Hyundai Elantra (1997)
Year Introduced: 1995
Star Rating: 3
Year Tested: July 1999
Star ratings Hyundai Lantra (1995-)
Pricing & Equipment ****
Presentation & Features ****
Comfort & Space ****
Handling & Braking ***
Parts Pricing ***
The Hyundai Lantra GLS has plenty to offer in terms of creature comfort features, while the new 2.0 litre engine provides a useful boost in performance, but the car is let down by a lack of technical refinement.
comfort and equipment
Hyundai’s mid-size family car, the Lantra, has further strengthened its appeal as a convenience-feature packed, value-for- money buy with the 1999 face-lifted model. But in keeping the price down there have been sacrifices.
The cosmetic changes are certainly more than simply a new grille and tail lights. Restyling of the front and rear has given the car a smarter, fresh look, while new head lamps, with clear lens, not only add to the appearance but their multi-focus reflectors provide better light output for safer night driving. Inside the most noticeable change is the new rotary-style heater controls which replace the sliding lever type on the previous model. The seat coverings have been upgraded, while the width of the front seat back has been slightly increased.
Hyundai has also taken the opportunity to rationalise the model line up. The Lantra range has been reduced from three to two specification levels (SE and GLS) in both sedan and wagon form. All appear to be better equipped than their predecessors. The most significant addition though is the introduction of a larger capacity 2.0 litre engine in the GLS version. The SE model retains the 1.8 litre engine.
Buyers who are attracted by the level of creature comforts they can get for their money will certainly be impressed by what the Lantra has to offer. In manual form the SE model at $19,990 drive-away comes standard with remote central locking, engine immobiliser, electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning and a CD player. Stepping up to the GLS manual at $21,990 drive-away you get alloy wheels, fog lights, driver’s lumbar adjustment, an extra two speakers for the sound system and power antenna, as well as the bigger engine. The deal looks even better when you consider Hyundai also offers a market-leading 5 year/130,000 km new car warranty on their entire range.
It is disappointing though to find the rear disc brakes and ABS, which were standard on the previous model, are now an extra cost option and come as part of a $2500 safe pack that also includes a driver’s airbag. In Hyundai’s defence it should be said that these features are also extra cost options on many of Lantra’s rivals.
On the road
As a mid-size car the Lantra is competing against some tough and technically refined opposition such as Corolla, Astra, Laser and Pulsar. The GLS Lantra, which has a larger capacity engine than these others, is up with the best of them in terms of outright performance but is by no means a sports car. The 2.0 litre DOHC 16 valve engine produces a healthy 101 kW of power at 6,000 rpm with maximum torque of 180 Nm at 4,800 rpm. A good spread of torque through the range gives it the flexibility to deal easily with stop start traffic. Driven conservatively the Lantra proved to be quite economical for a 2.0 litre, but when you take advantage of the performance available the fuel consumption rise accordingly. At the same time, noise levels are higher than we have come to expect in this class of car, with the main offender being engine noise which increases noticeably as the revs climb when accelerating through the gears. The gear change itself was better than other Hyundai’s we have driven but it still lacks a good positive feel.
Although light controls add to the driving ease, the car does not have quite the same dynamic poise and precision as some of its peers when the limits of handling and ride are explored. Putting the power to the ground via the front wheels, Lantra’s lack of refinement can be felt through the steering, with a touch of torque steer on hard acceleration. The softly sprung suspension is focused on ride comfort, but at times fails to deliver due to insufficient damper control which allows too much body movement for our liking. This is most evident when cornering, over speed humps and when braking hard. Even so, emergency stopping distances were not dramatically effective as the basic front disc / rear drum combination, helped by quality Michelin tyres managed to pull the test car up from 100 km/h in a respectable 50.1 metre average.
For a car of its size the Lantra offers good leg room, sufficient width to seat five and a useful size boot but could be a little tight on head room, particularly in the rear, for taller occupants. The layout is straight forward (almost Japanese style) with everything falling easily to hand but the hard plastic presentation confronting the drive is rather bland. It’s also unfortunate the general fit and finish inside does not match the good exterior build quality.
Scheduled servicing is every 15,000 km and a price check of our common parts basket found the Lantra parts to be relatively inexpensive, although there are exceptions like the main muffler.
Hyundai Lantra (1995-)
0-60 km/h 4.3 seconds
0-400 m. 16.7
60-100 km/h 6.7 (third gear)
Overall 9.5 L/100 km
Variation 8.1 to 12.5
Fuel Tank Capacity 55 L
Stopping distance from 100 km/h 50.1 m
* As measured on road test.