ELECTRIFYING GOODNESS: 2019 HYUNDAI ELANTRA SPORT
Covering its sixth generation, the Hyundai Elantra has seen its fair share of rough years – then again who hasn’t. With a rocky start in the late nineties, we’ve watched its grow and mature over the last twenty years or so years with the latest sixth-gen being the most handsome and sophisticated of the bunch. Going for its mid-cycle update for 2019 however, Hyundai has generated a ton of chatter around its new style – for better or worse, it has people talking.
Bringing back some of the dramatic styling that had us falling in love with Hyundai at the turn of the decade, this new style is a unflinching avowal of what we can expect for future prospects. Having gotten used to the corporate development of Hyundai’s German-like subtleties, this new fashion statement is by far much more unique. Carried over, all six-trims continue to march forward including the Eco and Sport models. With unchanged mechanical components to all trims, we see the same 2.0-liter, 147-horsepower engine in all models – the Eco continues with its 1.4-liter turbocharged ways while the Sport sees the greater side of 200-horsepower from a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.
Sizzling up the slice of life, our test subject being the sportiest of the bunch is nestled right under the top-trimmed Limited starting at $22,600. With the latest styling, the Elantra Sport doesn’t showcase that much significant tailoring from the rest of the line-up with a black mesh grille, 18-inch wheels wrapped in performance all-season tires, black rear trunk lid spoiler and a funky exhaust tip. The Sport does get an enhanced premium physique with upgraded distinctively styled LED headlights, daytime running lights, and LED rear taillights.
With a standard six-speed manual, plenty of spirited driving can be found in the Sport; however, one will have to act quick – as of 2020, Hyundai will be discontinuing the third pedal, leaving us with the $1100 seven-speed dual clutch automatic, only. The Sport’s 1.6-liter turbocharged engine developing 54 more horses than the standard model, as such, swiftly propels forward seeing it gets to 60-mph in just less than six and half seconds. The Sport also sees an upgraded rear multi-link suspension and larger 12-inch front brakes that enhances it driving dynamics to a more amusing vibe as the daily groove can feel so ordinary.
The thing is though, the Elantra Sport is really in a class of its own when we look at others competitors like it. Despite its name, it’s not trying excessively hard to be a sports sedan – the suspension rides a little stiffer with more confidence but doesn’t extrude the finesses of something like the Jetta GLI. The chassis feels rigid with comfortably balanced steering but isn’t quite as reserved as the Mazda 3. The automatic transmission is also smooth in its movements with snappy gear changes that even rev matches upon downshifting through the steering wheel paddle shifts.
In light of the manual transmission (which this writer own’s by the way) can provide more theatre and control as the Sport loves to rev. Torque comes in at the low end of the revolutions and holds out till about 5000-rpms where the turbo starts to gasp for more air. The downside to the manual is that the shifter is too long and the gearing is a bit too close together making it easy to jump from second gear into fifth whereas the Honda Civic Si feels much more engaging and responsive. Many of its quirks can be resolved by simply changing the drive mode into sport which tightens up the steering wheel and enhances the throttle responsiveness and gear mapping – the manual on the other hand doesn’t see a drive mode function.
For a compact economy sedan, Hyundai added a tad bit of premium-esk qualities into the Elantra as the Sport sees a comfortable leather interior with heated from seats and faux-suede “sport” lettering inserts. Minor detail work brings in a classier style as the air vents feature a metal trim, the center stack buttons have been reorganized and the dual-zone climate control has been dressed up. With its size conforming to the compact segment, space speaks volume as rear seat comfort is exceptional as well as a healthy balance of leg and headroom for any sized passenger.
Despite the questionable legality of the Elantra’s styling, there is quite a bit of positive delightfulness found behind the steering wheel with energetic performance, a tastefully executed interior and the ability to see nearly 38 mpg’s on the highway. Who knew commuting could be so electrifying.
Model: 2019 HYUNDAI ELANTRA
Starting Price: $17,450
As Tested: $27,005 – ELANTRA SPORT WITH PREMIUM PACKAGE
Engine: 1.6-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 201-HORSEPOWER / 195 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 7-SPEED DUAL-CLUTCH AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 26-CITY / 33-HWY / 29-COMBINED
(AS TESTED: 25.5 MPG COMBINED | 37.6 MPG – 200 MILE HIGHWAY)
Fuel Range: 330 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS