Glance through car sales figures these days and the sedan is a pale shadow of its former self. This is even more apparent in the executive sedan segment or the 'D' segment. While sales in the segment have fallen sharply, it has not stopped car makers from launching new products and keeping the segment alive.
Hyundai just recently launched its new Elantra and here we give you an exclusive comparison with its arch-rival, the Honda Civic.
When you are forking out more than Rs 20 lakh for a sedan, customers would want a sophisticated design and also a premium and sporty look, along with all the usual premium car embellishments.
Here, it is advantage Civic as it looks sleeker and grabs more eyeballs over the Elantra. The way the tail ends flows in neatly and of course those stunning 'C' shape tail-lamps do grab a lot of attention. Add in 17-inch wheels along with a red paint job and you have a crowd favourite.
The Elantra seems a bit more compact when sized up next to the Civic and is not as curvy as the last-generation one, but is still distinctly European in its look. Hyundai designs are getting modern and more European and that’s not a bad thing. The front is dominated by a huge grille while the rear with those big tail-lamps is the best angle. Also in red, just like the Civic, it cuts a sporty stance.
Interiors and features
Expectations are also sky-high inside as both car-makers have tried hard to appease buyers in their own respective ways.
The Elantra gets the more quality-laden interior. The materials and the design are now more premium than the last generation’s and that’s immediately apparent. The new Elantra gets a revised steering wheel while the centre-console is changed with a brushed silver finish running through the cabin. The biggest change though is the features list as Hyundai has thrown in pretty much everything here.
The big talking point is that the Elantra is now a 'connected sedan' as it gets the Bluelink tech with an embedded sim inside. Thus you can remote start and cool your car before even steeping into it and there is also a concierge service along with a whole lot of stuff crammed in.
The other bits we liked were the cooled and ventilated seats along with the superb 8-speaker audio system plus wireless charging. Of course stuff like 6 airbags, rear ac vents, touchscreen, sunroof is obviously present.
The Civic is sportier and the cabin design is more sci-fi. The centre-console is vast but neatly designed while the steering wheel and digital dials all scream sportiness. The quality is nearly as good as the Hyundai but maybe not as premium here.
However, the features list is pretty good with ambient lighting, sunroof, powered drivers seat , leather, rear ac vents and more. While it may lack the connected car tech or cooled seats of the Elantra, the Civic does get the useful lane watch camera system which projects the left side vision onto the screen. Both cars offer six airbags and all the safety features expected from cars at this price.
In terms of space and comfort, both cars are not exactly the easiest to get in and out owing to their low-slung proportions. However inside despite both having the same wheelbase, the Civic is the best for three and is the widest here. Legroom is also marginally better than the Elantra however the Elantra fights back with seats having more comfort plus offering more thigh support.
In terms of engines, the Honda gives you both petrol and diesel while the Hyundai is petrol only. We have both petrols in their automatic avatars as this configuration is what is favoured by buyers in this segment.
The Hyundai gets a BS6 2.0 petrol and develops 152 bhp and 192Nm. There is a 6-speed torque converter automatic offered. To start with, this engine is remarkably more refined and smoother than the spiky last-gen car. In the city, the automatic delivers seamless shifts but it is on the highway that the Elantra shoots ahead like a rocket. The 2.0 engine has a lot of punch and the automatic is reasonably quick which means that it gets to high speeds quickly. It also feels compact and agile to drive with very good body control.
There are drive modes on offer and ‘Sport’ really makes it quick while 'Normal' or 'Smart' is what we would recommend for daily use. In terms of ride quality, the new Elantra is a touch firm on the rough surfaces but becomes smooth eventually. In terms of mileage, we got 9-10 km/l.
The Civic has the sportier driving position due to the high-rising centre-console and feels more like a sports car behind the wheel. The engine is an 1.8l motor that makes 139 bhp and 174 Nm. The gearbox is a CVT auto and there is no manual being offered on the petrol unlike the Elantra.
In the city, the Civic is smooth, just like the Elantra, and the gearbox works perfectly as well. When pushed hard though it is not as quick as the Elantra and the CVT gearbox, though pretty good, is not suited for fun. However, solace comes in the fact that the Civic has paddle-shifters unlike the Elantra, and that gives you more control.
To drive hard, the Civic has the better steering over the Elantra but the Elantra feels more agile. In terms of ride, the Civic has the plusher ride quality though. When it comes to the Civic’s drinking habits, we got 10-11 km/l.
Hyundai has priced the Elantra rather aggressively, with a starting price of Rs 15.9 lakh while the top-end AT is available for Rs 20.4 lakh. The Civic is Rs 18 lakh starting and the top-end is Rs 21.2 lakh. The Civic also has some discounts being offered on it, mind you!
In terms of value-for-money, the Elantra makes more sense and is also more fun to drive. The Elantra has the bigger engine, is more agile and has more features and is cheaper.
However the Civic clearly has star-appeal owing to its stunning design and it also looks and feels bigger along with more space and a better ride.
Thus if you like performance and driving get the Elantra — its feature list will wow you. On the other hand if you are chauffeured and are seduced by the looks of the Civic then it is the car for you.
That said these two sedans offer way more than any other petrol car at this price. Happy shopping!