It was time for an upgrade and that is exactly what Hyundai has given us. A brand new Elantra arrived at our office recently and apart from the new looks which I will elaborate on later, this car had the word ‘Sport’ on the boot? Hyundai and sport? This should be interesting.
Hyundai has tried the whole sport thing with the Veloster, which if we are honest missed the mark by quite a margin. So what about this Elantra with the word Sport on its bum? Is it any good in terms of being sporty?
Its only once you go to the front of the car that you are given a bit of hope regarding something sporty, thanks to the red Turbo badge on the grille. It gets a more aggressive front end as well as automatic projection headlamps with daytime running LEDs, dual exhausts and LED taillights.
It also gets a nice set of sporty alloy wheels to match its credentials. Overall, the Elantra Sport looks really good, especially when viewed from the side as the profile has a strong coupe influence.
Where I was really impressed though was the interior. My test unit featured dark red leather seats, which looked great when contrasted against the black dashboard and quality plastics. The new steering wheel comes across as being smaller than before, but does feature a flat-bottom which is all the rage in the car world right now.
I also found the infotainment screen and operating system easy to use, even while on the move, while the addition of a USB port and Bluetooth makes connectivity easy. As for space, despite its coupe-like proportions, the cabin is quite spacious with enough rear head and leg room, and a large boot.
The important bit though is whether the engine can match that Sport badge. Under the bonnet lies a 1.6-litre turbocharged motor which is good for 150kW/265Nm. To better improve the package, the Sport is fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that can be operated via the gear lever or the steering wheel mounted shift paddles.
As editor Sean Nurse mentioned in his launch review, the engine and gearbox combination has brought the Elantra more up to date with current automotive trends. I tend to agree. The car feels great to drive, the gearbox changes without notice and the addition of Eco, Normal and Sport modes help in terms of driveability. I did however find myself making use of Eco mode most of the time, which returned a figure of 7.8-litres/100 km.
All in all, the Elantra really impressed me in terms of its style, features and performance. My only issue would be the brakes which felt numb at times. There is one other issue though and it’s a big one. You see, as great as the Elantra is, it sits in a segment that is slowly fading away. The reason being that for roughly the same price, you could have a crossover SUV that the majority of buyers are likely to purchase.
In fact, the Elantra Sport I drove comes with a R399 900 price tag, while the equally new Hyundai Tucson Sport comes in at R499 900. I know which I would go for.