This is unfortunate because one of their cars has just been replaced with a new model which is Hyundai's most competent effort yet at a proper family-sized vehicle. And later this year, a common rail diesel engine will be introduced, which should help keep running costs low, while offering reduced CO2 emissions.
After a year when UK sales fell from around 28,000 to 26,000, and with an ultimate sales target of 30,000, Hyundai will be relying on its new niche models to boost figures, while the new Elantra is expected to continue where the old Lantra left off. The Elantra is now on sale in the UK and has increased in size - it's a proper upper-medium car rather than straddling that sector from the one below. Wisely, Hyundai is not aiming the car at rivals at the top of the market like the Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo and Renault Laguna, instead targeting the lower end of the price spectrum, like the Toyota Avensis, Vauxhall Vectra and Skoda Octavia.
The Elantra would not win any beauty contests, but it is more conventional looking than the odd-ball Sonata and, while not exciting, is inoffensive with the hatchback looking slightly better proportioned than the saloon. There was an estate version of the old Lantra, but that has been dropped. A compact MPV, called the Matrix, due from Hyundai later in the year is expected to fill the gap. Inside, the Elantra has the sort of kit you would expect in a modern upper-medium saloon, with four airbags, electric windows, ABS a CD player, while the top-spec CDX is loaded for the price of a mid-range Vectra or Avensis.
Engines are developments of the existing 1.6 and 2.0-litre models, but refinement is improved with added sound insulation. Even with the rev counter heading towards the red line, the noise of both engines was remarkably subdued for a budget car - Daewoo take note. Carbon dioxide emissions on the 1.6- litre are also good, with the manual producing 176g/km.
The Elantra is comfortable inside, providing adequate room for five people, and while it is not in the same league for space as a Mondeo, anyone moving from an Avensis or Octavia would have no cause for complaint. Dynamically there are no real problems with the way the Elantra drives. Ride quality is neither cossetting nor harsh, while handling is neither sharp nor soggy. Buyers of the Elantra will not expect to be excited by the way it drives, but its performance is nothing to be ashamed of.
The best value model in the range is the 1.6 GSi which provides an able and well-equipped upper-medium sector car for £12,199 on-the-road. With such a lack of excitement offered at the lower-price end of the sector, the Elantra could make sense.