Sunday, February 25, 2018

Test Drive: 2017-2018 Hyundai Elantra Executive 2.0 - First Review of 2018!!!

The honour of being the first written review in Motoring Malaysia falls to...the 2017/2018 Malaysian variant of the Hyundai Elantra Executive 2.0 sedan. These days, in the age where video reviews are picking up the need for a written review is still there. Of course, sometimes, when we only have two hands, multiple car launches, events, holidays and more distractions (like Yours Truly trying to make more talking head videos) have taken its toll - I got my hands on the car about the same time as the Hyundai Elantra Sport review which I did on YouTube!!! 

But of course, we like writing proper experience style reviews and while it may not be Pulitzer Prize material, a certain standard of how we blabber on must be kept. And so, here is the Hyundai Elantra Executive 2.0 sedan review for you folks out there to read.

The Hyundai Elantra Executive is Hyundai’s bread and butter C-segment sedan model. It sits below the Elantra Dynamic. The main difference between the Exec and the Dynamic is that the Dynamic gets a bodykit and Daytime running lights (DRL) on the bumper instead of no bodykit and fog lights in the front bumper like this Elantra Exec - which still has LED positioning lights in the headlight cluster. 

It also sits beneath the sportier Elantra Sport. It also sits somewhere in between the Hyundai IONIQ base model and the top specced IONIQ HEV Plus variant which is actually priced at nearly the same price as this Elantra!!! (MYR116,488.00++). So it has to play a certain part in Hyundai Malaysia’s (Hyundai Sime Darby Motors) sales strategy. There could be some overlap in terms of models and variants but there is actually some logic to what they are doing which I shall explain somewhere down below. 

In terms of styling, the Elantra has matured over the years into what it looks like today and I must say that this latest design execution of the Elantra is more European looking than ever. The design team of Hyundai is led by Peter Schreyer and you can see the Audi-esque influences here and there, inside and outside of this new Elantra. I totally dig the simple yet modern exterior and the nicely laid out interior. It may not have that curvy, more feminine looking, coca-cola bottle shape of the previous Elantra, but I dig this more angular styling. 

As for the interior, the design feels spacious. It does feel like you are sitting in a car which is very airy. It is either the seats are set a little too high or the waistline of the glass area is set low. But whatever it is the driving position feels nice with no awkwardness to it. The dials are legible and the switches are nicely laid out. Interior space is also good up front and also at the rear with more than ample boot space - getting in and out is not an issue for a chubby boy like me. Good in terms of a C-Segment sedan folks. 

Material quality seems to be good with soft touch plastic (and leather) where it counts. The fit and finish inside also feels commendable. The interior of many Hyundai cars I have driven in recent years actually look and feel better than some Japanese brands these days.

The interior also feels like the Elantra Sport I tested earlier minus the bright red interior. The only red bits are some of the stitching on the leather steering wheel and seats. Some may find the Elantra Sport too ‘in-your-face’, so this one still feels sporty but not extreme. The rest feels very European in execution, much like the exterior. No, I did not find it too plain, merely a logical evolution by Hyundai in what I would say a proper direction as everything that I thought was wrong in the previous Elantra interior was actually corrected. Of course, if you want a bit of excitement in your life, try the Elantra Sport with its brighter interior and more characterful turbocharged engine. 

So when it comes to the engine, the Hyundai Elantra Executive is powered by a 2.0liter normally aspirated 4 cylinder engine and it is front wheel driven via a 6 speed torque converter gearbox. The engine makes a decent amount of power and torque without any turbocharging or even any direct injection systems. I suppose the reason why the Elantra Executive is brought in with this engine can be down to several factors. 

It has to be the cost factor. It sits in the middle of the Malaysian Hyundai line-up where it has to be priced competitively against its Japanese rivals. It also must sit in between the top of the line Elantra Sport with its turbocharged 1.6 liter 200hp engine and it must also be placed somewhere close to the top specced Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid. In terms of pricing, the Ioniq HEV with everything inside sells close to the price asked for this Elantra Exec.  So if the GDi engine from Hyundai’s parts bin in added, the asking price may be jacked up and it wouldn’t be a sensible proposition to many. 

The basic but still large for a C-segment sized 2.0liter engine will ensure decent performance and still keep down costs. The Elantra Exec’s appeal would also be to those who do not want to get the IONIQ. There are those who are still sceptical in this day and age of hybrid technology so the Elantra Exec fills in a niche too. 

