Cars Hyundai Elantra Smartstream test drive review

Published on April 7th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Hyundai Elantra Smartstream 7th Generation Test Drive Review

This Elantra car review is the hardest review we have had to do in years. Why?

As the year’s progress, all car manufacturers will move their game up with every new model to better their rivals. This is a ‘game’ that is ‘played’ year on year and one that sees only a short term winner as the rival will look at the great new product and make sure their next version ticks all the boxes and more to get better buyer attention and the much have ‘automotive awards’ that is displayed in the showroom.

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_side view

So, after decades of doing this great job, we have gotten used to test driving better cars year after year. So, why is the all new Hyundai Elantra so difficult to review? 

Well, after the impressive 5th and stylish well built 6th generation Elantra, this all new 7th generation has moved the goal-posts out of the field. No longer is this a segment rival to the Japanese car brands. Hyundai has take this Elantra into dangerous European territory and here lies our problem. 

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_infotainment screen
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_drivers seat
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_front seats
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_seat material
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_stalk control

Almost every person who will be reading this review (who does not work for Hyundai Motors or Kia Motors) will immediately say that this is a paid editorial and there is no way a Korean vehicle can rival a European vehicle.

There is no way the cabin build, quality and also ergonomics can better a German compact sedan costing almost RM50,000 more. 

It is ridiculous to even compare a European made sedan to a Asian made sedan. 

What is even worse is to say that a Korean made sedan handles better than the German made sedan. 

We have this to say. Before you start pounding your keyboard in response to my test drive review to mock my evaluation, please visit a Hyundai showroom and take this new Elantra for a test drive and right after the test drive, visit their nearest European rival showroom and test drive their sedan and then with an open and fair mind respond to our evaluation.

If you have note done as suggested above, then keep quiet and do not comment please.

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_dashboard
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_drive system
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_gearshifter
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_cupholders

7th Generation Elantra Design

This is a futuristic looking family sedan with first class cabin appointments. This is a surprising new look for this Korean family/mid-executive sedan and it all due to the guidance of Luc Donckerwolke, the executive vice president and chief design officer, Hyundai Motor Group. 

7th Generation Elantra Platform

Sitting on an all new 3rd generation platform, this new Elantra delivers a larger cabin space, higher safety standards and better driving dynamics. Hyundai engineers and designers had to make the 2021 Elantra longer, lower, and wider compared to the sixth-generation model. 

This 2021 Elantra gains 30 mm in overall length (which becomes 4,650 mm) and 20 mm in its wheelbase (2,720 mm), and the overall width is increased 25 mm (1,825 mm). The overall height also dropped 20 mm (1,420 mm), and the front cowl point was moved back almost 30 mm.

7th Generation Elantra Engine

For the Malaysian buyer this all new Elantra comes fully imported and with just one engine option and a very high specification cabin. It is a brand new engine and its is called SmartStream G which is a 1.6 MPi petrol engine that delivers a modest 123ps of power at 6,300rpm and a peak torque of 154Nm at 4,500rpm. The Smartstream G1.6 MPi is a four-cylinder engine which features continuously variable valve timing and multi-port injection as well as a new thermal management module. 

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_power windows
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_ignition
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_power outlets

7th Generation Elantra Gearbox

This Elantra comes with an eight-speed version of the Smartstream IVT which offers a 4.2 percent improvement in fuel economy and a reduction of 5 percent to 8 percent in engine power loss. Although it is very similar to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), IVT is said to be capable of reproducing the shift pattern of a manual transmission, making it feel more responsive.

The Smartstream powertrain is Hyundai Motor’s response to global efforts to safeguard the environment as well as to meet customers’ demand for fun-to-drive cars. It is designed to deliver improved fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions. The word ‘Smart’ implies being intelligent in design, control and operation, while ‘Stream’ refers to dynamic movement of mobility.

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_vehicle departure warning
Great feature to have for drivers who like to use their smartphone at traffic lights
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_drive mode SPORT
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_drive mode SMART
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream_drive mode ECO

7th Generation Elantra Drive

The previous 6th generation Elantra was already an impressive sedan when it arrived in Malaysia 2019. Priced at RM109,888 if could not challenge the popularity of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3. Still, it managed a find a few happy customers. This new Elantra comes full imported from Korea and with cabin specifications that might shame some European sedans. High quality materials are used, from the carpet, to the seat trim, right up to the roof lining. Then there is the new dashboard design. Nicely put together and very ergonomically laid out, it is a pleasure to work with. All controls are in easy reach and the premium feel continues. 

The SmartStream 1.6L engine never feels out of breath, even in ‘economy’ mode and this is why credit must be given to its engine designers. It’s smooth power delivery shows no signs of hesitation when pushed hard and there is very little road noise intrusion past 110km/h (even past 150km/h).  

Even with its 225/45/17 wide tyres it feels as much at home on winding JKR state maintained roads as it does on a tolled highway at high speed. We have to mention the very slick auto gear-change action and its smooth engine and you have a family car that will keep you smiling whether you are in daily heavy traffic or taking in a long weekend drive to a secluded Air B&B. Brakes are very reassuring when called on and its never feels like its losing its feel when used very hard in an emergency.

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream rear
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream front

7th Generation Elantra Decision

So, the final decision comes to…

  1. resale value after 5 years, 
  2. what the neighbours will say and 
  3. the selling price of its immediate rivals. 

Well, we can answer only for resale values. Yes, the Japanese brands are holding better resale values, but only by 15 to 20 percent after 5-7 years. Meanwhile, you are buying a quality product and will be living with it for 5- 7 years, so will the small margin of 15-20 percent change your life?

BHP_Euro5 Diesel_2021

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream Specifications

Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC

Capacity: 1598cc

Transmission: 8-speed IVT

Power: 123PS @ 6300rpm

Torque: 154Nm @ 4500rpm

Price: RM158,888.00

Hyundai Elantra Smartstream 2021
Hyundai Elantra Smartstream 1.6L

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