HYUNDAI'S success story in Australia continues to gather momentum, with the Korean manufacturer making unbelievable strides in the past decade.
Of course, much of that ascendency can be hitched to the star of the i30 hatch, but other offerings, too, like the ix35, Santa Fe and Veloster are beginning to pull their weight.
The Elantra presents an interesting quandary. Based on the i30 platform, it is for all intents and purposes an i30 sedan and, truth be told, would probably sell more if it is branded as such. This latest nip and tuck is intended to help the Elantra keep pace with much more aggressive moving rivals.
There are some minor exterior changes, a revised interior, a longer inclusions list and the obligatory minor price rise.
The entry-level Active manual is $400 dearer at $20,990, the mid-range Elite steps up to $26,790, while the range-topping Premium will set you back in excess of $30,000.
The interior of the new Elantra sedan shows some obvious changes, with the air vents better placed at face height and an easy-to-use touch-screen that incorporates a reverse camera.
The console is well designed with the driver in mind, with hardy buttons and dials and quality surrounds.
Plastics are a mixed bunch but work well enough with no rattle, which is always a good thing. Leg room is good, as it was in the previous model, but headroom is hindered by the sloping roof - more so with a sunroof. Seats are comfortable both in the front and back with more than adequate support.
Our Premium model came with leather seats, which marked quite easily, but were just as easy to wipe clean. Storage is clever and includes a chilled glovebox, while the boot - 420 litres with the back seats in place - is a real roomy surprise.
On the road
Hyundai has worked hard on the suspension of this jazzed-up Elantra, with a team in Australia ensuring it was best-suited for our conditions.
The improvement is certainly
noted, especially over the rough edges, with the Elantra remaining confident and comfortable under foot.
It is sure into corners, even with a sharp change in direction, and is quick to take instruction from the driver.
The Elantra is still powered by a 1.8-litre engine, paired in our test car with a six-speed auto.
It is an able combination, despite the lack of direct fuel injection, but there are, as you would expect, some limitations.
While the Elantra is a worthy soldier around town, it struggles a bit when pushed, and intentions have to be somewhat telegraphed, especially when overtaking under load. The three-mode Flex Steer system first used by Hyundai in the Santa Fe and i30 now makes an appearance across the Elantra models.
It allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport, making the steering heavier at each mark to change the driving experience. For our money, put it in Normal and leave it there, as the other two modes are limited and only serve to frustrate.
What do you get?
Hyundai has gone heavy on inclusions, partly to justify the price increase, but mostly because that's what Hyundai is about.
Standard fare in our top-of-the-range Premium included 17-inch alloys, auto headlights and wipers, electric folding side mirrors, dual-zone air-con, keyless entry with push-button start, projection beam headlights, LED daytime running lights, touch-screen with reverse camera and sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, parking sensors, electric sunroof, heated front seats and leather trim. Safety is five-star and boasts six airbags, ABS with EBD, stability and traction control and reinforced body and crush zones.
There is no shortage of competition in this sector, with the biggest threat coming from the Mazda3 Sedan (from $20,490), Kia Cerato Sedan (from $23,990), Honda Civic (from $20,490) and Toyota Corolla Sedan (from $20,740).
There is a fair bit to like about the Elantra, including roominess, boot space and comfortable ride quality, and this will no doubt pique the interest.
But there were also some things we didn't like, including the bulky windscreen pillars that hindered visibility and the fact that rear air vents are only available on the Premium model.
Official figures for the auto stand at 7.1 litres/100km, but we found our test car far more thirsty - closer to 9.0 litres/100km, in fact.
We are impressed, however, by a super five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, three-year capped price servicing program and 12 months free roadside assist.
You will have to look hard to notice the exterior changes to an already eye-catching car. The headlights have been updated with new square bezels, with new bumpers both front and back. A dark chrome grille takes pride of place, enhanced by chrome beltline moulding, while the mid-range Elite and Premium models sit on newly designed alloys.
Model: Hyundai Elantra Premium.
Details: Five-door front-wheel-drive small sedan.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 110kW at 6500rpm and peak torque of 178Nm from 4700rpm.
Consumption: 7.1 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $30,190 (Elantra Active manual at $20,990).
What matters most
What we liked: New suspension, improved roomy interior.
What we'd like to see: A bit more power, rear air vents across the range.
Warranty and servicing: Hyundai offers a five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is capped for three years, with intervals annually or every 15,000km. Each service costs $219.