2012 Hyundai Elantra Active (base model) 1.8 litre 4 cylinder
Best value, most car for the money, economical and comfortable
Nothing has gone wrong yet, the car is only a few months old in my ownership. I will update this if something goes wrong.
The car is comfortable; the seats have good support. They do not have lumbar adjustment, so if it doesn't work for your back, you may be out of luck.
There is a good level of standard equipment; touch screen audio system, 5 star safety rating with driver/passenger/curtain and side air bags, bluetooth, trip computer.
The cabin has all plastic door trim and a hard plastic parcel shelf, but aside from these surfaces, it's a nice place to be, which I have done so for more than 100 hours now (the trip computer tells you how long you have been driving for). The instrument cluster is permanently backlit, and the accelerator pedal is mounted from the floor like the German manufacturers.
I can seat 4 adults in comfort in the cabin; one of whom is very tall, although we balance this out by having someone who is very short sit in front of or behind him. The trunk/boot space is excellent. Also the split folding rear seats have a decent opening to pass things through; I have stage pianos and P.A. gear, and I can fit them through the opening, making this car practical for my needs.
The air conditioning vents are the one thing I don't really like. The ones in the middle of the car are mounted too low to aim them in a flexible manner, and so air either blows on my hand directly or not on me at all; the one disappointment in this car.
Cabin noise is low on most surfaces on the stock "eco" tyres. Handling is competent and the ride quality feels well controlled, with big bumps damped quickly and little ones fairly well absorbed.
Performance; well it's not a sports car, but for all normal driving purposes you will have no problems. The car takes off well if pushed. However this is an economical car, and if driven gently will reward you with good in town fuel economy, especially for a car of this passenger/cargo capacity (I average between 7.5 and 8 litres per hundred km purely in town in Sydney).
Australia is generally more expensive to buy a car in, but Hyundai Australia have been making this good value; I paid $18200 drive away for my silver active manual Elantra, including 3rd party insurance, roadside assistance for a year, and all other roadside costs. The service intervals are 15000 km or once a year, and I have been told it is capped at $270 per service. I did not purchase any optional extras; just their floor mats (the driver's floor mat has a screw arrangement to attach it to the floor; mine has come off and will actually need a screwdriver to reattach it! I think this could have been better designed). To put this into context, a 3 door Toyota Yaris at the same time cost $16k, and I was unable to get a Honda Jazz 1.2 litre Vibe manual for $17200!!! Both of these are much smaller cars.
While I would say panel gaps and fit and finish are still better in the Japanese brands (specifically carpet fitting, gaps between plastic trim and the windscreen on the A pillar and the ceiling upholstery), this is not normally noticeable and I only noticed because I was running a dash cam cable from behind the rear view mirror along the ceiling, down the A pillar and around the edge of the carpet of the passenger footwell. In fact this made it easier to install the dash cam :D.
All in all, the car is excellent value and even fun to drive. Assuming reliability is solid (and it does have an excellent 5 year warranty) I will be driving this for a long time!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th June, 2013