The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport: A family friendly performance car
Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport might be a practical family oriented vehicle, but if you're looking for a fun ride, this may not be the one for you.
That usually is the case, so let's find out if added horsepower makes the Elantra more desirable, too.
Before I get to how it drives, your first impression of the car is when you walk up to it.
The Elantra Sport looks very much like any other Elantra model — no crazy wings or graphics here — but there are differences.
Up front, the bumper is slightly redesigned. Look at its profile, and you'll find that it wears different wheels — 18 inch all around, with 225/40R18 tires.
Out the back, it sports dual exhausts, but that is about it. So perhaps, the Elantra Sport is a bit of a sleeper, a car that doesn't look fast, but it is.
Step inside, and again the look and feel is very familiar — it is just like any other Elantra, albeit with slightly better “Sport” seats. It might all be very well made, but it is hardly what you'd call, well equipped.
Those front seats, are manually adjusted — no power seat available, not even as an option. Even the HVAC controls on my tester were of the manual variety, although, automatic climate control is at least available as an option. While the Elantra offers a decently spacious and comfortable cabin, it looks and feels dull, certainly not an inspiring place to spend time in — perhaps it's an indication of what lies ahead.
What did lay ahead, was the drive. Hit the “engine start” button, and its 1.6 litres, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine, comes alive with no vocal drama. I was expecting it to growl, but it hardly makes a whisper. Maybe, this is one of those quiet performance cars (Q-cars), because this should be a fast sedan, since its little engine does make 201 horsepower and 195 pounds per foot of torque. That power is sent to just the front wheels, via either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission — my tester had the former.
So, is it as fast as I was hoping for it to be? The simple answer is, no, not at all. First of all, the engine — which was first offered in the Veloster Turbo coupe — doesn't feel very willing or smooth when pushed. Secondly, there is turbo-lag, lots and lots of turbo-lag, the kind that reminds you of the 1980s. As for numbers, it'll sprint from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in about 6.7 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 210 kilometres per hour — fast, sure, but its rivals will leave it far behind.
Then, it's the gear ratios, just when the motor finally gets its boost working, you run out of gear, have to change up, boost and revs fall far more than what is ideal, then you have to work hard at building its speed up, only to then again max out the gear and change up, and the saga continues again — this car is hard work to drive fast.
Show it some twisty roads, and it copes better than I was expecting. Hyundai uses high-strength steel in the construction of its cars, and it shows, the shell is very rigid, and as a result, it gives the car a great platform for handling. The suspension set up is fairly good, and you can carry a lot of speed through the corners — if only its engine was fun to rev up, it would be even more fun to toss around on country roads.
Hyundai has made some decent performance cars in the past, and while the Elantra Sport offers up a good platform, for me, it has been let down by its drivetrain.
However, if a turbocharged Elantra is what you're looking for, than the 2017 Elantra Sport might be just the thing for you — prices start at $24,999. While that is not as affordable as I would have liked for it to be, it is at least cheap to run, as I averaged 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres during my test week, a figure that is actually much better than what the manufacturer advertises.
So, there you have it, if you're looking for a practical, family sedan, with some added go power, and you do a lot of driving, than the Elantra Sport might just be the car for you - just not for me.