THE embattled family six-cylinder has another problem _ Hyundai's new Elantra.
This is being touted as the Korean manufacturer's "big small car'' and it has the comfort, safety, and economy to lure some larger car buyers marginalised by rising fuel costs.
Elantra has already been elevated into the medium class in the United States, so generous are its proportions.
Here, it comes up against a host of small car competitors, including Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Tiida and Holden Astra.
Hyundai director of sales and marketing Theo van Doore said Elantra was perfect for the Australian family looking for an alternative to the traditional V6.
He said the timing could not be better for its release, due early October.
Elantra is Hyundai’s best seller globally and second best mover in Australia behind its boom baby, the Getz.
The stunning fourth generation of the stable star has just been launched to the motoring press.
They were given a three-hour whirl through the Gold Coast hinterland, on a trip that combined winding back roads, hills and some highway cruising.
Motoring writers also visited the driver training centre at Mt Cotton and were given a stark demonstration of the lifesaving capabilities of electronic stability control (ESP), which Hyundai is offering on Elantra as part of a $1790 Protectz Pack.
Value for money has always been Hyundai’s main asset.
However, in recent times the Korean carmaker has shown it can produce vehicles with a high degree of quality and style.
Elantra sedan builds on this up-market trend, bringing a fresh and elegant new look not unlike its bigger sibling, Sonata.
Substantially roomier than Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, it sits 65mm taller and 50mm wider than its predecessor.
There is plenty of room for five passengers and visibility for the driver is excellent thanks to the higher perch.
New levels of detail and craftsmanship are found throughout the interior, which is full of clever and practical design elements.
The instrument panel, with its blue lighting, is very easy on the eye and there are big door pockets, a central storage bin with padded armrest and cup-holders for everyone.
There is an impressive list of standard features, even on the base model SX.
This includes driver and passenger airbags, ABS with EBD, power windows and mirrors, airconditioning, remote central locking, a four-speaker MP3 compatible stereo, tilt adjustable steering wheel, and a split-fold rear seat.
There are four versions of the new Elantra _ the SX, SLX, Elite and Elite S. A Euro-hatch, and possibly a wagon, will be added next year.
SX starts at $19,990 for the manual and the range climbs to the luxurious Elite S for $28,990.
All are offered with a tweaked version of the existing 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine.
This modest unit doesn’t threaten to pull the driver’s arm out of their sockets, but is handy enough.
And it delivers sound fuel economy, consuming an average of 7.8 litres for every 100km covered.
The engine is matched to either a five-speed manual, or smooth four-speed automatic transmission, as sampled.
Elantra’s steering has a light feel, which might not suit everyone, but the newcomer shows plenty of class in most other departments.
Ride quality is outstanding and very little noise makes it way into the cabin.
Hyundai is serving up a fresh palette of exterior colours for Elantra, including continental silver, rose red, moonlight blue, violet pearl, indigo blue, stone black, metallic sand, crystal white and steel grey.
Inside, you can have grey or black cloth trim, or leather in the higher specification variants.
Backed by its spacious interior, refined looks, safety features and sharp pricing, Elantra is sure to find plenty of admirers.
Hyundai expects to sell up to 800 of them a month. Excited dealers should have some in stock by the beginning of next month.