Hyundai’s lineup has continued to improve over recent years, so much so that the Korean firm is launching its own luxury brand to take on the more established premium marques such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The good news is that Hyundai's smaller, more affordable models are also vastly better than they were just a few years ago.
Just take a look at the all-new, sixth-generation Elantra. The compact sedan made its North American debut this week at the 2015 Los Angeles auto show and due to reach showrooms next January, as a 2017 model.
It features a larger, more mature design that reminds us a little of the Audi A3. At the same time, weight is down thanks to the use of more high-strength steel—up 32 percent—in place of bulkier conventional steel. The suspension has also been overhauled to improve dynamic capabilities, and improvements were made virtually everywhere to ensure the new Elantra is much more refined than previous generations.
Another significant area of focus for the design team was noise, vibration and harshness in the cabin. To reduce engine sound, a hood insulator has been added. The designers also reduced the aperture size in the front dash panel by 25 percent, increased the thickness of the front door window glass, and added various sound absorption materials in all pillars, inner fenders and floorpan.
In the powertrain department, buyers will have two fuel-efficient options to choose from. The base model will come with a six-speed automatic and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivering 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. This combination should return around 33 mpg combined. Further up is a new Elantra Eco model, which sports a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. This model will have 128 hp and 156 lb-ft and should return up to 35 mpg combined.
For the layout of the interior, the designers focused on driver comfort. The cockpit display is angled 6.9 degrees towards the driver and features a less cluttered look. Soft-touch and high-quality materials are found across the cabin surfaces, creating an almost premium feel. Included on the new Elantra is Hyundai’s latest Blue Link connectivity system, which allows you to remotely access the car, receive vehicle health reports and connect you with emergency services when needed.
For more from the L.A. auto show, head to our dedicated hub.