Hyundai has been on a massive roll as of late, with the South Korean car company recently launching the revamped 2020 Hyundai Sonata as well as adding more crossovers into the fold. But the company is now rolling out the next phase of its bold plans, with the unveiling of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra.
Unveiled via livestream due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the virtual unveiling did little to blunt some of the radical styling changes that Hyundai designers have made to the Elantra for the new model year. The pointy stubby look of the current car has been pitched, and while the current generation Elantra is widely considered as a step backward, Hyundai wanted to use the 2021 model as a chance to try and bring some of the magic back to the model. This all starts with a more elegant design that clearly draws some of its inspiration (and swoopy lines) from the bigger Sonata. Meanwhile, an all new platform stretches the wheelbase by nearly an inch and adds 2 inches to the overall length of the car. The Elantra is also wider and lower than before, with a shorter front overhang to really help complete the transformation. Hyundai reps claimed that this allows the Elantra to be a “four door coupe” though that is a very vague term, and the Elantra is not quite as coupe-ish as some other more expensive four door coupes. The lower roofline doesn’t affect headroom, with measurements falling largely in line with the old model. Ditto the legroom, with the 2021 Elantra retaining the 42.3 inches of front legroom, and 28 inches in the rear.
Perhaps the biggest leap here is in technology, and there is plenty to talk about in this particular department. The Elantra offers a whole suite of standard tech features, with even the base model featuring an 8.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (a big first for the segment.) Higher trims get a bigger 10.3 inch touchscreen system that is paired with an equally big digital gauge cluster. The two displays are nestled under one piece of glass, feature multiple configurations, and can even support two connected phones at once. This is a massive improvement over the old model, and the ability to support two phones at once is practically unheard of in its segment. An equally massive suite of safety equipment that adds goodies such as automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and a driver monitor system. Blind spot monitoring is an optional piece of kit along wit adaptive cruise control. Like the Sonata, the Elantra can be equipped with Hyundai’s smart key system which moves many functions from the fob to a connected smartphone.
The cabin itself is a very clean and efficient design, with Hyundai designers adding nice touches such as a revamped steering wheel, a more cohesive looking dashboard, and revised seats to help enhance long haul comfort.
Performance is a mixed bag, but in a good way with SE, SEL, and Premium models continuing to use the carryover 2.0 liter four cylinder engine that still makes 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. The headline maker here however is the hybrid model which is the first time the Elantra has ever offered such an option to its fanbase. This particular variant uses a 1.6 liter four cylinder engine, but pairs it with an electric motor to unleash a combined 139 horsepower, and a commendable 195 lb-ft of torque. Hyundai claims that the Elantra Hybrid is capable of nabbing 50 mpg in combined driving which would put it within firing range of the Honda Insight, and the Toyota Corolla Hybrid. And while Hyundai chose to not dive into it, look for a spicier N-Line variant to join the lineup soon to give the Elantra a fighting chance against The Civic Sport/Si.
Hyundai left us in the dark in terms of formal pricing for the 2021 Elantra, but the company did plan to begin production of the new Elantra both in Korea, as well as its Alabama plant later this year. Whether these plans have been upended by the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic remains to be seen, but even if it is delayed, look for the Elantra to add some vigor to the segment thanks to its sleek styling, as well as the potent amount of standard technology that comes baked into the design.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.