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William Maley

Quick Drive: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport

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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

Year: 2017
Make: Hyundai
Model: Elantra
Trim: Sport
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)

Options:
Premium Package for Sport - $2,400.00


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      View full article
    • By William Maley
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      My first impression of the Elantra GT’s interior was, “this is more interesting to look at than the Elantra sedan”. The dash design is clean with sculpting along the passenger side to provide some visual differentiation. Sport models feature red accent trim around the vents and stitching on the seats to give off the impression of sportiness. Material quality is average for the class with an equal mix of hard and soft-touch materials. Passengers sitting up front will find controls to be in easy reach and the seats offering adequate comfort. Taller passengers sitting in the back will be complaining about the minuscule amount of legroom. With the driver’s seat set in my position, I found my knees were almost touching the back of it. The Elantra GT’s cargo space is towards the top of the class with 24.9 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 55.1 cubic feet when folded.
      All Elantra GT’s get Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system housed either in a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen mounted on top of the dash. Our tester came with the larger 8-inch screen with navigation. Hyundai’s BlueLink system is one our favorite infotainment system with an easy-to-understand user interface, physical shortcut buttons around the screen, and snappy performance. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard and bring more capability to BlueLink.
      Under the hood of the Elantra GT Sport is a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is the same engine you’ll find in the Elantra Sport and Kia Soul !. A six-speed manual is standard, but the model seen here had the optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The first couple of days driving the Elantra GT Sport was somewhat of a disappointment. The throttle felt very sluggish, not letting the turbo engine provide a rush of power. Not helping was the transmission which was focused more on upshifting quickly, along with stumbling with gear changes at low speeds. But I soon figured out that putting the vehicle into Sport mode makes the vehicle much more lively. The throttle loosens up and allows the engine to exploit its full potential. The transmission seems to hold on to gears slightly longer to allow for improved performance. My hunch is that the standard drive mode is actually an eco mode to maximize fuel economy. I would like to see Hyundai add a separate eco mode and have the standard driving mode be a balance of eco and sport.
      In terms of fuel economy, the Elantra GT Sport is rated at 26 City/32 Highway/28 Combined with the DCT. My average for the week landed around 27 mpg with a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving.
      The Elantra GT Sport’s handling is Hyundai’s best effort to date. Sport models swap the torsion beam rear suspension found on the standard GT for a sport-tuned multilink setup. This swap makes the Elantra GT quite nimble in the corners with little body roll and feels poised. Steering provides decent weight when turning. The sporty setup does mean the Elantra GT Sport has a compliant ride with more road imperfections being transmitted. Not much wind noise comes inside, but a fair amount of road noise does.
      The Elantra GT Sport is so close to being a viable alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. It offers a clean exterior look, well-equipped interior, spacious cargo area, and impressive handling characteristics. But the programming of the standard drive mode dents the appeal of the Sport, making it feel less ‘sporty’. Hopefully, Hyundai has some plans to tweak the drive mode programming and dual-clutch transmission. 
      Hyundai has an agreeable compact hatchback in the form of the Elantra GT Sport. But we think given a little bit more time and work, it could be one of the best.
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra GT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Elantra GT
      Trim: Sport A/T
      Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC D-CVVT GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed dual-Clutch
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 ~ 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/32/28
      Curb Weight: 3,155 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $24,350
      As Tested Price: $29,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Sport Tech Package - $3,850.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
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