TWO factors are making the Hyundai distributor here very optimistic about its Elantra in 2014 - a mild makeover and its affordability.
The Hyundai Elantra, which was first introduced here more than two years ago, has had a very mild makeover. On the outside, nothing has changed except that a pair of daytime driving lights has been integrated into the fog lamps.
On the inside, though, there are a few ergonomic changes. The interior looks largely the same as the previous car except that the pair of front air vents in the centre console are now in a higher position.
They used to reside on the same level as the steering column but now, the vents flank the audio set and are integrated into the decorative trim, instead of being part of the lower dash.
Another welcome change is the new pair of rear air vents for occupants in the back seat. Housed in the centre arm rest for the front seat passengers, they put the 1.6-litre Elantra in a different class, while projecting that important quality of value for money. Because with a starting price of $110,999, this is the lowest this pretty Hyundai has been for more than a year.
Even though the February re-classification of COE Category A has not resulted in lower premiums, it has encouraged distributor Komoco Motors to keep prices low for the Elantra. Its predecessor, the Avante, was Singapore's top model in 2009 when COE premiums ranged from about $1,000 to not more than $19,000.
But if premiums do not fall as expected, the Elantra still remains a credible alternative. It feels more solid than it looks and drives confidently with well-weighted steering that is fairly accurate. Gripping the thick rim of the steering wheel provides tactile satisfaction, while its tidy handling produces surprisingly high driving enjoyment.
The Hyundai has a six-speed automatic transmission which can be manual shifted using the redesigned gear lever that is now sportier to look at and smoother to hold. The gated shift of old has also been replaced with a neater smoked plastic garnish.
The relatively quiet cabin is let down by tyre noise, which depending on the trim level, is sized at 15 or 16 inches. There is a $6,000 difference between the S and Elite variants.
For the extra cash, the Elite gets a long list of extra equipment such as keyless engine start, an electric driver's seat, six airbags instead of the standard two, and a reverse camera integrated into the rear view mirror which also has front recording video capabilities.
Not bad for something in this segment. Now all the Elantra needs to make it even more attractive is a lower COE premium.
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Max power: 130 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Max torque: 157 Nm @ 4,850 rpm
0-100 kmh: 11.6 secs
Top speed: 195 kmh
CO2 emissions: 159 g/km
Average OMV: $13,700
Price: from $110,999 (with COE)
Distributor: Komoco Motors
Tel: 6475 8888