Previously responsible for cars like the Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago, Hyundai design boss Luc Donckerwolke has worked his magic on the company's compact car with what might be the most radical design in a segment that's frankly already full of radical designs. In short, the all-new 2021 Hyundai Elantra is the compact we all wanted when Hyundai poached the former Lambo designer back in 2015, but didn't think it would actually happen.
Heading into its seventh generation, the new Elantra trades in last year's Voltorb-look for a form that's longer, wider, lower, and way more upscale. Its jewel-pattern grille is inherited from Hyundai's glamorous Vision T Concept and integrates the turn signals, continuing Hyundai's newfound tradition of integrating lights into things that are not lights. Like the Honda Civic, the 2021 Elantra is one of those "four-door coupes" featuring a long, sloping roofline. Say what you will about the use of the word "coupe" here but the design itself is pretty darn nice.
Things are similarly upscale inside the cabin as well, with an "airplane cockpit-inspired" layout featuring two 10.25-inch screens stuck together, 64-color mood lighting, super-low door handles, mostly expanded dimensions, a massive passenger grab handle à la much pricier sports cars like the Jaguar F-Type and C7 Corvette, and segment-first wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto all wrapped up in a dash design that matches, if not exceeds, the swank of the Mazda3.
Beyond the mildly game-changing cosmetics, Hyundai has dropped another slight bombshell in the form of a Hybrid variant—the first-ever electrified Elantra. It uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and a 32-kW electric motor drawing juice from a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery mounted underneath the rear seats. Expected to get over 50 combined mpg, the Elantra Hybrid's powertrain puts out 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That power goes to the wheels through a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic presumably related to the gearbox out of the Kona.
The regular gas-powered Elantra, meanwhile, gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder putting out 147 hp and 132 pound-feet traveling through an "IVT", Hyundai's more Intelligent take on the Continuously Variable Transmission.
Further putting the Korean compact firmly into 2020, SmartSense active safety is standard while a Digital Key can be optioned, allowing the car to be unlocked and started via smartphone or NFC card.
Hyundai is, of course, touting the 2021 Elantra as lighter, stronger, more efficient, and more fun to drive than the outgoing model. We're looking forward to being the judge of that when the car rolls out in the fourth quarter of this year.
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