I wasn’t too keen on the redesigned Hyundai Elantra I drove last year. In the review, I said it didn’t really do enough to compete with the likes of the Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic. But maybe the model could redeem itself with the introduction of the Elantra Sport. Hyundai made some key changes such as adding a turbo engine, revised rear suspension, and slight tweaks inside and out.
I was really excited to check it out and spend some quality time with it. But life had other plans. The day I was supposed to get the Elantra Sport, I took a tumble down a flight of stairs, causing a fracture in my right leg. Because of this, I really didn’t get to spent a lot of time in the Sport. This is going to be more of a first impressions piece than a review. Hopefully, in the near future, I get to spend some time in the Sport again, barring any injuries.
- Hyundai only made some small changes such as a blacked out grille, side skirts, rear diffuser, and 18-inch alloy wheels for the Sport. The end result is something that stands out from other Elantra’s, but not to the point where it looks like someone went on a shopping spree in the JC Whitney catalog.
- The only changes the Elantra Sport gets inside are new front seats with extra side bolstering, different gauge layout, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Otherwise, it is your standard Elantra interior which isn’t a bad thing. The simple dash layout comes paired with the use higher quality materials. Back seat space has seen a nice improvement in terms of legroom, while headroom is still slightly tight for taller folks.
- Under the hood is a new turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This can be paired with a six-speed manual or my tester’s seven-speed DCT. It should be noted this engine is also being used in the recently refreshed Kia Soul! (Exclaim), but it only comes with the DCT.
- First impressions of this powertrain were disappointing. It doesn’t feel eager to accelerate quickly as the DCT bogs down at lower speeds. Once above a certain speed, the powertrain becomes alive. Hyundai engineered the 1.6 to deliver torque evenly across the rpm band which gives the impression that you will not run out of steam anytime soon. The DCT delivers quick up and downshifts.
- You can remove most of the bogginess by putting the vehicle into the Sport mode which sharpens the throttle response and quickens gear changes. This makes the Elantra Sport raring to go when leaving from a stop or acerbating from a corner.
- Underneath the Elantra Sport’s skin, Hyundai has made some significant changes to the chassis. The big change is a new multi-link rear suspension setup that is said to improve the driving dynamics. There is also revised springs, dampers, and steering ratio.
- End result? This is Hyundai’s best effort in making a fun to drive vehicle. Body roll is minimized and the vehicle feels poised when going into a corner. Steering is still a mixed bag. Turn-in is quick and there is plenty of weight, but there is barely any feedback from the road. For a sporty model, it is a bit disappointing.
- Compared to the standard Elantra, the Sport does let a few bumps come inside. But it isn’t to a point where your back will be in pain. There’s a nice balance between handling and comfort.
- Pricing for the Elantra Sport starts at $21,650 for the manual and $22,750 for the DCT. The Elantra Sport seen here came with an as-tested price of $25,985 as it featured an optional premium package that adds a number of features such as an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, sunroof, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, and upgraded audio system.
- Where does the Elantra Sport fit in? It is like the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo/NISMO where it is sportier than the standard model, but not a full blown sport compact like the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST. Think of it a warm compact and one that is quite surprising (for the brief time I drove it).
Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra Sport, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: 1.6 Turbo GDI DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder
Driveline: Seven-speed DCT, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6000
Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1500~4500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/33/29
Curb Weight: 3,131 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, Alabama
Base Price: $22,750
As Tested Price: $25,985 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)
Premium Package for Sport - $2,400.00