What stands out?

The Elantra is the sedan version of Hyundai’s best-selling model, the i30 hatch. It has a different dashboard layout and comes only with a petrol engine. The Elantra has a pleasant and comfortable cabin, and lots of equipment for the money. The car covered in this review was superseded by an all-new Elantra in March 2016.

What might bug me?

You might find the steering feels a bit dull and lifeless.

Filling it with fuel: it uses more than some alternatives.

What body styles are there?

Four-door sedan only. (The hatchback and wagon versions are called the i30.)

All Elantras are front-wheel drive.

The Elantra is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features do all Elantras have?

Rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, heated exterior mirrors, and touchscreen control of cabin functions (5.0-inch screen for the least costly Elantra, the Active, and a 7.0-inch screen for the rest).

There are also front foglights, which improve vision in foggy conditions and make your car more visible to others in fog and rain.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and passenger; one each side of the front occupants; and a curtain airbag on each side protecting the heads of front and rear occupants.

Electronic stability control, which can automatically control a skid or slide. All new cars must have this feature.

All Elantras get a full-sized spare tyre.

All have a five-year warranty (two more than most rivals), with no limit on kilometres travelled in that time.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

A 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is the only engine available in the Elantra. It is most fuel-efficient with the manual gearbox, using a claimed average of 6.6 litres/100km. Choose the auto transmission and consumption is 7.1 litres/100km.

The manual and auto transmissions both have six ratios.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The Active is the only Elantra available with a manual transmission. The more expensive models – Elite and Premium – come standard with the auto.

Choose the Elite and you’ll get headlights that come on automatically at night, a reversing camera, and satellite navigation with the bigger touchscreen. There are also 16-inch aluminium-alloy wheels (nicer looking than the 15-inch steel wheels on the Active).

The Elite has dual-zone air-conditioning, which allows the driver and front passenger to set different temperatures. Automatic windscreen wipers come on when water is detected on the screen. A smart key unlocks the car without the need to take the key out of your pocket or bag.

The most costly model, the Premium, comes with bigger, 17-inch wheels, and wider tyres with a lower profile, which quicken the steering response and add grip. Seats are a mix of real and fake leather and are heated. The driver’s seat adjusts electrically. There are air-conditioning vents for the rear passengers.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Each step in the model range brings tyres that are larger in diameter and lower in profile, which ride a little more roughly. They could also cost more at replacement time.

White is the only standard colour: all other colours cost extra.

How comfortable is the Hyundai Elantra?

There is an elegant sweep to the Elantra’s dashboard and well laid-out controls, with the audio system placed high on the dash and the ventilation controls lower down, surrounding a big adjuster for fan speed.

Various shades of grey make for a conservative presentation, but it’s nicely put together to give it a quality appearance. The instruments and radio screen are illuminated in a distinctive blue hue.

The smaller, monochrome display on the Active has larger buttons surrounding it, while the Elite and Premium get a full colour screen that is easier to read and looks more elegant. The touchscreen can be quite bright at night and it dims on a separate electrical circuit from other instruments.

The seats are comfortable, although more side support would be appreciated to help keep occupants located better when cornering.

There is good vision, and at highway speeds the cabin is quiet.

However the 1.8-litre petrol engine is short on urge when you first press the accelerator pedal, and it gets noisy if you drive it hard.

What about safety in an Elantra?

With six airbags and stability control, the Elantra has a good level of safety.

However it is not available with more advanced crash avoidance features, such as automatic emergency braking.

The Elite and Premium get additional safety features, such as a reversing camera for better rear vision. Their automatic headlights and automatic windscreen wipers can act quicker than the driver might.

(To see a full list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the Elantra’s safety at five stars.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The 1.8-litre petrol isn’t overloaded with power but it is willing to rev, something that works well for those prepared to push it harder. It’s helped by the six-speed automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly.

The steering has a system called FlexSteer, which allows you to choose between a lighter and heavier feel. The middle Normal setting is the best for most situations. However the steering feels remote, and does not inspire confidence on roads with lots of twists and turns.

That said, through corners the Elantra is quite capable. While a large bump can upset its poise, generally it recovers quickly.

The extra grip from the wider tyres on the Premium not only adds to driver confidence but also generates a more immediate response to movement of the steering wheel.

How is life in the rear seats?

There is good leg room in the rear of an Elantra. The tapering roof line eats into head room, but that only becomes an issue for people over about 185cm tall.

Only the Premium model gets air vents in the back, to better circulate air and cool the cabin.

The base of the centre seat sits noticeably higher than the outer two, so that it feels unnaturally high and doesn’t have any side support – it is up to the other occupants to stop the centre person from sliding around.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The Elantra gets a large boot that stretches deep into the car. Those looking to carry more can fold the 60-40 split-fold seats.

For smaller items, the luggage nets on the Elite and Premium are great additions because they stop small items (or a couple of shopping bags) from rolling around in the boot.

Up front there are large pockets in the doors, cupholders in the centre console, and another covered console just ahead of the gear lever which is handy for storing valuables out of sight. The deep centre binnacle is also handy for larger items and small bags.

Where is it made?

The Elantra is produced in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and active cruise control, which are fitted to some Mazda3s for example.

Other cars you might consider include the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Honda Civic, Holden Cruze, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Jetta, Subaru Impreza and Kia Cerato.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

We like the Elantra Active. The addition of the larger colour touchscreen and a reversing camera, among other features, make it worth the extra spend.

When did Hyundai update this Elantra?

This Elantra went on sale in 2011 and a ‘Series 2’ update arrived early in 2014. An all-new Elantra arrived in March 2016, bringing a bigger and more responsive engine, a quieter cabin, more appealing steering and ride, and Apple CarPlay.