Published on December 31st, 2011 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
THE EVOLUTION OF THE HYUNDAI ELANTRA
It was almost two decades ago when Hyundai first arrived in Malaysia. It was the initiative of two businessmen with petrol running thru their veins. The early Hyundai models to enter the market were simple vehicles like the Sonata, Pony and Elantra and they shared engineering technology with Mitsubishi. They sold in small numbers initially and as their popularity increased more models entered the market and the Hyundai business changed hands. Now in the hands of Sime Darby automotive group, the Hyundai brand has become a force to reckon with in all the segments that it has products. Early February 2012, Hyundai Sime Darby will launch the all new Elantra which has taken the North American market by storm. Winning a string of awards in design, fuel efficiency, quality, drive, dynamics and even space, this Elantra will be a sure winner in the Malaysian market. Meanwhile let us give you some historical background on the Elantra.
The Elantra has a history of more than two decades since its launch in 1990. Back then the Elantra was known as the Elantra in Malaysia, but just Lantra in Australia, and in some European markets. It was in 2001 that Hyundai Motor Company decided to standardize the name and call it the Elantra globally with the exception of Korea and at one point of time, in Malaysia as well. In Korea, the Elantra is known as the Avante.
The first generation Hyundai Elantra that was introduced in 1990 and was codenamed J1. It was powered by a Mitsubishi-designed 1.6L (1596 cc) Straight-4 engine. This engine was capable of producing 113 horsepower at 6,000rpm. It was also capable of achieving 97km/h from 0km/h in 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 187km/h. Average fuel consumption for a city drive was recorded at 10.7L/100km. The J1 Elantra received its first facelift in 1992 but this was only applicable for the European market. In 1993, it was given another facelift and subsequently a third facelift in 1994 for both the front and rear fascias. The J1 Elantra had five variants which include the 1.5GL (Manual only), 1.6GL (Manual and Automatic), 1.6 GLS (Manual and Automatic), 1.8 GT (Manual and Automatic) and 1.8 GTS (Manual and Automatic). The manual version came with a 5-speed transmission while the auto version only had 4-speed transmission.
In 1995, the Elantra evolved in its design, from a squarish look to a sleeker and curvier front and back. The second-generation Elantra codenamed RD or J2 came in two forms; the sedan and the station wagon. In Korea, the sedan was called the Hyundai Avante while the station wagon was called the Avante Touring. In Malaysia, only the Hyundai Elantra sedan was made available. Three versions of the RD Elantra were introduced but not all versions were made available in all the countries. They were the 1.5L Alpha SOHC I4 engine which produces 107 horsepower, the 1.6L Beta DOHC which produces 116 horsepower and the 1.8L Beta DOHC Gasoline I4 engine which produces 128 horsepower. In 1998, the RD Elantra underwent a facelift and a new 2.0L engine option was made available. The interior of the 2.0L was also upgraded with plush soft fabric seats and fitted with alloy wheels.
In 2000, the third-generation Elantra codenamed XD was launched with a refreshed look. The idea of having a wagon version was dropped in favor of a five-door hatchback. Commencing 2001, the Elantra models came with standard front and front-side airbags, air conditioning, power locks, power windows, and power steering. This simplified dealer inventories and repairs. In 2003, the XD Elantra received a facelift with the introduction of new headlights and taillights, a new grille, new front and rear bumpers, a refreshed hood and trunk, and a redesigned dashboard. A top-of-the-line variant was later introduced, which came with a stiffer suspension, leather seats, fog lights, alloy wheels, lip spoiler and blue-lit instrument cluster.The XD Elantra engine lineup consisted of a 1.6L, 1.8L and 2.0L petrol engines and also a 2.0L turbo diesel in some countries. North American models only came with the 2.0L petrol engine.
Although the basic powertrain design has changed a little since the second generation, successive improvements have improved fuel economy from an EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) rating of 24 mpg-US/33 mpg-US to 25 mpg-US/33 mpg-US and 27 mpg-US/34 mpg-US for manual transmissions. The horsepower also improved from 135 hp (100 kW) to 138 hp (102 kW), and torque from 132 to 136, mainly due to the addition of CVVT in 2004. In 2006 the Elantra was offered with a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rated engine in some U.S. states.
A redesigned HD Elantra sedan debuted at the 2006 New York Auto Show which makes it the fourth generation Elantra. In North America, the Elantra also offered the most interior room in its class. The engine lineup includes 1.6L Gamma and 2.0L Beta II petrol in-line four engines and a 1.6L turbo deisel inline-four. Only the 2.0L engine is offered in North America. All engines feature improved fuel economy over previous versions. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard and a four-speed auto is optional. Hyundai began producing the Avante “LPI Hybrid” and it was launched in the South Korean domestic market in July 2009. The Avante LPI (Liquefied Petroleum Injected) is the world’s first hybrid electric vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine built to run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fuel. The Hyundai Avante LPI is a mild hybrid and the first hybrid to adopt advanced lithium polymer (Li–Poly) batteries.
The birth of the fifth-generation MD Elantra in 2010 took the world by storm with its great looks and smart features. The MD Elantra’s styling, power output, fuel-efficiency, comfort and safety features have been all upgraded. Projecting a sportier and even more progressive image than its predecessor, the all-new compact sedan Elantra will continue its successful tradition of offering class-leading performance and fuel efficiency, thanks to its cutting-edge technology and powertrain. Having its roots in Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy that aims to reflect sophistication and dynamic lines into the shape of vehicles, Hyundai applied a specific design concept called “Wind Craft” to the new Elantra, evoking a piece of sculpture literally crafted from by wind. With its lower roofline and low rear deck lid, the new Elantra produces a slicker and sportier profile with a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.28, reducing wind resistance and improving fuel economy. A kicked-up trunk lid and carefully sculpted rear lamps allow smoother airflow.
The all new MD Elantra comes with a choice of two all-new and remarkably advanced petrol engines, Nu 1.8-liter MPI and Gamma 1.6-liter MPI D-CVVT. Both are mated to six-speed auto/manual transmissions, which deliver impressively more horsepower while consuming less fuel and producing lower emissions than the powertrains they replace. Hyundai began developing the new Elantra in 2008 under the codename MD. The project took 33 months and 300 billion won (US $277 million based on today’s currency exchange rates) to go from concept to customer. Hyundai Motor launched the new Elantra in Korea, selling nearly 77,000 units in 2010. The new compact sedan will make its way to overseas market starting the first half of this year. From the year 2012, Hyundai expects to sell 400,000 units annually in overseas. The Elantra has reached cumulative sales of six million units worldwide and received high marks from a number of world-renowned car-rating agencies since the first-generation model was launched in 1990.