2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe road test
New Elantra two-door has grace and space but not much pace
Monster pickups are not the only peculiarity of the North American automotive landscape. Another is the compact coupe. In most other major markets, small cars come as hatchbacks first, and sedans second. Two-door coupes that have been spun off from mainstream four-doors are a phenomenon pretty much unique to the U.S. — and hence, also, to us.
Why this is so I'm not sure, but over the years small-car buyers have shown a healthy appetite for the two-door versions of Canada's most popular small cars — Cavalier, Cobalt, Civic, Sunfire etc. And now Hyundai wants a piece of the action. The compact Elantra, which in sedan form alone has been making a serious bid for the Honda Civic's top-selling-car crown, now also comes as a coupe.
What's interesting about this practicality-challenged breed of small cars is that they are not 2+2 sports coupes a la, say, the Toyota Celicas and Mitsubishi Eclipses of yore. Yes, some of them are available in high-performance versions, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule: most of these coupes are no sportier to drive than the workaday sedans they're based on — nor do they try to be.
What's unusual about the Elantra is that the coupe matches the sedan for space. Every key dimension, inside and out, is within a millimetre or few of its four-door equivalent. And since the sedan is one of the roomiest in its category, that makes the Elantra coupe the-same-only-more-so among coupes. The Honda Civic coupe, conversely, has a shorter wheelbase than its sedan sibling, with corresponding deficits in rear-seat kneeroom and headroom.
The Scion tC and Kia Koup are roomier than the Civic, but still concede to the Hyundai in people room (2,701 L) and cargo volume (420 L). Bottom line: the Elantra isn't just roomy "for a coupe," it's roomier than most sedans in its segment.
Comes loaded, or even loaded-er
There are no coupe equivalents of the sedan's humbler L and GL trims: the "base" Coupe is a well-appointed GLS while the uplevel SE trim is unique to the two-door. At $19,949 for the GLS six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic is optional) standard amenities include A/C, Bluetooth, iPod/USB/Aux jacks, a power sunroof, power locks/windows/mirrors, cruise, and heated seats.
The SE seems a bit confused about what it wants to be: it does have sport-tuned suspension and footwear to match (215/45R17s) but is only available as an automatic — go figure! Also included at $25,199 are a seven-inch touch-screen navigation system with rear-view camera; proximity keyless entry with push-button start; dual-zone automatic climate control; and leather.
Mechanically the coupe shares with the sedan a 1.8-litre engine developing 148 horsepower and 131 lb.-ft. of torque, four-wheel disc brakes, electric power steering (EPS) and MacPherson strut front suspension. Unique to the coupes are a very slightly quicker steering ratio, and what Hyundai describes as a V-beam version of the semi-independent rear torsion-beam suspension.
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