The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
is an affordable sports sedan that is a surprisingly good step up from the standard, worthy Elantra sedan.
For starters, the Elantra Sport has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 horsepower, compared with 147 for the standard Elantra. Performance thus jumps from moderate to quick, with a 0-60 m.p.h. time of nearly 7 seconds. Passing from 65-75 m.ph. and entrances into fast highway traffic are a breeze.
You can even get a six-speed manual transmission, although my test Elantra Sport came with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic with paddle shifters. Go for the efficient automatic if you must regularly contend with congested traffic. The manual transmission isn't one of the best, but at least is offered.
A sport-tuned suspension, larger front brakes and an independent multi-link rear suspension that replaces the regular Elantra's torsion-beam rear axle back up the more-potent engine. So do electronic stability and traction controls.
Steering is quick and precise, although more road feel would be appreciated, and the ride is generally supple. The anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution are controlled by a pedal some may feel is overly firm, although it has a progressive action. A driver can select "normal" or "sport" driving modes via a console button. Sport mode tightens things up a bit for more aggressive driving, but doesn't make things uncomfortable.
The Elantra Sport with the manual lists at $21,650 and at $22,750 with the automatic. So right off the bat you're paying thousands less you would for rival, better-known sports sedans.
The standard Elantra is handsome, but the Sport version has a sport front grille and bumper fascia, side sill extensions, sport rear fascia with chrome twin-tip exhaust outlets and diffuser. Low-profile 40-series tires ride on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Wide-opening doors allow easy access to the interior, which has supportive leather-covered front seats, a flat-bottom leather-wrapped wheel, carbon fiber-look trim, attractive red stitching, alloy sport pedals and sport gauges.
To further entice prospective buyers, Hyundai has given the Elantra Sport high-quality interior materials and a good amount of equipment. It includes a push-button start, rearview camera with guidelines, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, easily used 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, audio system with 6 speakers, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a hands-free "smart" trunk.
Safety equipment includes a driver's knee air bag, HID headlights and LED daytime running lights and taillights. Side mirrors have turn-signal indicators.
My test car was equipped with a generally desirable $2,400 Premium package. It contains a power sunroof, dual automatic climate control, 8-inch touchscreen, navigation system, Infiniti premium audio system with 8 speakers, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.
The backlit gauges can be quickly read, and there's both a regular and digital speedometer. The clearly marked mixture of small and large dashboard controls are easy to use. Console cupholders are within convenient reach, and there are a good number of cabin storage areas, including storage pockets in all doors and a covered console bin. Additional sound-deadening material makes for quiet cruising.
The roomy cargo area has a low, wide opening and rear seat backs, which have trunk-release controls, fold forward to enlarge the storage area.
The Elantra Sport has Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which a Hyundai executive once told me "saved the company." Now, cars such as the Elantra Sport are adding to the automaker's reputation.