The cars we loved.
Once a common animal on America’s roads, the small inexpensive coupe has become an endangered species. In today’s compact car market the choices almost narrow down to a handful- or two if you count the Elantra Coupe’s platformate the Kia Koup. Hyundai’s Elantra has grown from a competent sedan only car to a five door hatch and more recently a two door coupe. The coupe is interesting because it joins the related Kia Koupe as one of the few affordable coupes in the compact car market in America.
While competitors like the Focus, Golf and Mazda 3 only come with four or 5 doors, the Elantra like the Civic and tC is available as a attractive coupe. Hyundai’s biggest selling point has always been price, but lately the initial quality is nipping at the heels of the Japanese competition. Time will tell if current Elantras hold up like Hondas have, but the growing sales of Elantras would suggest that there’s more to Hyundais than just price.
If value is measured in gadgets for the money, comfort and style, the Elantra coupe would win brownie points. The expressive Fludic Sculpture body design language might be a bit too expressive for some, but it makes the Elantra coupe look more expensive than it is. It’s only weak point may be the rear end that looks like a drooping baby diaper.
The interior continues the flowing fludic theme with a center stack that seems to snake up to the dash from the back seats. It’s very upscale and unexpected in a car at this price point. Ford and Honda could learn a thing or two about simple elegant dash designs that incorporate touchscreens by looking at the Elantra.
Arguably, the only fault with the Elantra Coupe may be that its looks might imply a level of performance or refinement that is not quite there yet. True, the interior looks racy, but subtracting two doors from the sedan did not yield a sexier looking car overall. In fact Hyundai saves all the visual spunk in the Elantra line for the five door hatch called the GT. All coupe versions of the Honda Civic or Scion tC offer a level of performance lacking in the Elantra Coupe, but then again Hyundai is targeting a driver who is not looking for a boy racer driving experience.
Regardless of what model you choose, all Elantra come with a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine good for 148 hp. That engine can be mated to a six speed manual or automatic transmission. While performance is respectable, its not anything to write home about (about 8 seconds to 60 with the automatic and 120 mph top speed), the Coupe is more about frugal style with a touch of practicality.
In this regard the Alabama built Elantra Coupe succeeds. In its first year out the gate as a 2013 model, the Coupe won a few “car of the year” awards including the North American Car of the Year honor at the Detroit Auto Show in 2012. For now Hyundai must be pleased with its positioning of the coupe as the less than sporty model in the Elantra line up.
If more power and performance is wanted, Kia will happily sell you a Forte with a more powerful 2.0 or 2.4 liter engine. Hyundai Elantra buyers will more likely appreciate the added kit that comes with the coupe over competitors all while staying around the magical under $20k mark . While the ride might lean more toward floaty and soft vs. firm with plenty of road feel, the Elantra Coupe is still a welcomed entrant to a vanishing breed of car.