Hyundai whips up a five-door with a dash of sportiness
What it Is
2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring Preview – 2008 Chicago Auto Show:Hyundai takes its successful four-door sedan and makes it into a five-door, aka a hatchback or wagon. The Touring will use the same engine as the sedan and can be bought with either the four-speed, sport-shift automatic or the five-speed manual. As a nod to driving enthusiasts, Hyundai outfits the manual transmission with a short-throw shifter, while music lovers get an iPod connection via USB. Cargo space with the rear seats folded down is a healthy 65.3 cubic feet.Why it Matters
Hyundai sees the five door segment as one in which it can sell because it’s been popular the past few years. So the company is jumping in with the Touring, which will go up against the Chevrolet Aveo 5, Honda Fit, Kia Spectra 5 and Rio 5, Mazda 3 five-door, Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix, among others. In general, the five-door configuration offers more cargo room along with the four doors found on the sedan. That versatility explains the popularity of the Matrix and Mazda 3 models.
What’s Under the Hood
Hyundai uses the same 2.0-liter, in-line four-cylinder engine that powers the sedan. The engine produces either 132 or 138 horsepower and 133 or 136 lb.-ft. of torque depending on what state you’re in. The automatic transmission is four-speed with a sport shift mode, while the five-speed manual comes with a short-throw shifter for quicker gear changes. The Touring uses MacPherson strut suspension in front and a multi-link setup in the back.
What It Looks Like
The Elantra Touring has a re-styled front fascia, rising beltline and a back end that picks up on Volvo’s idea of putting taillamps up high next to the back window. The windshield pillars lead into creases on the hood, while the sides are clean except for a character line low on the body and running from the front wheel arch nearly to the rear arch. Overall, Hyundai has given the Touring a clean, sporty appearance.
To start with, XM Satellite radio and a USB iPod interface are on hand to serve up music through the 172-watt audio system. An iPod can be controlled through the steering wheel audio controls. Cargo space with the rear seats up is 24.3 cubic feet, and with the seats folded, grows to 65.3 cubic feet. Beyond those features, it’s the Elantra interior.
What Hyundai Says
The Korean carmaker describes the Elantra Touring as being sportier and more versatile than the sedan. With the cargo space, some exterior styling and the short-throw gearshift lever help back up that claim.
What We Think
Five-door cars, or a station wagon as they were called half a century ago, are handy things to own. You can carry four passengers and some cargo, or two people and lots of cargo. The other thing we like about them is that they’re often based on sedans we like, and sometimes on sporty sedans we love. The Elantra sedan isn’t terribly sporty, but it’s a good value. The Touring adds versatility and a some sporty touches.
By Bob Beamesderfer
MyRide Road Test Editor
Photo Credit: Hyundai