Call us skeptics all you want, but whenever a carmaker tacks the word “sport” onto an existing model, we instantly look for reasons to cry foul. And when it comes to Hyundai, well they haven’t really delivered too much in the way of “sporty” goods lately. Well, let’s see if that changes with a new Elantra sport.
When we last left the 2017 Hyundai Elantra, we predicted its increased refinement and competency would do wonders to help it become increasingly competitive against more established rivals from Honda and Toyota.
Well that has indeed been the case, so adding a Sport version into the mix, should only help the cause even more. Right?
And, hiring a BMW M engineering veteran to help put an all new multi-link suspension under the rear of this sedan is certainly a good way to start. The Elantra Sport’s new setup really makes it feel well-balanced and nimble; yet there’s no harshness to it, as overall ride quality remains quite good.
Front and rear spring rates are increased, thicker stabilizer bars are in place, and standard wheels are 18s. The total result is nicely solid grip through the cones. It stayed surprisingly flat as well, with enough steering feel to bring a smile or two to our faces. So, yea!
Hyundai’s 1.6-liter I4 turbo deals out the power; with horsepower at 201; torque, at 195 lb-ft. And there’s even a 6-speed manual transmission standard. A 7-speed DCT is available.
With the manual, we launched the Sport to 60 in 7.0-seconds flat; two seconds quicker than our last Elantra sedan test. Engine noise is, however, fairly pronounced; making us wish the more pleasing notes coming from the exhaust were louder.
We love the manual tranny. Shifter throws might be a little long for some, but come on, this is not a high-dollar performance car; just enjoy the fact that you get to have some interaction with a car for a change.
The ¼-mile was almost two seconds quicker too, at 15.6-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour. Quite a difference; and combined with the handling attributes, we think Hyundai has done more than enough to earn the Sport moniker.
The exterior gets an upgrade as well, with a more aggressive body kit; featuring a new front fascia with a black grille and unique lighting, sill extensions down the sides, and dual chrome exhaust tips for the diffuser-style rear fascia.
Inside, there are sport seats with more bolstering and red stitching, as well as a new flat-bottom steering wheel. The logical layout is familiar Hyundai, and there even seems to be some shared switchgear with Kia.
But that’s not all that’s new on the Elantra home front however, as 2018 brings a new Elantra GT hatchback.
As before, this Elantra is based on the European Hyundai i30. So it’s actually quite different than the sedan; especially inside where you’ll find a whole new dash and control layout, one that we’re quite fond of.
"This Hyundai Elantra GT represents the brand’s latest thinking about small cars, and is clearly aimed at those that might want a small utility vehicle instead. You sit rather high and the boxy hatchback rear end means plenty of cargo versatility. I like the fact the tablet-style media interface uses not only a touchscreen but there’s plenty of knobs and switches to control it. So, it’s not only modern it’s smart."
That SUV-style cargo volume measures 24.9 cubic-ft. seats up, 55.1 with rear seat backs folded. The downside, rear seat leg room that isn’t as generous as the sedan.
Power for the Elantra GT comes from a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 161-horsepwer and 150 lb-ft. of torque, though a GT Sport model, with the 1.6-turbo is available as well.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.0-liter Elantra GT automatic are 24-City, 32-Highway, and 27-Combined. For the Elantra Sport manual, they’re 22-City, 30-Highway, and 25-Combined.
Still, that’s only an average Energy Impact Score with use of 13.2-barrels of oil annually with CO2 emissions of 5.9-tons.
Elantra Sport pricing starts very sensibly, at $22,485; $4,500 over the much less entertaining base SE model. Elantra GTs begin at $20,235.
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport may fall short of performance-only machines like the Focus ST or Impreza WRX, but it’s certainly a bigger step in that direction than they’ve previously made. So, it offers a quite rewarding driving experience without compromising daily family car livability. As for the 2018 Elantra GT; it offers a sporty alternative to small front-drive crossovers; making a great case for the compact hatchback.
So, as we see it, the latest Elantra, in all its forms, is indeed more competitive, and now more entertaining, than it’s ever been.
Engine: 1.6 liter
Torque: 195 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds @ 92 mph
EPA: 22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.9 tons/yr