SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When I drove the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra earlier this year, I liked it. Correction: I really liked it. It has all the high-end features you could possibly want, it looks nice, and it’s easy to drive.
Now, Elantra gets even better. It offers a Sport model.
We’re not talking about a pretender that just has fancy badging and swanky sport seats. Nope, this Elantra Sport is the real deal, complete with a 6-speed manual transmission, multi-link rear suspension and a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.
“This is not just an appearance package,” said Michael Evanoff, manager for product planning at Hyundai, before he enumerated the styling and performance enhancements this model gets.
Some of the change highlights include:
Oh, and 54 more horsepower and 63 more pound-feet of torque. That brings the power tallies to 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
To prove its chops, Hyundai invited a group of Midwest journalists out to the Tire Rack proving grounds, complete with a paved autocross course. Then they said: Go!
My laps weren’t racer-boy fast, but I pushed it enough to get some tire squealage and have some fun through the slalom.
The result: I can unequivocally say that in addition to looking great, this new Elantra Sport is now fun.
We played with the manual transmission models on the autocross and had the opportunity to drive the automatic on a winding street loop. While I wish I could have tried the automatic on the autocross and the manual on the street, I had enough time in both models in their specific milieu to have an overall favorable reaction.
The extra horsepower creates just enough zip for aggressive passing maneuvers, and the manual transmission is smooth enough that it could easily be an everyday driver.
While the suspension is certainly stiffer, it doesn’t sacrifice anything in the comfort department. The Elantra Sport is still relatively calm over rough pavement, and the interior quietness is something you’d expect more from a luxury vehicle than a Hyundai.
This model will be situated above the Eco model and below the Limited in terms of packaging and pricing, and standard features on the Sport include LED daytime running lights, door handle approach lights, heated front seats, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, hands-free smart trunk and (thank you) dual charging USB ports.
There will only be one package available on this model. The Premium Package will include an 8-inch infotainment screen with navigation, Infinity premium audio, Clari-fi music restoration technology, sunroof, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist and the marriage-saving dual automatic temperature controls.
Pricing for the Elantra Sport will start at $21,650 for the model with the 6-speed manual transmission. Add $1,100 for the model with the 7-speed dual-clutch and $2,400 for the Premium Package.
A half day behind the wheel of the Elantra Sport isn’t really enough time to write a proper review, but it was definitely enough to whet my appetite. I’ll look forward to the day it hits the media fleet and I have a few days behind the wheel.
Elantra Sport will be available in dealers by the end of the year.
Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Hyundai covered our accommodations and meals costs.
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