2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport

There’s an unfair attitude that has developed in the car-reviewing business known as the “Korean curve.” It’s a reaction to the comparatively rapid progress that Hyundai and Kia have made in evolving their lineups from a collection of truly awful little cars into ranges of products that can compete with the best in the business. This transformation is undeniably impressive. The problem comes when reviewers, rather than pitching it straight over the plate and evaluating the merits of these new models­—or the lack thereof—praise them as excellent Korean cars. Such curveballs presume that Hyundais and Kias are inherently inferior to products from other manufacturers, which is as unfair as it is untrue. It’s the automotive equivalent of saying, “You throw well for a girl.” Let’s just retire this stereotype now; with Hyundai Motor Company launching its Genesis luxury brand, there can be no better time.

We can start by considering the new Hyundai Elantra Sport in the context of class-leading compacts such as the Mazda 3 and the Volkswagen Golf. Those are our two favorites, each having won multiple 10Best Cars awards in their current generations. In marked contrast, the Sport is the third new Elantra model to be introduced in the past year, coming after the standard 2.0-liter version and the fuel-sipping Eco model. Like the other new Elantras, the Sport is available only as a sedan.

It starts at $22,485 with a six-speed manual transmission; add $1100 for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. That’s as much as $4500 more than other Elantras, with the extra outlay covering some significant mechanical upgrades: The Sport’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 54 more horsepower than the standard model, and a multilink rear suspension replaces the torsion-beam axle used in other Elantras. The front brakes are upgraded to 12.0-inch rotors, and exclusive 18-inch wheels with performance all-season rubber are fitted at the four corners. Hyundai says this all adds about 150 pounds to the curb weight, which is roughly 3000 pounds for the Sport. Fresh front and rear fascias and dual exhaust tips visually distinguish the Sport from other Elantras.


Feels Quicker and Quite Good

If any Elantra was going to impress us, this would be it. The turbo 1.6-liter is quick to rev and makes good power; it also makes a lot of noise, not all of it pleasant. The Sport puts its best foot forward when our right foot is on the brake pedal, which is firm and gives the brakes a solid, progressive bite. But apart from going and stopping, the Elantra Sport needs more work. The manual shifter is topped with a nice round VW Golf–like ball, but the lever is a bit long. The automatic simply shifts too slowly to be sporty. Similarly, the flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped wheel feels great in your hands, yet the steering feel and feedback are lacking. The Elantra Sport rides stiffly and corners confidently, but the car never feels as fluid as the Mazda and the suspension lacks the exquisite ride quality of the VW. Read more...

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30 Dec 2016