and you can get a good deal, it might be a contender for you.”
Would the lack of AEB rule out a car for you? Let us know in the comments section below.