Using a livestream webcast as a substitute for the originally planned media event in Los Angeles, Hyundai pulled the covers off its new, 2021 Elantra sedan Tuesday night.
The event still took place at the Lot Studios in West Hollywood, but only a handful of Hyundai executives and the video production team were on hand, the automaker canceling plans to bring in scores of journalists due to the rapidly expanding coronavirus pandemic.
The nonetheless splashy debut revealed a radically restyled version of the long-running sedan which now adopts a fastback coupe styling theme with unusual, triangular design elements. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra will get plenty of new technology which, fr the first time ever, will include a hybrid powertrain option.
The goal was to create “a dynamic disruptor of the compact sedan status quo,” said CJ Eckman, manager of connected car technology for the new Elantra, during the online unveiling.
(Hyundai one of several automakers reaching out to consumers worried about jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.)
The new Elantra rides on Hyundai’s third-generation compact car platform. The sedan grows 2.2 inches in length, to 184.1 inches, with its width expanding by an inch to 71.9. The wheelbase, in turn, was stretched 0.8 inches, to 107.1. But the 2021 model drops 0.8 inches in height, to 55.7 inches. That makes it one of the lowest, longest and widest models in the midsize segment.
Elantra’s distinctive look is likely to raise a bit of controversy. It becomes the second model, following the recently redesigned Sonata, to adopt the automaker’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design language. Rather than try to give the car a more SUV-like appearance, as some competitors have been opting for, the low hood, raked windshield and sweeping roofline add to the overall sportiness.
“While some manufacturers no longer see the value in the car side of the business, we’re doubling down by offering an all-new model with both gas and hybrid powertrains,” said Brian Smith, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.
(Hyundai offers a Prophecy of its future with striking new, all-electric concept car.)
One of the more distinctive details is the horizontal light bar that flows into vertical taillights, creating an “H” effect. Then there’s the triangular pattern that flows across the front and rear doors, a shape that Davis Lee, the chief designer on the 2021 Elantra program, admitted is normally “taboo.” The goal was “to break the established rules (with a shape) rarely used in automotive design.”
The influence of aerodynamics in the design is readily apparent, with the new Elantra adding details like front air curtains to reduce turbulence in the forward wheel well, as well as a rear spoiler wing.
Inside, the cabin has a low and wide feel, accented by the flow of instrument panel. There is a cockpit-like layout accented by the “cornering handle” for the front passenger.
One of the visual features likely to catch a buyer’s attention is the display screen that flows two-thirds of the way across the instrument panel. It seamlessly blends a reconfigurable gauge cluster with a 10.5-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, both mounted behind a curved glass.
Fittingly for the younger buyers Hyundai hopes to appeal to with the 2021 Elantra, there is plenty of new technology built into the sedan, starting with the Hyundai Digital Key that can unlock and even start the Elantra from up to 90 feet away using a smartphone app. The Elantra gets the new, wireless version of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as Qi wireless charging.
(Hyundai partnering with EV maker Canoo on future battery-cars.)
The infotainment system adopts a new, natural language system that lets a user speak in plain English, whether to plug in a destination or even to turn on the seat heaters. A Bose Premium audio system is available, as well.
SmartSense safety features include:
· Forward Collision Avoidance with Pedestrian Detection;
· Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Following Assist;
· Driver Attention Warning and other systems.
Blind spot warning and smart cruise control are among the optional safety features.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra initially will be offered with a choice of two powertrains:
· A 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle Inline-four making 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque – which is paired to a continuously variable transmission; and
· Elantra’s first-ever hybrid pairing a 1.6-liter gas engine to a 32 kilowatt electric motor and a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The package makes 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque.
Hyundai expects to offer best-in-class mileage for the gas-powered package when EPA numbers are released, while it is projecting fuel economy of up to 50 mpg for the hybrid. The gas-electric model also will be able to run short distances in all-electric mode using a 1.32 kWh lithium-ion battery.
Longer-term, a third package is in the works, a high-performance version of the Elantra, hinted Hyundai’s U.S. CEO Carlos Munoz.
“We are committed to performance (and) we will develop an N-Line version of all new Elantra,” with details to come later.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra will be produced both in South Korea and at Hyundai’s assembly plant in Alabama. It is expected to reach U.S. showrooms during the fourth quarter of this year.