The Elantra is back after an overly long hiatus and boy, is it all grown up! The original car itself was quite impressive for its time, so this new one has a lot of expectations to live up to. Of course, by itself, it has certainly met and even exceeded most of them, but where the previous car was pretty much in a segment of its own, things are quite different now and that D-segment (ie, cars which straddle the 15 to 18 lakh rupee segment) is positively choc-a-bloc with highly capable and rather desirable cars which have come to us literally from the four corners of the globe. From France, we have the Renault Fluence, from Germany, the Volkswagen Jetta, neighbouring Czech Republic has sent us the Skoda Laura, all the way from the Americas (at least for namesake) it’s the Chevrolet Cruze and from Japan we’ve got the Toyota Corolla – all of them primed and raring to have a go at the upstart Korean. I’m going to say it right away – it is next to impossible to give a definitive verdict amongst this lot. They’re all very alike in some regards, especially with respect to the kind of basic features they offer. But if you explore their character, it’s almost like staring at a United Colours of Benetton advertisement. All of them make very strong cases for themselves and each of them will appease certain types of people (or so we’d like to imagine). The fact of the matter is, if you were a teacher with six equal bright pupils in your class and you were asked to pick the ‘best’ one, you would practically be at a loss to answer that question with unambiguous veracity. All you would be able to do is take into account your biases and simply pick your favourite. So similarly, rather than comparing these cars on the usual criteria, we’ll try to look at each one individually and see where its appeal lies. And for the basis of this comparison, we’ve lined up the top-of-the-range diesel models with manual gearboxes.