By BRENWIN NAIDU
A friend of mine was recently on the prowl for a new set of wheels. He considered almost everything that fell under his R200 000 budget, from a new Volkswagen Polo, to used models like the previous generation BMW X3 and even the Nissan Murano. But he settled for none of the above, eventually opting for something new on the market. He was elated to tell me that the latest machine to grace his garage, is the recently launched Hyundai Elantra – using adjectives like “awesome” and “beautiful” to express his joy.
A great deal seems to have changed with the Korean automaker, from being thought of as uninspiring in the past, to grabbing the attention of the car-buying public with their latest models, like the Elantra. It’s difficult to not sit up and take notice at Hyundai’s foray – even just from an aesthetic point of view. The Sonata for example is quite an attractive looking thing: sleek, shapely, with interesting kinks and lines. Reading articles on the websites of overseas motoring publications, one hopes to see models like the Genesis make an appearance locally sometime in the near future.
But let’s move to the lower end of Hyundai’s family tree, where the dainty i10 competes in the entry-level segment – shared by models like the Kia Picanto, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, Peugeot 107 and Volkswagen Polo Vivo. Looking at the baby Hyundai, you’ll see a strong resemblance to the rest of the models in the present line-up. The designers seem to have been successful in giving it a front-end in line with the distinct face developing across the range.
More subtly, the i10 has new rearview mirror housings, and at the rear, new light clusters. I think it looks bolder than Hyundai’s Atos, which was often referred to as a bit of a Noddy car in my circle of petrolhead friends. So even if you are a first-time buyer on a budget, the i10’s grown-up looks will mean that you won’t have to relinquish all your street cred, or be the at the receiving end of malicious Noddy jokes.
First up in the range is the 1.1 GLS, with a 1 086 cc engine that produces 50 kilowatts and 99 Newton-metres of torque. Then there’s the 1.2 GLS, which has a 1 248 cc four-cylinder powerplant, rendering figures of 64 kilowatts and 119 Newton-metres. With the 1.2 GLS, you can have either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox.
Even if you are on the market for a budget, entry-level vehicle with the mandate of “Getting from A to B”, you wouldn’t want to go without some of the creature comforts that make driving more pleasant. As standard, the i10 gets electric windows, a radio with MP3 compatibility as well as USB and Aux connections for your music player. Most importantly – given the onset of a sweltering South African spring, air-conditioning is also part of the standard kit. In terms of safety, the 1.1 GLS gets a driver’s airbag, while the 1.2 GLS gets airbags for driver and passenger. The 1.2 GLS is also equipped with ABS (Advanced Braking System) in addition to EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution).
Prices start off at around R99 900 for the 1.1 GLS, while the 1.2 GLS Automatic comes in at R119 900. You’ll also get Hyundai’s famous 5 year / 150 000 km warranty.