Our Ã¢â‚¬Å“DrivenÃ¢â‚¬Â series highlights the several cars I was able to sample at IMPAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spring Brake 2009 event. These short takes are summaries of my driving impressions of the cars on the roads surrounding Bear Mountain State Park in Rockland County, New York.Ã‚Â
Of the two Hyundai’s available to drive (the other was the Genesis Coupe), this is the one I had to get my hands on first. I was pleased Hyundai had supplied the Touring with a 5-speed and the attractive 17″ alloy wheels. First of all, this is a small but handsome car with a more sporting character than we’ve seen from prior Hyundai’s. You see, the Elantra Touring is not a new car, but rather a car built for the European market, that we are now just meeting. The Elantra Touring presents itself as clean, sporty, and even elegant in the dark grey metallic the car wore.
Inside, the styling continues to impress. Clear and simple, no clutter. All gauges and controls are easy to read and simple to use. Features like a power sunroof and heated seats are welcome surprises in a car costs under $20,000USD as equipped. The plastics and materials feel good, if not quite on par to a Honda Civic. Still, much better than I had expected. Another surprise was the rear seat, which had much more legroom than the VW Jetta Sportwagen on hand.
On the twisty roads surrounding Bear Mountain State Park, you leaned heavily on the Elantra’s 140 horses, but the four revved willingly, and the 5-speed manual was a pleasure to use. The weighting of the steering felt just right, and the brakes inspired confidence as well. It was easy to forget you were behind the wheel of a station wagon. From a standstill the Elantra had no trouble getting up to speed, and cruised comfortably at highway speeds, even with the sunroof open.
Altogether a very impressive package from Hyundai. No other car maker is trying harder to win the hearts of North American buyers than Hyundai, and it is showing. They have had success, but in the Elantra Touring, this could be the tipping point of swaying the buyer who would always default to a Golf of Jetta.