New cars these days come in three model variants at least with different engine sizes and transmissions offering roughly the same level of performance. But how common do car manufacturers offer two trim levels that are vastly different than one another? Hyundai Sime Darby Motors Sdn. Bhd. (HSDM) did just that by offering Malaysian consumers the all-new Elantra Executive, Dynamic and the range-topping Sport. Think of the Executive as the bookworm and the Sport as the kid who keeps bringing home medals from Hari Sukan.
HSDM handed us the keys to both the base Executive and the fully equipped Sport variant for us to sample. In terms of appearance, they are very much like twins – triplets if you count the Dynamic trim in as well – with their own distinctive personalities and traits. The Executive is equipped with projector halogen headlamps with LED daytime running lamps (DRL) nested within the light cluster assembly. Flanked in between headlamps is the Executive’s single-frame grille with chrome surrounds.
The Sport come with HID projector headlamps with a signature ‘red line’ design, which offers a much intense illumination with DRLs located on each side of the bumper above each vents. Both cars feature chrome door handles and a single chrome garnish that runs on the lower half of the greenhouse end to end on each side. The other subtle difference here is that the Sport comes fitted with side skirts.
Moving on to the rear, both cars come with LED rear combination lamps each sporting different designs. The Sport is differentiated with a sportier rear bumper design with twin-pipe exhaust tips. They’re not just all about looks; raspy and angry is the best way to describe its exhaust note, and comes with the requisite pops and burbles, though you can’t hear too much of it inside. Clearly, the Sport version wasn’t made for conservative motorists.
The Interiors of both cars are different as well. The Executive features a much classier interior providing comfort with its suede and leather seats. They are soft to the touch and comfortable to sit on. The red and black seats in the Sport are comfortable and supportive especially from their large and firm side seat bolsters preventing the driver from being a slave to high lateral forces.
The drivers’ seats in both cars are eight-way electrically adjustable with two-way lumbar support, while the passenger get regular four-way mechanically adjustable seats. Other notable areas for the range-topping Sport variant are that it comes with black headlining and a flat-bottom steering wheel.
At the rear, both cars are very much alike; leg and headroom are sufficient to sit two adults and come with ISOFIX anchor points for baby seats. The rear passengers also get to enjoy air conditioning from the rear console air vents as well. They fold 60:40 and are foldable if you need to free up additional boot space to store long and bulky items and comes with a retractable centre armrest.
In terms of build quality, Hyundai cars have come a long way; you’ll find the interior panels in both the cars are well executed and assembled, which like most Hyundai cars to date have now reached a level of refinement. You can find soft-touch areas on the door cards and dashboard. The switches and dials offer solid tactile feedback and located within the driver and passenger’s reach.
Both cars are fitted with a seven-inch touchscreen multimedia display fitted with the latest connectivity in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, plus two USB inputs for media playback and for charging. However, GPS navigation is not included in the system.
Despite having two different rear suspension types, both the Executive and Sport retains the same boot capacity space of 458-litres, with enough space to store a space-saver spare wheel rather than a full-size spare.
Under the hood of the Elantra Executive lies a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated with variable valve timing four-cylinder engine that makes 150hp at 6,200 rpm and 192Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission – without paddle shifters – with power sent to the front wheels. Power delivery from the engine and transmission combo is decent and can be well described as linear, which conservative drivers can appreciate the Elantra Executive’s comfortable driving characteristics.
The engine spins smoothly and unlike the competition, the six-speed automatic transmission doesn’t move to the highest gears as soon as possible to save fuel. As a result, it holds gears longer allowing you to use the engine’s available torque shifting at 4,000 rpm aren’t usually typical in most automatic transmissions.
On the other hand, the 1.6-litre in the Elantra Sport is the complete opposite; the turbocharged direct injected and variable valve petrol engine makes 201hp at 6,000 rpm and 265Nm of torque from a lowly 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. It is essentially the same engine fitted in the Veloster Turbo, but it has seen some improvements on the way the engine breathes, according to Hyundai, the engine is fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger which reduces turbo lag and improves throttle response.
Mated to the 1.6-litre lump is a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, which it has three drive modes for the driver to choose from: eco, normal and sport. The drive modes affect the way the steering reacts, throttle sensitivity and reactiveness of the transmission. In sport mode the steering feel weighs much heavier and the transmission holds on a little longer. Shifting gears manually can be done via paddle shifters located on the steering wheel and gear selector, but the gearbox will step in if you try to reach to rev the engine out. That said, the gearbox is intuitive, snappy and allows you to explore the rev range as much as you really need.
The Elantra Executive has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.2 L/100km, as tested, it managed to clock at 4.7 L/100km highway, 8.6 L/100km urban and 7.6 L/100km combined which includes some hard driving as well. The Elantra Sport does just as well in sipping fuel; 4.9 L/100km highway, 8.9 L/100km urban and 7.8 L/100km combined, likewise with some spirited driving included in the mix.
When it comes to driving, the Elantra Executive’s steering feels quick and reacts well, though require constant little adjustment at highway speeds. As for urban driving, the steering is light enough to make parking moves with ease and the suspension deals with little bumps and rough road surfaces very well. It also makes light of potholes or speed bumps, too. Soft damping means that the Elantra Executive rolls quite a bit in corners with noticeable body lean. It doesn’t feel insecure as it manages with good amounts of grip available from Goodyear EfficientGrip tyres.
The Elantra Sport is a very different animal when it comes to handling. The steering is very impressive for this type of car. It turns in eagerly with a decent amount of feel in the hands. The car changes direction without fuss and there’s a real connectedness to it. There is understeer, but almost unnoticeable especially if you’re light on the throttle from entry to mid corner, and some of that comes down to the grippy Hankook Ventus Prime2 tyres. With stickier tyres may eliminate that even further. We pushed it through fast, tight and technical corners and at the end, without a doubt, the best handling Hyundai yet.
The rear independent rear suspension allows the Elantra Sport to cope better with bumps and doesn’t skip over bumps, and the ride compliance is excellent. Malaysian roads are notorious with potholes, rough road surfaces and more, which Elantra Sport is able to offer a comfortable ride without being overly stiff.
As with all Hyundai cars, both the Elantra Executive and Sport comes with 5 Years or 300,000km manufacturers’ warranty, which you can drive 164km a day for 5 years knowing that your car is cared for. They also come with Safe Drive 24/7 Roadside Assist on-site repair and towing services to Hyundai owners. The Elantra Sport has been granted the Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) status from the Malaysia government.
The Elantra Executive is priced at RM119,899.29 and the Elantra Sport is priced from RM135,404.63 – both prices are OTR without insurance – and are reasonably priced. The Elantra has come a long way since and is fit enough to battle against big named C-segment saloons. The Elantra Sport however performs in a class of its own with flying colours, which customers who opt for one can enjoy driving performance similar to premium brands that cost twice as much.
Hyundai Elantra Executive
Price Msia: RM119,899.29 (OTR W/ Insurance)
Engine: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder
Top Speed: 200km/h (Tested)
Fuel consumption: 4.7 litres/100km (Tested)
Hyundai Elantra Sport
Price Msia: RM135,404.63 (OTR W/ Insurance)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder
Top Speed: 230km/h (Tested)
Fuel consumption: 4.9 litres/100km (Tested)