Be careful when you push the pedal,” my colleague who drives an automatic, warns me as I step in to the swanky new Hyundai Elantra SX Automatic waiting for me at the office parking lot. I soon realise why. The SX petrol version purrs like a kitten when you start the engine at the push of a button, but the moment you touch the accelerator, the tiger in the 1.8 litre engine wakes up. Before we can spell out the name and the model of the car, we are zooming at 80kmph -- thankfully on a relatively empty stretch of road. Whoa! But then this is a new toy for someone used to pushing clutch and changing gears every other minute. And which boy doesn’t like to play with a classy toy? But we are reviewing a car here. So we get down to serious business.
You need to just glance at the exterior to understand why the clean-cut new design of the Elantra has been such a hit in the market. Makes you wonder sometimes what their designers were thinking when they worked on the previous, rather chunky and unimpressive version. The headlights stare back at us like the eyes of an angry big cat and from the sides, the sleek design gives it a sports car feel.
DISCOVERING THE SX
But once inside, you figure out quickly how big this baby is. A six- footer can easily sit on the wheels with another six-footer comfortably stretching his legs at the back. The front seats go back a long way and the fully leather upholstered interiors with the arm rests in the front and back, make it easier for us to relax even when we get stuck in Mumbai’s traffic jams.
The features are many, but to us the most important is the presence of the four dual stage airbags -- for both front and rear seat occupants. Of course, like most smart cars today, the Elantra SX automatic comes with not just power windows but with ‘door ajar’ and ‘seat belt’ warnings as well. The steering wheel itself has a dozen buttons, including ones to control the music volume, change channels, pick up, dial or cancel a call (how cool is that!).
However, we would advice that the ‘call’ facility be used the least (while driving) and a few others. We are intrigued by the ‘Cruise’ button and press it once we hit the Western Express Highway at night. On a rare stretch of road that is as straight as an arrow, we let loose. The car cruises at a comfortable 90kmph. The best part -- we don’t have to worry about the steering wheel. It’s automated to cruise ahead. Of course we don’t want to try this for too long on city roads and restore our grip on the wheel soon, but we are impressed. This car will make our driving lives easier.
We pump up the volume on the two-din integrated (in-dash) music system, listen to some music on the radio (it’s past midnight) and then, curious, switch on another button that shows a fan over a seat. And hey, presto! Our backs and posteriors get cooled, too, in a jiffy. As we drive down towards the airport, our vehicle keeps pumping us with more information -- distance to empty, average fuel consumption, average speed, and the fact that we closing in on 1 am. When we pick up our guests, we realise just how big the boot space is. At over 500 litres of space it means we can pack in two gigantic suitcases and two smaller ones with ease.And a backpack too.
We cross several of Mumbai’s crater-filled roads on our 20km journey back, and go over a dozen speed breakers as well. A bike comes in front once and we slam the brakes. Then we zoom again. Why are giving you this seemingly useless dope? Guess what? We feel the craters but it doesn’t feel like our insides would come out (as it usually does), no one’s head hits the roof when we go over the speed-brakers and none of us scream when we slam the brakes. If this isn’t a smooth drive, show me one. The final word of wisdom: it’s an automatic model so there’s no clutch (duh.). Buy this and your left leg will thank you for the rest of your life.
Price: Rs 14.93 lakh (ex-showroom)
Fuel Tank: 56 litres
Engine: Petrol VTVT 1797 cc
Transmission: 6 Gears automatic
The steering wheel is automated to cruise ahead by a single press of the cruise button
The four dual stage airbags makes seating comfortable for both the front and rear seat occupants
The car has a VTVT 1797 cc petrol engine