Hyundai 2013 Elantra Coupe Review by Thom Cannell +VIDEO

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2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

By Thom Cannell
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

Asked “how are you? “ My reply is “Better Than Average!”. It’s not a smart-ass rejoinder, rather how I see the world. So if I were asked “what do you think of Hyundai’s Elantra Coupe and 5-door GT?” “Better Than Average,” would be my thoughtful reply.

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Hyundai alone offers its compact (Elantra) in family sedan, European-designed 5-door hatchback, and US-styled coupe versions. The new Coupe, distinctive among its siblings and against competitors, greets you with a bold and unique piano-black trapezoidal grille and smooth wraparound headlamps with integrated fog lights that appears vaguely Tiger shark-like. Slick side panels emphasize body length with crisp lines that extend from headlamp to rear window, and an echoing line that picks up the muscular wheel arch, whipping back to the wraparound tail lamp. Standard 5-spoke alloy wheels look custom. In addition there’s a terrifically proportioned rear end that includes rear spoiler and chromed dual exhaust.

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Under the sleek exterior is a uniquely tuned rear suspension and motor driven electric power steering system with specific tuning. Up front, MacPherson struts are shared with the whole clan. The engine, Hyundai’s 1.8-liter I4, delivers reasonable power on regular fuel—with an EPA-rated 28 City/39 Highway miles per gallon. That’s with the 6-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission. Standard 6-speed manual transmissions deliver an additional mile per gallon.

We’re split on which transmission is more fun for performance addicts. Hyundai’s SHIFTRONIC delivers snappy downshifts when you want to hit a corner hard or use the throttle to point deeply into a corner, and it’s far better in stop-and-go traffic. Either transmission gives a nod to the environment, providing an EcoShift indictor to signal maximum economy shift point for the manual and an Active Eco indicator for automatic transmissions. To be honest we ignored both, concentrating on evaluating vehicle dynamics (having fun), instead of improving our normally economical driving habits.

Watch TACH's exclusive Hyundai Elantra promo video

The relatively small engine packs a lot of technology (and a decent punch) including friction-reducing offset crankshaft, no-maintenance timing chain, wide-band dual overhead cam timing, and has better specific output (horsepower per liter of displacement) than Honda Civic Coupe or Kia Forte Koup, and meets or beats their fuel economy. Interestingly the Elantra Coupe is lighter than Honda’s Coupe.

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Only gray and black interiors are offered, with heated and deeply bolstered front seats standard. Base models use cloth and SE trim level cars deliver leather with perforated center-seat sections. We think the seating comfort, cloth or leather, is far better than average for smaller drivers as well as those at the up side of standard. They’re sculpted, wrapping around just enough to make you feel cozy without being restrictive like a racing style seat, and the standard seats manually adjust for height, rake, and distance. Having a standard tilt-telescope steering wheel means you get to sit and drive as you choose, not in someone else's idea of an ideal driving position. SE models use ten-way power seats. Frankly, that’s the least important of the upgrades.

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Hyundai sells value and the 2013 Elantra Coupe is no exception. Base models have the style, standard fog lamps, 16” alloys, full-feature audio with radio/satellite, CD/MP3/iPod/Aux jack and 6 speakers. AC is also standard as are full steering wheel controls including Bluetooth and voice recognition, plus power everything including proximity keys (key stays in your pocket or purse) and push button start-stop. Setting SE models apart are 17’ alloy wheels and tires and a suspension tuned for them specifically, sunroof, aluminum pedals, and side mirrors with integrated turn signals. The only option package delivers a 7” navigation system with rear view camera that does have split screens and graphics of upcoming signs. Its database seems quite thorough, making just one mistake in crowded souther California. The upgraded 360 Watt sound system it totally rocks, regardless your favorite genre, plus there’s auto temperature controls and auto headlamps. Base pricing starts at $18,220 MSRP, and a typical Elantra Coupe SE with automatic has an MSRP of $21,520 (both including freight charge) with the optional tech package adding $2,350.

What this doesn’t really tell you is how inviting the car really is, outside and in. We observed coupes in each of the seven colors from every angle and they are very good looking, particularly at the tightly bonded rear and predatory front. European 3-flash turn signals are standard and welcome. The car handles with poise until you ask the twist-beam rear suspension to hustle around a corner with sizable potholes or bumps. Then it wants to dance a bit sidewise, nothing that will upset most drivers. More noticeable is how you can push hard through corners with no tire noise, particularly if you engage the Sport mode or downshift a manual. Another surprise is the lack of noise from road, chassis, or wind. Every year small cars get quieter, a quiet we used to expect only from luxury cars.

Elantra Coupe compares favorably with its competition with more interior space than Accord or Altima Coupes and stopping distance shorter than Civic Coupe. Six air bags and a full suite of electronic stability controls, plus extensive high strength steel suggests safe, as well as economical driving. Its quietness and overall road manners are impressive and its pricing, even for the ES and technology package is affordable for many families with smaller children (let’s be honest about coupes and two doors). Hyundai’s transferrable 5/year 60,000 mile warranty and 10/100,000 mile powertrain warranty only sweetens the deal.

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