Hyundai has added a new version of the Elantra sedan to its Australian line-up, and it may not be what you were expecting.
The new model is positioned as the flagship of the Elantra line-up, but rather than simply adding more luxury items and marketing the newest Elantra model at retirees, Hyundai has gone down the performance path with a turbocharged engine and improved handling.
Though the Elantra SR Turbo isn’t a fully-fledged performance car in the vein of a Golf GTI, and more of a warm-sedan than properly hot, that doesn’t mean that Hyundai has shied away from giving the Elantra SR Turbo a comprehensive makeover.
Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Price: $28,990 manual, $31,290 automatic (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo patrol | 6sp manual, 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.6 l/100km manual, 7.0 l/100km automatic
Cosmetically the Elantra SR Turbo brings more-aggressively styled front and rear bumpers, a black-trimmed sports grille, chrome-tipped exhaust, twin-spoke alloys, sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
There’s more to it than just styling additions though. Under the bonnet you’ll find the same 150kW turbo engine as fitted to the Veloster SR Turbo, and at the rear the Elantra rides on a multi-link rear suspension in place of the torsion beam suspension used in the Elantra Active and Elite.
A promising start indeed.
- Standard Equipment: Leather seat trim, power-adjustable sports front seats with seat heating, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, keyless entry and start, red contrast stitching for seats, steering wheel, and gearknob, red seatbelts, bi-Xenon headlights, sports-styled LED taillights, chrome exhaust finisher, alloy pedals, steering wheel gear-shift paddles (automatic only), 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 compatible
- Options Available: Red leather interior, $295
- Cargo Volume: 458 litres, expandable via 60:40 folding rear seats
Inside the Elantra SR Turbo some things change, and some stay the same.
To maintain the sporting theme, the Elantra SR Turbo is upgraded with carbon fibre-style trim pieces on the dash and doors, plus dark charcoal metallic door handles. The flat-bottomed steering wheel, black headlining, and alloy pedals also hint at the SR’s sporting intent.
The front seats have been upgraded with bigger bolsters and ‘Sport’ logos and come trimmed in black leather (or optional red leather) and include seat heaters and powered adjustment.
But some things haven’t changed like the rear seat space, which, thanks to the Elantra’s long wheelbase, offers plenty of legroom but gives up headroom slightly (courtesy of the sloping rear roofline).
The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system carries over from other Elantra models, loaded with Apple CarPlay connectivity, plus USB inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio, but missing in-built satellite navigation.
Of itself, the standard Elantra feels modern, well trimmed, and comfortable; this new addition to the range takes those strengths and weaves through a more sporting feel in line with the SR Turbo’s positioning.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
- Transmission: Six-speed manual or 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 asiisted power steering, 10.6m turning circle
Hyundai has set to work to transform the capable but calm Elantra into the faster, sportier and more fun-to-drive Elantra SR Turbo - an interesting precursor to the forthcoming N Performance brand that Hyundai is preparing to launch.
But it is important to remember that the Elantra SR isn't a hot hatch (well, hot sedan actually) and nor is it trying to be. It sits lower on the performance ladder and more in line with the Mazda3 SP25 and Nissan Pulsar SSS rather than the Ford Focus ST or Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Under the bonnet the naturally aspirated 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine of the ‘regular’ Elantra has been turfed out, and in its place sits a 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit.
That’s enough to give the Elantra SR Turbo 150kW of power at 6000rpm (up from 112kW) and 265Nm of torque from 1500 to 4500rpm (from 192Nm). You’ll find the same motor deployed in the Veloster SR Turbo hatch, though the outputs have been tweaked slightly in the name of driveability.
A choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is offered, with torque sent to the front wheels.
Under the rear of the car Hyundai has replaced the usual Elantra torsion beam suspension with its latest multi-link independent setup - the same as will make its way into high-end variants of the next generation i30 hatch due in 2017.
Once again Hyundai Australia has tuned the suspension to local roads and our introduction to the new Elantra SR showcased the benefits of that work across some of the best driving roads in Australia - across the Victorian Alps between Albury and Bairnsdale.
The Elantra SR felt at home over every combination of twist and turn you can imagine. The suspension proved well-sorted, offering up excellent grip and response but with enough compliance to prevent big hits from jarring the cabin.
The steering offers good feedback and is nicely nicely weighted on the open road.
The 1.6 litre turbo engine pulls strongly from low down in the rev range and stays on the boil well into its mid-range. It isn't overwhelmingly powerful but provides more than adequate grunt for its role.
The softest aspect of the Elantra SR Turbo proved to be its brakes, though Hyundai has enlarged the front brake rotors by 25mm to try and help cope with the SR’s additional performance.
The single-piston calipers bite hard at first but quickly begin to fade; and repeated hard stops showed a noticeable increase in brake pedal travel during our introductory drive.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars - the Hyundai Elantra range scored 35.01 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2016.
Safety Features: All Elantra models come with 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, and a rear view camera.
The Elantra SR Turbo also adds blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert.
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
Perhaps the most obvious challenger to the Elantra SR is the Mazda3, particularly the more powerful (without overdoing it) SP25 range, available in both hatch and sedan. Nissan also does a warm sedan in the form of the Pulsar SSS, though neither it, nor the Mazda3 can match the slightly gruntier Elantra SR.
Volkswagen adds sporting flavour to the Jetta with the Highline Sport, but it asks a fair bit more money to do so (though it’s not exactly out of reach), while a Mitsubishi Lancer GSR sedan provides racey looks, but with tamer mechanicals and at a much lower price as a result.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
When TMR first drove the new Elantra earlier this year we discovered a high quality small sedan that offered modern appeal, good value, and was an unexpectedly bright handler - certainly better than it really needed to be.
That was an encouraging sign for this car, the Elantra SR Turbo, and though we knew Hyundai was going to one-up the regular Elantra by introducing a multi-link rear suspension, it wasn’t until this introductory drive that we could experience how well the package worked together.
Of course it isn’t as sizzling-hot as something like a Peugeot 308 GTi or Renault Megane RS, but those cars with their more powerful engines and firm suspensions are not what Hyundai had in mind, and nor are they as easy to live with on a daily basis as Hyundai’s more livable, but still fun-to-drive solution.
While small sedans may not enjoy the market share of hatchbacks in the Australian market, we’d be surprised if Hyundai’s warmed-over Elantra SR Turbo doesn’t turn some attention back to the four-door market.
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