Only one obstacle in its sales progress, the Civic 1.5 Turbo!
Review and Pictures by Daniel Fernandez
This all new Hyundai Elantra Sport shares almost nothing with the previous best selling Elantra. It carries a brand new design and is no just an appearance package. There is a new powerplant under the hood. A turbocharged 1.6L. Yes, you can still buy this Elantra with a 2.0L normal aspirated engine, but here we are test driving the Turbo version.
Its immediate rival comes from Japan and it is the current sales king, the all new Honda Civic. Honda sells the Civic with a 1.5L turbo or a 1.8L normal aspirated engine. For this review, we will look at the RM135,800.00 Civic 1.5L turbo as its immediate rival. The Civic 1.5L turbo delivers 173bhp and and impressive 220bhp.
Let us not forget the Ford Focus with its 1.5L EcoBoost engine that produces 180bhp and 240Nm of torque. Priced from RM118,000.00, the Focus represents great value for your Ringgit as it delivers decent power and cabin equipment at this price point. The only issue is the fact that this Focus is a little older than the Civic and Elantra.
This RM131,488.00 Elantra 1.6L turbo is powered by Hyundai’s proven Gamma 1.6L Turbo-GDI inline four-cylinder engine, which produces 201bhp at 6,000rpm and 265Nm of torque at 1,500-4,500rpm which is an increase of 54hp over the standard naturally aspirated 2.0L Elantra. This engine is paired with a 7-speed DCT with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The Elantra Turbo gets exclusive front and rear fascias that give this version a crucial visual differentiation from the Elantra 2.0L, with subtle but immediately recognizable “tells” that hint at the car’s improved power and dynamics. Note the Sport’s black hexagonal grille with subtle “Turbo” badge; aggressive side sill extensions; horizontal LED Daytime Running Lights; a unique inner housing for the standard HID headlamps; a Sport-specific light signature for the standard LED taillights; and chrome dual exhaust outlets nestled in a rear-bumper diffuser insert.
DYNAMICS that count
Extensive use of high-strength steel (53% for 2017 versus 21% in the previous generation) and 394 feet of structural adhesive are employed in 2017 Elantra Sport’s construction. These enhancements, combined with a new, Sport-exclusive rear multi-link independent suspension, help deliver unprecedented dynamics for the Elantra. The list of technical changes further includes larger front and rear stabilizer bars, higher spring and damper rates, upsized 12″ front brake rotors, retuned steering and retuned final drive ratios.
LOOKS to match performance
Inside, Hyundai Elantra Sport builds on the Hyundai Elantra’s award-winning user experience, recently named one of Wards 10 Best (this is an American automotive publication). Well padded leather sport seats with more aggressive bolstering are standard along with eye-catching red contrast stitching, a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shifter, and a black headliner. Hyundai’s intuitive 7″ Display Audio system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is part of the extensive standard-equipment list, which also includes a proximity key with push-button start. Alloy pedals and a Sport exclusive instrument gauge cluster provide the necessary styling.
Yes, the test drive tells it all when you are looking at a turbocharged vehicle and this is where this Elantra delivers. There are two drive modes that you can pick with just a simple button located at the right of the gear-shifter. In ECO mode, this Elantra delivers almost similar drive excitement as its 2.0L normal aspirated sibling. There is enough grunt for city commuting and fuel sipping is at its best. Now, when you click it to SPORT mode, the 201bhp is delivered from 2nd gear. 1st gear acceleration is good, but it’s the 2nd and 3rd gear acceleration that impresses. The mid-range torque can be felt with its 265Nm and this Elantra handles the power well. It does not have hard edged handling and you do not want this as this will return a city ride that will be too stiff….almost like what BMW’s return.
Best is to get a nice balance and compromise in handling and this Elantra does that with just the right amount of power to keep up with necessary bigger players on the road.
WHAT ABOUT THE VALUE?
This is the tough call. The Civic comes with Honda branding and resale value. The Ford is having its own issues against the Civic’s popularity. Now this Elantra has a tough segment to play in. Priced so close to the Civic, buyers will undoubtedly be drawn to Honda showrooms, unless Hyundai can sweeten this Elantra deal. Yes, there will be some buyers who are not taken by the Civic’s look and ‘Tron’ like dashboard and instrument cluster. Hyundai has given this Elantra a very straightforward instrument cluster and our personal favorite……a proper handbrake lever (not an electronic handbrake button like in the Civic). Final decision is yours and best you test drive all three cars on the same morning and decide over lunch which to buy.
Hyundai Elantra 1.6 Turbo Sport Specifications
Engine: Inline 4 turbo
Gearbox: 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission
Max power: 201hp @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 265Nm@1500rpm