Financial Prudence | Hyundai Avante S

BY Marcus Lim

Hyundai's best-selling compact sedan gets updated

It might not seem like it, but the Hyundai Elantra/Avante twins have been plying local roads for a good 28 years now, since the introduction of the first-generation Elantra back in 1991 all the way to the sixth-generation model on sale today.

On that note, you might've noticed that the Avante and Elantra nameplates have taken turns being on Hyundai’s Singapore-market compact sedans throughout the generations, beginning with the fourth-generation model launched in 2007.

Confusing as it is, they’re both actually the same car, just badged differently for the Korean and export markets — much like how Honda sells their compact crossover as the Vezel in Japan, and as the HR-V everywhere else. If this inconsistency gets on your nerves, however, you’ll be happy to hear that the Avante model nomenclature is here to stay.

Technically, this isn’t an all-new model, but a (rather substantial) facelift of the previous model we knew as the Elantra AD. The exterior gets more aggressive styling all around, with acute angles replacing the Elantra AD’s friendly, tapered edges.

Aggressive it might be, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the new design language. Pointy angles and sharply raked lights look good on camera, but the fluid yet aggressive looks of the i30 or Ioniq are a bit more my thing.

Three trim levels are available — the base Avante, the mid-spec Avante S, and the top-tier Avante Elite. What we’ve got here is the Avante S, which misses out on some fancy gadgetry in the Avante Elite, but still has sufficient kit for a decent value proposition to most mass-market buyers.

Propelling the Avante is the same 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, producing 126 bhp and 155 Nm of torque. Despite lacking a turbocharger when compared to its stable mate the i30, the Avante feels sufficiently responsive and lively from a standstill.

Show the Avante some corners and you’ll notice the steering feels a bit artificial, but it turns out to be pleasantly accurate for a car in this class. Some fun can be had, but you’d do well swapping out the comfort-biased rubber for something more sporty if you’re a keen driver.

However, most Avantes will see themselves serving commuter duty, faithfully shuttling their owners to and from workplaces in predictably dreadful peak-hour traffic. Thankfully, ride comfort is as refined and supple as its predecessor, while remaining stable and planted at highway speeds.

In the cabin, the Avante S offers some creature comforts such as a wireless charging pad and an Android Auto/Apple CarPlay enabled head unit. Additionally, you also get cruise control, drive mode select (Eco, Normal and Sport), and a reverse camera as standard.

Interior trim is par for the course for a car in this price range, though surfaces you interact with on a daily basis — such as the steering wheel, radio, and air-conditioning knobs — are pleasant to the touch and feel rather well made.

Thanks to its sizable wheelbase, the Avante takes four adult passengers in relative comfort, with no complaints about legroom or bum-room on a 30-minute drive. Grocery shopping trips are also a cinch with the roomy 458-litre boot, swallowing everything you can fit in a trolley at Giant or NTUC Fairprice.

Certainly, if you’ve got 7 large just sitting in your pocket, the Avante Elite is brilliant with all the creature comforts you could reasonably want. However, at just $76,999 with COE (as of April 2019), the Avante S is poses excellent value for a family runabout — and that’s financial prudence.