Auto Review: The Elantra’s wilder side

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Feb. 28, 2013
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

One of the pleasant automotive surprises over the last few years has been the return of the two-door coupe, or rather, the coupe version of popular four-door sedans. There’s something about the revised body style a sleek coupe delivers that transforms a family sedan into something much more aggressive, even if it may be nearly mechanically identical to the sedan its based on. Cars in this category have included the Altima and Camry Solara coupes, as well as the Honda Accord Coupe we reviewed a few weeks ago. While the Solara has left us for the moment, the others have proved popular, and Hyundai’s Elantra Coupe fits in quite nicely with this group of very enjoyable automobiles. Additionally, in the case of the Elantra Coupe, the practicality of the sedan version is still largely present in the two-door, while still delivering a more stylish, and sporting, personality.

Like the sedan, the front-drive Elantra Coupe uses Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design concept to build a very eye-catching exterior. The same 1.8-liter “Nu” Inline Four from the sedan powers the Coupe, and features Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing and a Variable Induction System to help generate 148 horsepower. You get to choose from two six-speed transmissions: a manual or a Shiftronic Automatic. The Automatic on our SE tester proved to be the most refined component of the drivetrain, as the engine could be a bit vocal at times while the gearbox went about its business with smooth, quiet efficiency. Acceleration is adequate, if not rocket-like, and overall the drivetrain is a reasonable mix of response and fuel efficiency. Handling is rewarding in all but the most extreme situations, and suspension response isn’t overly stiff or soft, but instead a reasonable compromise between the two, with only the harshest pavement irregularities upsetting the chassis.

Braking performance was one of the best things on this Coupe’s résumé, as stops were short, with excellent control. Steering feedback was a tad on the light side, but overall this was a very fun car to drive.

Being a two-door, access to the rear seat requires more gymnastics than the four-door, but the pleasant surprise is once back there, the room is generous. Hyundai continues to design and implement very well-thought-out interiors, with the driver getting logical, straightforward instrumentation and controls. There’s an intriguing central knob/button to operate the audio system that sits below with the touch screen navigation system, and all in all it’s fairly easy to become accustomed to. The front buckets have larger side bolsters compared to the sedan, as is fitting for the Coupe’s sportier nature. On the practical side, the trunk is a very useful 14.8 cubic feet in volume, which is more capacious than a lot of larger sedans these days.

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE is EPA rated 27 city/37 highway and we saw 25 MPG in a week of rather spirited driving. The base price was $20,745, and with options including a Technology Package, the MSRP came to $23,968. www.hyundaiusa.com


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