Hyundai's Elantra might not be the most evocative nameplate on the Australian motoring landscape, but with the addition of the SR Turbo variant the Korean brand has reversed the Elantra’s respectable, mature image and injected a dose of fun.
The sedan style of the Elantra isn't as popular with Australian small car buyers as the i30 hatchback it lines up with, and there are very few small four-door performance alternatives, so will the Elantra SR Turbo find favour with local buyers?
After a week behind the wheel of the Elantra SR automatic the pumped-up Hyundai revealed more than just a sportier style, with added performance and intriguing handling into the mix.
Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Price: $31,290 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.2 l/100km | Tested: 8.0 l/100km
As the flagship of the Hyundai Elantra range, the SR Turbo arrives to join the existing Active and Elite models.
With a turbocharged engine and unique independent rear suspension, the Elantra SR Turbo offers some significant mechanical changes compared to the existing range, topped off with different front and rear bumpers, unique head and tail lights and a set of sporty twin-spoke alloy wheels.
Though it isn’t quite as rambunctious as proper hot hatches, like the Ford Focus ST or Holden Astra VXR, it’s worth keeping in mind that the 150kW Elantra SR is just 5kW (and 15Nm) short of the outputs achieved by the previous generation Volkswagen Golf GTI, phased out just four years ago.
That’s pretty decent company to keep and a sign that Hyundai is ready to step up its brand presence in Australia yet another notch.
- Standard Equipment: Leather seat trim, sports front seats with seat heating, powered driver’s seat, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel with paddle shifters, keyless entry and start, red contrast stitching, bi-Xenon headlights, sports-styled LED tail lights, chrome exhaust finisher, alloy pedals, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen, USB and Aux inputs with iPod compatibility, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, six-speaker audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible
- Cargo Volume: 458 litres with 60:40 folding rear seat
Falling towards the larger end of the small car scale, the Hyundai Elantra provides a roomy exterior, with generous front and rear legroom, a decent amount of cabin width and no problems with front head space.
Rear seats to miss out on headroom a little, especially occupants over about 185cm, while shorter travellers and children in particular will find a lack of outward visibility through the narrow rear glass and upswept belt line.
Dash design is more logical and less adventurous than the Elantra’s i30 hatchback sibling, with a horizontally-oriented layout and clear and simple controls. To add a dash of sporting flavour, there's carbon-look trims and an interior blackout treatment lift the SR above cooking Elantra models.
Other sporty touches, like the flat-bottomed steering wheel and more heavily bolstered front seats are SR exclusives. Alloy faced pedals and red contrasting stitching also help pump up the interior ambience.
Item’s like the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system come directly from the rest of the Elantra range, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring built in, but no stand-alone navigation system.
Boot space is a handy 458 litres, a little larger than you’ll find in a Mazda3 sedan, but falling slightly short compared to the Corolla four-door. In-cabin storage is well thought out, with a lidded bin ahead of the gear lever, deep door pockets, and a centre console and glovebox that will carry most day-to-day items.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: 305mm ventilated front discs, 262mm solid rear discs
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 10.6m turning circle
A standard Elantra teams a naturally aspirated 2.0 litre engine producing 112kW and 192Nm with a six-speed automatic. The Elantra SR ditches that entire setup and replaces it with a turbocharged 1.6 litre engine with 150kW and 265Nm.
The automatic transmission also changes, with the Elantra SR featuring a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic from the sporty Veloster coupe.
The changes don’t just occur up front either, as under the rear of the car Hyundai has adapted a multi-link independent suspension for greater roadholding, supplanting the simpler torsion beam rear of the regular Elantra.
In other words, despite still looking a little sedate from some angles, the Elantra SR is properly gym-toned and all the fitter for it, though perhaps not yet up to power-lifter status.
From behind the wheel the more powerful 1.6 litre turbocharged engine moves the Elantra SR along with greater urgency than the non-turbo versions can manage.
It’s still no blistering performance package, but as a mid-way step it works well. Open the taps and there’s a faint hint of cheeky exhaust noise (but never so much as to be tiresome) giving a clue as to the SR’s intent.
At times the seven-speed auto can feel a little reluctant to move from a standstill at part throttle, but with a bolder prod of the accelerator it soon wakes up. Once rolling the gear changes are swift and smooth, though not as lightning quick as a Volkswagen dual-clutch transmission.
When first introduced to the standard Elantra at its Tasmania launch TMR noted that the otherwise pedestrian sedan exhibited secure, and at times entertaining handling - and with the more advanced suspension system of the SR, not to mention a more sporting tune, the bar has been raised even higher.
Press on into a corner and the Elantra SR turns in keenly, with huge levels of grip and a secure, planted feel. There’s no doubt the handling package could handle more power but the balance feels spot-on the way it is.
Ride comfort hasn’t been tossed aside either. The SR rides slightly more firmly than the Elantra Elite but never feels rough or ragged, part of that lies with the conservatively sized 17-inch wheel package - perhaps not as visually enticing as larger wheels, but easier to live with day to day.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - The Elantra range scored 35.01 out of 37 possible points When tested in 2016.
Safety Features: The Elantra SR includes six airbags (dual front, front side, and full-length curtain), load-limiting pretensioners for front seatbelts, 2x rear ISOFIX and 3x top tether child seat mounting points, rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert.
Advanced features like autonomous braking and forward collision alert aren’t yet available on the Elantra range.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: The Elantra SR Turbo is covered under Hyundai’s iCare capped price servicing program, with service intervals set at 12 months/10,000km (whichever comes first). The first three services are priced at $259 each, with the fourth service at $299 and the fifth at $399. Consult your Hyundai dealer for full terms, conditions, and exclusions.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
It might be easy to forget about the Volkswagen Jetta 155TSI Highline Sport, but this swift sedan blends a touch of Golf GTI-inspired performance with a high level of standard features. Unfortunately the price is quite a bit higher too.
A firm favourite with Australian buyers, the Mazda3 SP25 range doesn’t quite match the punch of the Elantra SR Turbo, but certainly does a fine job of driving dynamics and interior presentation.
Though it may not match the Hyundai’s engine specs, the Ford Focus Titianium blends handsome looks, a quality interior, and secure dynamics to for a balanced and high-value sedan with an appealing array of features, including impressive safety tech.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Gently massaged in every crucial area, the Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo takes what was already a solid, refined, and high-quality package and builds on its strengths thanks to even finer handing and a more willing engine.
At the same time the Elantra SR Turbo retains the appeal that makes the base models so good, with a simple but roomy interior, appealing infotainment tech, and high levels of build quality.
In fact the Elantra SR hasn’t gone overboard with rock-hard suspension or a raucous exhaust to convey its sporting nature, but put it on the right stretch of road, and though it may not win every traffic light grands prix it’s sure to impress with enjoyable handling and fleet-of-foot acceleration.
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