Road test: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE | Driving

6 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Road test: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE | Driving
Hyundai Elantra

Road test: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE

The Hyundai Elantra Coupe looks sporty and begs for a more powerful engine option to match its looks.

The Elantra Coupe has a 148-hp, DOHC 1.8L four-cylinder under its hood.

The Elantra Coupe is a pleasure to drive, but one can’t help but feel it “needs” a little more muscle.

While it’s no Civic Si-killer, the Elantra Coupe SE still has a lot to offer

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The Honda Civic was the best-selling car in Canada last year while the Hyundai Elantra was the second best (a race that is just as close this year). The Civic comes in sedan and coupe versions; the Elantra now comes in sedan, coupe and hatchback models. A 140-horsepower, 1.8-litre SOHC four-cylinder powers the milder versions of the Civic Coupe, while the topline Si gets a far more exciting 201-horsepower, 2.4L four-cylinder.

Meanwhile, the Elantra Coupe has a 148-hp, DOHC 1.8L four-cylinder under its hood, and that#8217;s about as much power as you#8217;re going to get.

It is this lack of a second, higher-performance powerplant that is the new Elantra Coupe’s biggest weakness – at least when it comes to tweaking the Civic’s nose, which Hyundai most definitely would like to do.

It’s not that the new two-door is vastly underpowered. Far from it — there is sufficient oomph when tromping on the gas pedal to handle most traffic situations. And it is super-quiet except under wide-open throttle.

In fact, on three separate occasions, I had passengers ask if the four-cylinder was running while stopped for a red light. That’s noteworthy. Still, the car looks so sleek and fast and is otherwise a pleasure to drive that one can’t help but feel it “needs” a little more muscle to complete the sporting image a coupe naturally evokes.

That the equally new Elantra GT hatchback is actually more performance-oriented than the Coupe further complicates the message.

As for fuel consumption, the back-half of the performance equation, the car’s highway economy has been rated at 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres with the six-speed manual transmission and 5.0 L/100 km with the six-speed manumatic — figures that should astound even the hybrid crowd. Naturally, reality gets in the way of the government’s fairy-tale ratings, but I still averaged 9.6 L/100 km during a week of mainly in-town driving.

Putting aside the thought that Hyundai has no challenger to the Si (at least for now) with its Elantra Coupe, the car is more than enough competition for the lesser Civic Coupe range (LX, EX and EX-L Navi). Simply put, it has a fresher, more aggressive style (Hyundai’s wedge-like “fluidic sculpture”) than the amorphous Honda and is designed and equipped in such a way to suggest it should cost more than its $19,949 (base GS) to $25,199 (topline SE) price tags.

The key attribute of the new Coupe is that, although based on the budget-friendly, fuel-efficient sedan, it has a decidedly sporty demeanour that shines through despite an engine that won’t have the motor heads twitching in anticipation. Put it down to a well-engineered ride and handling setup using common components as well as a trim 1,300-kilogram weight thanks to extensive use of high-strength steel.

The Coupe is fitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and twin-tube shock absorbers. A 22-millimetre-diameter front stabilizer bar helps lessen body roll when cornering.

The rear suspension is a little more unique, using a lightweight V-beam torsion axle with an integrated 22-mm stabilizer bar for improved cornering. Monotube shock absorbers keep the ride from being overly choppy. Plus, Hyundai says the steering knuckle design, torsion beam rigidity and damper tuning have all been recalibrated to imbue the Coupe with sportier handling and steering responsiveness relative to its sedan counterpart.

The SE tester also comes with a tighter suspension calibration to go with the lower-profile P215/45R17 tires.

All Coupes have what Hyundai calls Motor-Driven Power Steering (a fancy name for electric assist) that quickly adjusts to changing driver output while supposedly improving fuel economy (versus a conventional hydraulic steering system). While some similar systems have a decidedly wooden feel to them, the Coupe’s quick-ratio steering rack is well-weighted and responsive when cornering.

Inside, the Coupe’s modern, high-tech cabin nicely dovetails the car’s aggressively swept-back sheetmetal. There are easily readable gauges in the instrument pod behind the tilt and telescopic steering column. The standard heated seats, with deeper side bolsters than those found in the sedan, offer increased lateral support when sporting about.

And, being the premium model, the SE adds such items as aluminum pedals, push-button start, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a 360-watt audio system with external amplifier and a high-resolution, voice-activated navigation system with a seven-inch touchscreen and rear-view camera.

Hyundai Elantra

Getting into the back seat doesn’t require the flexibility of a contortionist and, once inside, my 5-foot-7 daughter (a former gymnast who can put her body in positions that still make me wince) found good headroom and reasonable legroom — as long as the front seat wasn’t pushed all the way back in its tracks. Hyundai, again taking a shot at the Civic, says the Elantra Coupe’s total interior volume of 110.2 cubic feet (3,121 litres) offers greater passenger space than the 2012 Civic, and its total interior volume is only about 0.2 cu. ft. less than the sedan’s. Trunk space (14.8 cu. ft) is identical to the sedan.

I’m guessing Hyundai would like motor heads to gravitate to the Veloster Turbo to get their speed-induced jollies — or, if they’re particularly flush, upgrade to the enhanced Genesis Coupe. The fact there is no Si-beater to be had from the Elantra Coupe is a marketing flaw, but not a fatal one. The thing is, the car’s other attributes more than compensate.

A sculpted design, decent driving dynamics and plenty of features make the Coupe a big fish in a small pond.

Type of vehicle  Front-wheel-drive compact coupe

Engine  1.8L DOHC four-cylinder

Power  148 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 131 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,700 rpm

Transmission  Six-speed manumatic

Brakes  Four-wheel disc with ABS

Tires  P215/45R15

Price (as tested)  $25,199

Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra
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