Elantra Sport: Can Hyundai Compete With the Civic Si and Jetta GLI?
As Hyundai continues to weigh public interest in rambunctious vehicles like the turbocharged Veloster Rally Edition, it has set in motion a series of events that have garnered our attention. According to a report by Edmunds.com, “the high-performance 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport will arrive at Hyundai dealerships later this year, following a debut at the 2016 SEMA Show.” That may not sound overwhelming, but when you hear what they have in store, you too might raise an eyebrow.
If Hyundai isn’t yanking our chain, the forthcoming version of the Elantra Sport will have both the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI in its crosshairs. The idea takes the redesigned 2017 sedan that is on sale now, and makes it far more performance oriented than ever before. Reportedly receiving the 201 horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter motor out of the Veloster, this yet-to-be-revealed version will sport bigger brakes, larger, 18-inch wheels, a re-tuned front suspension and a multilink rear suspension, and a healthy slathering of interior upgrades.
While details remain shrouded, Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski did tell Edmunds that the Elantra Sport will be geared entirely “at the performance enthusiast.” He went on to explain that “we have not really had a (Honda Civic) Si type of product before. We have had Sport models among the Elantras, but this is a completely different vehicle.”
Based on what we’ve seen and experienced in vehicles like the R-spec Genesis and the 2.0T Sonata Sport, this shift toward a more aggressive automobile might actually result in a very capable Elantra. Here is what Hyundai is thinking about doing, and why we are looking forward to driving this forthcoming performance machine.
The previous sport versions of the Elantra focused almost entirely on engine performance and neglected crucial components like brakes, aerodynamics, and suspension. While a potent powerplant is undoubtedly an important place to start, upgrading the way a car handles is just as important as how much torque it is throwing at the tarmac. But exactly how much aggressive styling can we expect?
“The exterior will have unique styling on the front and rear, so significant changes,” says Brandon Ramirez, Hyundai senior group manager of product planning. “We anticipate that is going to be maybe 7-10% of our (sales) mix.”
The Sport model is slated to be positioned as the Elantra line’s top-tier offering, and Hyundai is working vigorously in order to offer a wide array of accessories so that buyers can personalize vehicles as they see fit. Interestingly enough, the Korean automaker has even taken it as far as getting aftermarket performance part manufacturers to R&D specialty products exclusively for this chassis.
When asked if it would be targeting the Ford Focus RS or ST, Hyundai said that for the time it would not be contending with either of these performance hot hatches. Hyundai also clearly stated that an Elantra coupe is not in the works whatsoever, nor is a hybrid model. As for the Elantra Sport, pricing has not been announced, and since teaser images of the vehicle have been equally impossible to obtain, we’re left with little more than these images of the recently released regular version and our imagination.