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Hyundai dubs the all new Elantra the “Wind of Change.” They’ve got to be kidding us. This ain’t no wind. This is a slammin’, ravishin’, tropical cyclone!

Someone spiked the punch. Surely the 2012 Hyundai Elantra has neither horsepower nor torque below 300? Or have I just grown too accustomed to sitting in Manila traffic that any decent acceleration makes me feel like I’m being threatened with whiplash?

And I wasn’t even driving the 1.8L GLS.

My rain-soaked week in August with the Elantra 1.6 GL AT was brightened up by eye-popping speed. And all from a machine that offers no more than 130hp with 157Nm torque?

The Hyundai engineers must be sprinkling fairy dust on their engines.

To run the Elantra through the ultimate handling test, I spun it around the 2-km Elliptical Road in Quezon City at midnight.

That post-Habagat Elliptical Road may have been the ugliest driving surface known to man. Same-lane uneven paving, deep cracks across two lanes, dark, mysterious pools of water that gave no hint of their depth, and careening buses. It made me want to give up my journalistic career to lobby in Congress for all midnight drivers to be given a breathalyzer test.

The Elantra was speedier than even the craziest bus or cab that night. All it took was the slightest pressure on the accelerator and I left them all sputtering in inky water.

I took it two lanes then three, whipped it around the inner lane, and I felt no protest.

But one thing surprised me. I could feel all the cracks and bumps. Something that didn’t happen when I was driving the Accent. Very strange.

Inside the Cyclone
Sitting behind the wheel of the Elantra will make you feel like you’re in the cockpit of a very small, very futuristic airplane. The speed helps. But it has mostly to do with the dashboard layout. The gear stick is located on a very airplane-ish central pedestal. Even the AC design, seen against the space just before the central panel sweeps up left and right, looks like it belongs in the Millennium Falcon. (I haven’t watched a sci-fi flick since before the, um, millennium.)

The cockpit, I mean, the cabin is a curvilinear interplay of glossy ebony and silvery gray. The tilt and telescopic steering, with a wheel molded to fit perfectly into the human hand in four areas, adds to the already pleasurable handling.

The audio display and controls are minimalist. Not my preference because I want a big display with lots of buttons and a touch-screen. I was irritated, quite frankly, until I remembered that I wasdriving a machine that was way below the Php1M mark. It’s easy to forget the price tag when you’re driving a car that goes from 0–100 in 8.51 seconds.

I saw it on YouTube. I’m still not crazy enough to take any car that fast around Elliptical.

Outside the Storm
Even covered in mud, the Elantra’s aggressive, hawk-like contours are a sight to behold

The razor-like sweeps in the exterior make the Elantra look like it was born yesterday. The 2012 Elantra makes most cars on Manila’s roads today look like they were just spat out by the DeLorean time machine traveling back from 2001.

Did you know that ‘hyundai’ is Korean for ‘modernity’? One look at the 2012 Elantra and anyone would say the company is pretty spot on.

As for fuel economy, all I can say is that anyone who achieves 5.3L/100km deserves a hearty handshake. I could never do it. I do not have enough self-control to drive under 60 in this automotive wonder.

Print ed: 09/12


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