Hyundai's Avante, the facelifted version of the Elantra, is budget-friendly and modern-looking
Hyundai's Avante: Appealing family sedan Besides an infotainment touchscreen that has Apple and Android interfaces, Hyundai's Avante sports a sharp look, with features such as slim all-LED headlights. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN

In this day and age, a sedan is a novelty. And a budget-friendly family sedan which is not a yawn to look at nor to drive is an even bigger novelty.

Hyundai's Avante is one such sedan. Despite its age, it manages to stand out in a rising tide of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers.

The car was previously known as the Elantra. The sixth-generation Elantra was launched here three years ago. This latest Avante is a facelift of that car.

Mechanically, there is no material change in the Avante. Hyundai says the 1.6-litre inline-four engine and six-speed autobox are better paired to offer a smoother progress.

At the wheel, this is not apparent. But that is not an indictment. The original car was competent in this area and the facelifted version remains very much so.

While an output of 126bhp and 155Nm is relatively modest, the Hyundai is not averse to higher revs, which are often required for it to keep pace with faster traffic.

Even when nearing 5,000rpm, the Avante remains unusually calm for a 1.6-litre mass-market model. The inevitable rise in decibels aside, that is. Its only drawback is a higher-than-expected fuel consumption of close to 12 litres for 100km - much higher than its stated 6.7 litres for 100km.

Its chassis is still fairly impressive despite the passing of years. It has a settled feel usually associated with Continental premium makes, but could do with slightly better body roll mitigation.

What is apparent, though, is how visually different the car is. Hyundai has made enough cosmetic changes to qualify the car as an all-new model.

It sports a sharper and more modern front section, with slim all-LED headlights (Elite variant), a more prominent grille set in a folded bumper assembly housing triangular turning lamps placed like foglamps.

The rear is tweaked too, with a jazzed-up tail-lamp design that completes the contemporary transformation.

The modifications have made the car slightly longer. At 4,620mm, it is just 10mm shorter than the Honda Civic now.

Its wheelbase remains unchanged at 2,700mm, but its rear legroom seems more modest than cars with a similar wheelbase.

The most significant changes pertain to the cockpit. The Avante's infotainment touchscreen has Apple and Android interfaces, allowing you to pair your phone painlessly. Your phone will never run out of juice either, with the car's wireless charging pad.

Hyundai's Corolla beater comes with a revised instrumentation cluster and dual-zone climate control.

The Elite version gets ventilated front seats, which are much appreciated in Singapore.

Keyless access, cruise control, drive mode select, blindspot warning and windscreen with automatic defogging function are part of the package.

The car even has a sensor system which delays door unlocking if it senses an oncoming vehicle.

These are small things which add up to help make the Avante a credible contender in the hotly contested family car segment. Even if the segment is increasingly overrun by crossovers and SUVs.