Just in time for fall, Hyundai is (pumpkin) spicing things up with its compact sedan.
The new Elantra Sport is finally here and is easily going to be the most fun compact car the brand has ever offered in North America (yes, even counting the Veloster).
With 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque blasting out of its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, we couldn’t wait to drive the new Elantra Sport around an autocross circuit. After a few laps, it became clear that there are some important things to share with you before we take it out for a thorough shakedown early next month.
The Exhaust Actually Sounds Good
Compact cars, even sporty ones with turbocharged engines, aren’t typically known for awesome noises. They typically have buzzy, annoying soundtracks, but that isn’t the case with the new Elantra Sport, which sounds rowdy and tough. Think of a rally car, and you’ll have a great idea of what this car sounds like. The noise reverberates off nearby buildings and echoes into the distance. It’s unlike anything Hyundai has ever put on a factory car before. In fact, the designers looked at how loud a car can legally be and made the Elantra Sport that loud.
The Elantra Sport sound this good thanks to a special North American-spec airbox that Hyundai says allows for more sound with less baffling. This is due to the use of a porous material on the intake tube that lets the sound spread better.
Two Sporty Transmissions
A sporty car needs to have a sporty gearbox, and two transmissions are available in the Elantra Sport. The most obvious choice is the six-speed manual transmission, which feels great and is similar to what we experienced in the Veloster Rallye. The other offering is the seven-speed dual clutch automatic, which is fast to swap gears once the car is in motion, but kind of sluggish off the line. Keep in mind that the models we tested were prototypes, and the final products could be more refined when they arrive.
I was overjoyed to hear that the new Elantra Sport will come from the factory with more aggressive rubber around its 18-inch wheels. The Hankook Ventus S1 Noble tires are described as ultra high-performance all-season tires, meaning they will provide excellent grip and responsiveness, which is exactly what a compact car like this needs.
Around the autocross course, the tires were predictable and responsive while handling the abuse doled out by speed-hungry automotive journalists.
Better Brakes and Handling
Hyundai made several important modifications to the normal Elantra in order to make the Sport model more fun to drive. The biggest change is the use of a multilink rear suspension rather than the torsion beam axle found in the standard Elantra. There’s also a thicker front stabilizer bar (24 mm vs 22 mm), higher spring rates in the front and rear shocks, and stiffer dampers. The Elantra Sport also has a quicker steering rack and features a different steering tune compared to the regular Elantra. Finally, braking gets an improvement thanks to larger diameter front rotors, which are now 12 inches compared to 11.
The changes aren’t all performance oriented, however, as Hyundai has updated the interior of the car as well. You’ll notice subtle but attractive red accents inside the car, including stitching on the steering wheel, seats and shift boot. The steering wheel is also flat-bottomed for that extra sporty touch and features a cool red stripe on the bottom center.
The gauges are upgraded, too, with a sporty look that places the zeros directly at the 6 o’clock mark.
There’s much more to discuss when it comes to the Elantra Sport, and we can’t wait to see how it fares after a full week of testing. While there’s no new Honda Civic Si out there, this Hyundai may be able to fill the gap for those looking for a sporty compact sedan.
Discuss this story at our Hyundai Elantra Sport Forum