What is it?
Hyundai’s underrated Elantra is outsold by its sibling the i30 hatch at the rate of something like 10 to 1.
For our money it’s a better look and the Sport and Sport Premium with all the fruit replace the previous SR version.
Sport takes the car to a whole new level with cosmetic changes, a 1.6-ltre turbocharged engine replacing the standard 2.0-litre unit, along with the addition of a 7-speed twin clutch style auto.
What’s it cost?
Prices start from $21,490 for the 2.0-litre Go, rising to $25,990 for 2.0-litre Active, $28,990 for the 1.6-litre turbo Sport and $31,490 for the 1.6-litre turbo Sport Premium. Metallic paint is an additional $495.
Elantra was the subject of a major overhaul towards the end of last year.
A new front incorporates redesigned headlights and the signature cascading grille.
Rear styling is refreshed with redesigned tail lights, and a sporty integrated boot-lid spoiler and lower diffuser.
A reworked dash headlines an updated interior, with a Supervision cluster, a new steering wheel design, and new trims and finishes.
Standard equipment includes red leather trim, sports front seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy-look pedals, dual zone climate airconditiong, LED rear and headlights, rear view camera, cruise control, rear parking sensors, hands-free boot and 18 inch alloys with 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.
Infotainment is taken care of by an 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system paired with an eight-speaker Infinity premium audio – incorporating DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
As well as six airbags and a five star crash rating, the SmartSense safety suite includes: Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban (camera), High Beam Assist (HBA), Lane Keeping Assist – Line (LKA-L), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW).
What’s it go like?
Our test vehicle was the $28,990 Sport with the twin-clutch auto finished in no-extra-cost polar white.
It looks terrific, with predatorial lights and the white paint job provides plenty of constrast with the black bits.
The wheels are real keepers with their rectangular, three-dimensional spokes as is the lairy, but rather sporty red leather interior and supportive high bolster front seats.
Rear legroom is good, with air vents for back seat passengers and a good-sized boot.
With 150kW and 265Nm on tap, the latter between 1500 and 4500 revs, it’s a snappy performer too.
It’s the same tubocharged 1.6-litre four cylinder engine that can be found in other models, including the three-door Veloster.
The good news is that it takes standard 91 unleaded and doesn’t use much of it.
In fact, rated at 7.0L/100km, that’s exactly what we were getting after just over 500km of mixed driving, including a brief blat over back roads to explore its limits.
The bad news is that tubocharged models require a relatively short 10,000km service interval, which means you’ll be taking it in at least twice a year.
To go with the extra go, there’s choice of a 6-speed manual or 7-speed twin clutch auto, the latter with steering wheel-mounted gear change paddles, along with a sports body kit, sports suspension, more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and beefed up front stoppers.
Twin clutch autos in our experience are very good at progressing rapidly through the gears, either accerating or decelerating — but tend to become jerky and a little confused in traffic where they are required to constantly speed up and slow down.
Fortunately, our test vehicle exhibited none of these traits.
The dash is nothing fancy, with two, easy to read analogue dials that flank a centre info screen where speed can be displayed digitally.
Performance is sharp away from the line and will surprise the drivers of many more fancied, high-priced Euros, with a choice of Sport, Normal and Eco drive modes.
The Sport accelerates hard and turns into corners nicely, with plenty of mid-corner grip from the Michelin rubber.
BUT when really hustling on back roads the suspension becomes floaty and uncertain, and it doesn’t feel as screwed down as its cousin the Cerato GT.
For most people that won’t matter however.
At the same time time it’s a very communicative chassis that leaves you in no doubt as to what is happening underneath.
Lane Keep Assist is overly intrusive and warns you to put your hands back on the wheel at the slightest provocation — but you can turn it off at your peril.
Finally, we keep getting complaints about the new satnav system in this and other Hyundais.
They revolve mainly around how non-intuitive it is and how it doesn’t automatically populate a search with potential targets when looking for an addresse — the previous system did.
Try finding Sydney airport when you’re in a hurry?
What we like?
- Love the wheels
- Good rear legroom
- Rear air vents
- Good-sized boot
- Plenty of spark from turbo engine
What we don’t like?
- Not much
- Can’t open boot from the back
- Misses out on smart cruise control
- Bit floaty at speed on back roads
The bottom line?
Elantra Sport is a good all rounder and offers great bang for your buck, as practical as it is sporty with its red leather seats and tubocharged performance.
There’s just one question you need to answer and that is whether the Sport Premium is worth the extra $2500 ask?
No, not really, not for a sunroof, front park sensors, heated front seats, auto dimming rear view mirror, power adjust driver’s seat and wireless phone charging.
It’s also worth having a look at the Kia Cerato GT, which offers the same powertrain but feels more buttoned down when you start to push it hard.
CHECKOUT: No auto stop from get-Go for Elantra
CHECKOUT: Price hike for Kia’s red hot Cerato GT
Hyundai Elantra Sport, priced from $28,990
Looks - 8/10
Performance - 8/10
Safety - 7.5/10
Thirst - 8/10
Practicality - 8/10
Comfort - 7.5/10
Tech - 7.5/10
Value - 8/10