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With apologies to Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being Hyundai. The Korean carmaker has delivered a variety of surprising new offerings, in recent years, with some game changers in the works, including its Genesis luxury sedan.
But to many, Hyundai is still defined by its smallest and least expensive models. And that’s where the automaker is making a big push to upgrade itself in the eyes of the public, improving quality, developing more distinctive design and adding more performance and upscale features.
A good example of that strategy went on display at the Chicago Auto Show in the form of the 2009 Elantra Touring, a roomy and decidedly more upscale five-door than Hyundai has traditionally been known for.
The hatchback/wagon is based off the automaker’s I30 global architecture, much like the base Elantra, but the automaker has taken steps to give it a sportier ride and feel. Its McPherson strut front suspension and independent rear, for example, are about 30 percent stiffer.
The 2.0-liter in-line-four powertrain makes 140 horsepower. And the Touring rides on V-rated tires.
The Elantra Touring plays with a bunch of big boys – at least in terms of their market perception – including the Toyota Matrix, Dodge Caliber, and Mazda3. One selling point for Hyundai is that the new hatchback will be the first in its segment to offer standard electronic stability control, as well as six airbags, ABS, brake force distribution, and traction control.
On the convenience side, it will also deliver an integrated iPod/MP3 jack.
2008 Chicago Auto Show. Big things in the City by the Lake. (2/6/2008)