In terms of drivability, it drives very much like a traditional 2.0liter C-segment sedan. The engine comes alive at above 4,000rpm, so if you need to push it harder like when you are overtaking, or attacking that corner on a windy road, it needs some pedal to the metal action. Of course, if you’re in town, it will pootle around in traffic nicely and quietly. 

Refinement is only affected when you use the revs to the fullest and aside from that, it is pretty refined under 3,000rpm. And speaking of refinement, the suspension soaks up most of the (bad) roads in and around Petaling Jaya, Serdang, Puchong and Kuala Lumpur which were the areas where of most of the testing of Elantra Exec took place. 

The ride is very good and it isn’t the unyielding ride of the Elantra Sport.  You can feel that the suspension is smothering out the bumps and ruts. It is comfortable and a nice place to be in. Good to be after the long commute. But try to be gentle on the revs as it does get noisy over 4,500rpm like any normally aspirated powerplant with less than 5 cylinders and engine capacity. 

The benchmark for refinement I used for the car comes from internal competition. The IONIQ is so much quieter due to the fact that Hyundai actually set up the car to run on electric mode or with the switching in of the petrol engine. So it has to be super quiet. I have to say that the IONIQ is the most refined C-segment sized car on the market today because of its hybrid technology and with that, the Elantra Exec becomes very normal. 

It is also less refined in terms of engine refinement compared to the 1.6liter GDi engine of the IONIQ and the turbocharged T-GDi engine of the Elantra Sport. GDi engines are direct injection engines and they somehow are smoother than this Nu series 2.0liter engine. The turbocharger in the Elantra Sport is also an added refinement point because it quietens things down over 4,000rpm where things are just a swoosh when the boost kicks in.

So what does this mean for the Elantra Exec? Simple. This is a car for the family man who wants a traditional, dependable, lower maintenance in the long run sedan. There are no additional motors like in a hybrid and there are no high pressure points like you have in a turbocharged engine so it could be more reliable in the long run. This simply means that the Elantra Exec sits in a sweet spot for some. 

Performance is adequate as it is a 2.0liter engine with 152hp and 192Nm torque notwithstanding. 0-100kmh is around the 10second mark and you can easily take it to 200kmh if you want. In terms of petrol consumption, I managed to get an average of 10liters per 100km which is quite good for a normally aspirated 2.0liter C-segment car driven by a couldn't be bothered about the fuel consumption type of person like me.

Cruising at 30- 40kmh over the national highway speed limit it sill feels very settled and while it does roll a tad bit more than the Elantra Sport, it does not have that rock hard suspension of the Sport. So in terms of ride and handling, it is a good compromise in all sectors. Even the electrically assisted steering seems to feel quite good and accurate. The weighing is good but feel could be slightly improved. 

So this is what the Elantra Exec is. It is a good middle ground for most people. It isn’t the most powerful, it isn’t the most torquey and it may not attract attention too. But sometimes, getting something that is just mid-market is the sweet spot for the pocket in the long run. I’ll bet that in terms of maintenance, this will cost the least against Hyundai’s other C-segment offerings here in Malaysia and that, could be the answer that many are looking for. 

Add their 5 year, or 300,000km warranty and current price from RM116,388++ it seems to be a very good proposition. Equipment levels are decently good with a decent Android/Apple Carplay linked infotainment system (no Navigation though) and you do get the basic safety systems like 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, Hill Start Assist, Brake Assist and also Vehicle Stability Management for active safety. No, there aren’t any advance active safety systems like blind spot indicators,  or lane departure warning but at this price range, these are seldom available. What is given is more than enough as I do believe that the more electronics you put into a car, the more it would cost if you intend to keep the car for a decade or so.

So there you have it folks, the Hyundai Elantra 2.0 Executive, and my thoughts on it.  I would also like to add that additional rarity factor in a land where everyone seems to want to buy a Honda Civic, you will actually be a little more unique. 

The Hyundai Elantra 2.0 
Price: From MYR 116,388.00* (with GST without insurance Peninsular Malaysia)
Free 3-year or 50,000km Service Maintenance (T&C applies)

Performance :0-100kmh in around 10.0 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 10.0liters/100km - average fuel consumption over the duration of the test

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