Hyundai Elantra Coupe — Attractive and fuel efficient

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

If you like the styling of the compact Hyundai Elantra sedan, you will like the all-new Elantra coupe. If you like the performance, ride and handling of the sedan, you will like the coupe. If you like the excellent gas mileage of the sedan, you will like the coupe. If you like the interior design....well, you get the picture the coupe is very nearly an exact copy of the sedan, but with two fewer doors.

Coupes are usually considered sexier and more youth-oriented than their sedan counterparts, with an extra edge of performance, and with superior handling traits. In the case of the Elantra — a dramatically styled sedan in the new stable of dramatically styled cars and crossovers — the coupe takes on even more alluring lines as a svelte two-door.

But alluring lines in this case does not mean more performance. The coupe is outfitted with the same engine and transmission, and from our driving perspective the same suspension tuning as the sedan.

The standard engine is the 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline 4-cylinder putting out 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and a six-speed automatic are available. If you’re hell bent on shifting gears then the manual will suit you to a tee. However, we found the automatic to be the quicker of the two.

Transmission choice aside the Elantra Coupe is still going to return excellent fuel economy — 40 mpg highway with the manual, 39 with automatic. The manual gets 29 mpg city and a combined 33 mpg; the automatic gets an estimated 28 mpg city and 32 mpg combined.

Performance is adequate from the 4-cylinder, certainly up to compact coupe standards as measured by what Hyundai calls its chief competitors — the Kia Forte and Honda Civic. The coupe can climb from 0 to 60 with foot to the floor in about 9 seconds and complete a quarter mile run in 16.9 seconds at 84 mph.

What this means in the real world of driving is that the Elantra can merge and pass without unnecessary drama. But when higher rpm is demanded, the engine gets a bit noisy and harsh sounding.

The ride is smooth and this is generally a good thing because, combined with an acceptably noise-free cabin, it leads to a relaxed environment. That's a plus in vehicles that start for less than 20 grand.

But the softness has a downside because it's a detriment to spirited driving, leading to more lean and flex than we would like in a car that looks this sporty. Severe road imperfections are more pronounced, as well. Admittedly, this will probably not be a big concern for a majority of buyers.

Hyundai says the coupe’s passenger space has not been sacrificed when compared to the Elantra sedan. The coupe's front passenger space is the same and rear space — according to the specifications chart — is slightly larger with 0.2-inch more leg room, 0.4-inch more hip room and identical front  headroom. Of course, the sedan has the obvious advantage of easier entry and exit. However while we found rear-seat legroom to be adequate, tall riders may not have adequate headroom because of the sloping roof.†In addition to a spacious interior, the Elantra has a relatively large trunk measured at 14.8 cubic feet.

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 tachometer 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 Elantra Coupe comes in two trim levels — GS and SE — starting at $18,220 including destination charge. The SE manual begins at $20,520. Add $1,000 for the automatic in both trim levels. Our well-equipped SE test car with the technology package (upgraded audio, navigation) came in at $23,229.

Safety is also loaded into all models and includes traction and stability control, four-wheel antilock brakes, active head restraints, and front side airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags.

All models come equipped with a generous amount of standard features including air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, six airbags, stability and traction control, and heated front seats. The SE gets 17-inch wheels and sportier suspension tuning, and additional options include keyless entry/ignition, leather upholstery, and sunroof plus dual-zone automatic climate control. A 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, a rearview camera and iPod/USB connection are also available.

For someone in the market for a well-equipped and relatively spacious sporty looking car at an affordable price, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is a top choice.

Base price: $18,222; as driven, $23,229
Engine: 1.8-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 148 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 131 foot-pounds @ 4,700 rpm
Drive: front wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 178.7 inches
Curb weight: 2,729 pounds
Turning circle: 34.8 feet
Luggage capacity: 14.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 13.8 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 39 highway, 28 (city)
0-60: 9 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Scion tC

The Good
• Same interior dimensions as sedan
• Excellent fuel economy
• Long list of standard features

The Bad
• Limited rear head room

The Ugly
• Sporty looks do not equal sporty feel