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The 2021 Hyundai Elantra will not go into production until later this year, but Hyundai isn’t letting that get in the way of its efforts to hype up its redesigned compact. That’s how we ended up with an early prototype of the new sedan in the Autoblog test fleet for a week — on the condition that we didn’t talk about driving it. That will have to wait until production units are doled out in the fall. Fair enough.

We were given a Limited model, which will be available on both the regular Elantra and the new Elantra Hybrid. This is as loaded up as the new sedan gets; there are no packages planned for this trim. For a week, we were able to crawl all over the car and get a feel for what customers can expect when they start to appear in showrooms. We’ve already gone over the interior, including five features we love (and one we don’t). Now it’s time to take a closer look outside in words and photos (below) as well as in video (above).

Hyundai refers to the new Elantra’s design philosophy as an exercise in “parametric dynamics.” In layman’s terms, it’s essentially a bunch of relatively straight lines intersecting to create angular surfaces. It’s so angular that it prompted our West Coast Editor James Riswick to wonder whether it was designed by a knife enthusiast.

There are essentially three signature elements to the Elantra’s exterior. The most significant is the Z-shaped sculpting that is obvious in the sedan’s profile. This shape spans every panel on the Elantra’s flanks, starting just aft of the front wheel well and terminating where the taillight meets the integrated rear spoiler. The effect is just as dramatic in person as it is in photos. 

Where that line terminates, we find another of the Elantra’s big eye-grabbers. The tiered look of the Elantra’s rear box (a design term referring to the trunk section) features the convergence of many of the lines that run along the Elantra’s sides, and from some angles even gives off a vaguely Saab-like vibe when it’s not screaming “Honda Civic.” Squint if you need to, but it’s there.

The third highlight is the “H” formed by the Elantra’s full-width rear lighting, which is accented (Accent-ed?) by the dramatic overhang of its trunklid. There’s a lot going on back here, and taken separately, it threatens to be excessively busy. From a distance, though, it works. 

The angular themes continue into all of the Elantra’s smaller details. The grille and fog lamp surrounds up front are composed almost entirely of straight lines, as is the rear bumper finisher. 

As you peruse our gallery, keep in mind that the panel fit and finish are both pre-production, and some details may change slightly before the 2021 Hyundai Elantra arrives in dealerships this fall. Shortly before that happens, we expect to get our hands on a production example of Hyundai’s redesigned compact for a thorough road test. Stay tuned.

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