2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

TORREY PINES, Calif. — Have you ever fancied yourself as an auto executive because you feel you can make decisions as well as they can? Here’s your first question as the new MBEO (Make Believe Executive Officer) of Hyundai Motor America: What would be the natural progression for your Elantra sedan that was the winner of the North American Car of the Year? The answer is simple; remove the two rear doors, sport it up and make it a coupe.

That’s just what Hyundai has done with the release of its all-new 2013 Elantra Coupe. It has designed the car to appeal to youthful, sporty buyers who don’t really need the versatility of four doors, but want a sport vehicle in this segment.

There’s already a pair of excellent vehicles in this competitive class — namely the Honda Civic Coupe and the Kia Forte Koup. Having spent a few hundred miles with the Elantra Coupe in the twisty, mountainous roads of Southern California, it’s evident that Hyundai is poised to take another victory lap against its competition.

Hyundai has referred to its familial styling as “Fluidic Sculpture,” which seems like an apt description. It may sound like a cliché to talk about a vehicle that looks like it’s moving while standing still, but Elantra epitomizes just such a vehicle. With its signature hexagonal front fascia opening, sweeping shape, high belt line and jeweled swept-back headlights it resembles a big Jelly Belly — albeit a beautiful Jelly Belly.

Choices don’t get much simpler than those offered by the Elantra Coupe; there’s a GS and an SE trim level, and each can be purchased with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. Both are bolted to a 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline 4-cylinder engine with D-CVVT. It puts out 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque.

If you’re hell bent on shifting gears then the manual will suit you to a tee. However, I found the automatic to be a little quicker on the draw and of the two, would be my first choice — especially if the vehicle is primarily operated in an urban environment.

Transmission choice aside the Elantra Coupe is still going to achieve an estimated 40 mpg highway. The manual gets 29 mpg city and a combined 33 mpg; the automatic gets an estimated 28 mpg city and 32 mpg combined. With its 12.8-gallon fuel tank you’ll go far, despite what your scholastic guidance counselor may have told you.

The interior of the 2013 Elantra Coupe is relatively roomy — if you’re in the front seat. If you’re going on a long trip and think you’re going to be comfortable in the rear seat then you’d better be a Welsh Corgi puppy because you’d have a better chance to achieve some leg room. Trunk volume is an adequate 14.8 cubic feet, however.

The instrument panel in the new Elantra Coupe is drop-dead gorgeous. Hyundai’s signature gauge housings really set the tone and the data readout between the tach and speedometer is a great touch. For an inexpensive vehicle there are some very nice materials used in the dash, seats and door moldings. The GS comes standard with cloth seating and the SE comes with Leather seating surfaces.

Standard auto system is an Autonet 172-watt AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 with six speakers. Optional on the SE is a 360-watt 7-inch navigation system with high resolution touchscreen with rearview camera and picture slide show, AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 and premium audio with external amp.

Just about every safety feature you can imagine is standard in the new Elantra Coupe. Finally, like all Hyundai’s sold and serviced throughout more than 800 dealerships nationwide, the Coupe comes with Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

As if all the above wasn’t enough good news the pricing for the 2013 Elantra Coupe is the icing on the cake. MSRP for the GS with a manual transmission is $17,445; $18,445 for the GS w/Automatic. The SE manual is $19,745 and the automatic is $20,745. Freight charges are $775.

Even buying a top-of-the-line SE and ordering the optional Technology Package of $2,350 it’s still possible to load up this vehicle and stay under $25,000.

— Al Vinikour