|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
What you see here is the 2015 Elantra, a car so minimally refreshed, you actually have to park it beside a 2012 model to appreciate. Hyundai took a huge gamble introducing its “Fluidic Sculpture” lingo before, here not so much. The changes are fairly limited to the usual suspects: new headlights with LED park lights (not DRLs), new rear lamps, reshaped bumpers, and new alloy wheels. Don’t get the Elantra wrong. It still looks nice and fresh for what’s essentially a three-year model, but don’t you just wish Hyundai took a big gamble on the re-design like they did three years ago?
This year, Hyundai is changing their trim naming convention. From the previous GL and GLS trims, they’ve now introduced a Toyota-esque single letter designation to tell trims apart. The new bottom-end models are ‘E’, the mid-range ones are ‘S’, and the range-toppers are ‘L’. This particular Dazzling Blue unit represents the mid-grade 1.6 S and can be differentiated with its high-gloss chrome grille insert. Aside from that, there’s not much to talk about: 205/55R16 tires, side mirror turn signal repeaters, and that’s about it.
Inside, it’s a pretty bleak scenario with the Elantra losing its telescopic steering adjustment for the steering wheel (now available only for the L variants). Though driver comfort has been somewhat compromised, the overall comfort is still there. You just have to get used to sitting closer to the steering wheel than before. The interior is best summed up as ‘fifty shades of gray’ with literally everything covered in 50 gray scale tones. The entire center portion of the dash has been ripped out and replaced with one with better A/C vent placement and clearer controls for the climate and audio system. On the subject of the audio system, sadly, the 1.6 S takes a step back by eliminating the de rigueur USB input. It doesn’t even have an aux jack! In this day and age where optical drives are being removed from laptops, Hyundai sees to it that your driving tunes only come from a CD (at least it plays MP3s).
Three years ago, it’s the roomiest one in the compact sedan segment, today it might have lost that distinction, but it’s still good for five adults with elbow and knee room to spare. That said, the rear center occupant still has to make do with a two-point lap belt. And get this: P 1,008,000 doesn’t even get you ISOFIX child seat anchors. The trunk is flat and roomy with 419 liters of space and the rear seats do fold for added cargo space, just not in a 60/40 split.
Under the hood, the 2015 Elantra 1.6 S continues with its tried-and-tested Gamma DOHC D-CVVT 4-cylinder engine with 130 horsepower and 156 Nm of torque. And though you can get it with a row-it-yourself 6-speed manual, this engine is best suited to Hyundai’s smooth shifting 6-speed automatic. The automatic is adept at adjusting to your driving requirements and makes the Elantra feel like it’s equipped with a larger engine. It still doesn’t like full throttle applications, but treat it sensibly, and it will progress very, very well. The Elantra was already a quiet commuter to start with, but the updated version offers an even more serene experience. It easily tops the competition in isolating unwanted noise. The increased sound deadening means it’s cathedral-quiet at any speed. In terms of fuel mileage, it does 9.009 km/L in purely city driving.
One big change for 2015 is the addition of Flex Steer across the line. A button on the tiller adjusts the steering effort between three modes: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. At low to mid-range speeds, the effect is noticeable, but at higher speeds, the steering automatically tightens up for added precision. As a result, it’s largely a gimmick. After a while, you’ll find that Normal, and to some degree, Sport gives the best balance. The rest of the chassis doesn’t see a change. This means it’s tuned more for comfort as opposed to corner carving fun. Still, it hits the right balance with a ride that’s not too firm or too soft. Sadly, brakes remain to be a disc/drum combination and equates to an inorganic pedal feel.
In a world of ever changing trends and tastes, it seems Hyundai is slowing its pace down. Perhaps it has found its sweet spot in terms of value and is sticking to it. And that’s a bit scary. Yes, the Elantra is still a solid and respectable compact sedan with a roomy interior and commendable build quality, but it’s not the same game-changing car it once was. More than anything, it has digressed somewhat by offering less equipment at a slightly higher cost. And that’s the rub. When Hyundai launched the Elantra three years ago, it was one of the compact cars to beat. It offered excellent value and its rivals all took note. This time, the others have caught up and this Hyundai is slowly being left behind.
2015 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 S
|Ownership||2015 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 S A/T|
|Year Introduced||2012 (Refreshed: 2014)|
|Body Type||4-door Sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Naturally Aspirated, Dual CVVT|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||130 @ 6,300|
|Nm @ rpm||156 @ 4,850|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,274|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Hankook Kinergy Eco 205/55R16 H (f&r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|