Battle of the Execs

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SummaryFirst introduced globally in 1966, into its eleventh generation now, produced in 15-odd countries, the best-selling nameplate in history with close to 39 million units sold in over 140 countries till date—this car is a hero.

Launched last year, Hyundai’s Neo Fluidic Elantra has seen sales rise in an otherwise shrinking executive segment, and has eaten into the sales of market leader Toyota Corolla Altis. We find out how good the new Elantra is as compared to the Corolla

First introduced globally in 1966, into its eleventh generation now, produced in 15-odd countries, the best-selling nameplate in history with close to 39 million units sold in over 140 countries till date—this car is a hero. And, India is no exception. Introduced in India in 2003, the Toyota Corolla, in a way, not only created the executive segment, but has also led it from the front.

First introduced globally in 1990, into its fifth generation now, saw few highs and many lows, adopted Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ styling theme and relaunched as the Neo Fluidic Elantra in 2010, became the 2012 North American car of the year, has seen only highs since then—this car isn’t less either. The Elantra entered India in 2004 but was discontinued in 2007 due to low demand, then it re-entered in August 2012 and has seen rising sales in an otherwise shrinking executive segment.

Last year’s sales data shows us that while 4,214 Corollas were sold in the April-December 2012-13 period (down from 6,206 in the same period a year ago), as many as 3,052 Elantras were bought by Indians in the much shorter August-December period.

So, how good is the new Elantra as compared to the market leader, the Corolla?

First impression

What has massively worked for the new Elantra is the fluidic sculpture styling theme—also seen on the Eon, the new Verna and the new Sonata—which essentially makes the buyer go: “I wanna buy it for the way it looks!” In fact, the design is so radical that the car, though six months into India, still makes people turn their heads wherever it goes. Although from the front it looks a bit like Verna, the stance changes once you look at it from the side, with the coupé-like sloping roofline among its finest features. The tail lamps stretch a lot into the side body and look quite good.

The Corolla, on the other hand, has traditional design lines that only a decreasing number of people find classy or attractive. The large number of Corollas on Indian roads means that it is rarely looked at twice. (We, in India, still get the tenth generation Corolla Altis). Where the Corolla

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