2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe First Drive - MotorTrend
Filling its Role: Growing the Elantra Lineup by Lopping off Two Doors
Let's get this out of the way: The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is not a driver's car. You're not going to be ripping through Southern California's beautiful Pauma Valley -- or any other stretch of squiggly asphalt ribbon, for that matter -- without quickly encountering the Elantra Coupe's performance limits.
That's not to say Hyundai didn't do anything to the Elantra two-door for 2013. It fitted it with handful of handling and suspension updates designed to sport the coupe up a smidgen over the Elantra sedan. But it's clear what this car (along with the also-new-to-the-lineup Elantra GT hatch) is supposed to do when it hits Hyundai showrooms: offer prospective Elantra customers more choice with another attractive, affordable (and don't forget fuel-efficient!) compact-car package.
Modern-day coupes are expected to have a bit more pizzazz than their sedan counterparts in the styling department, and the wedgy Elantra Coupe doesn't disappoint, deploying several subtle but effective updates to the Elantra sedan's take on Hyundai's swooped-out Fluidic Sculpture design aesthetic.
Changes are mainly from the rear quarter panels back, where predictably most of the work was done. The unique rear end features a classy pair of chrome exhaust tips flush right, integrated into a blacked-out lower fascia. The taillights have been slightly reworked, and there's a pronounced rear spoiler on SE models. There are other small nip/tucks, including slightly different rocker panels and minor front end bits, most notably the blacked-out trapezoidal grille treatment, depending on trim level. The coupe also gets its own set of unique, optional 17-inch alloys for the SE trim.
Powering the Elantra Coupe is the same 1.8-liter I-4 as the sedan, with 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic. While more powerful than the 140-hp Honda Civic coupe (its main bogey) and slightly more efficient (29/40 city/highway vs. 28/36 for manual models; automodels are both 28/39), we would have liked to have seen some more horses under the hood. We hear an update to the 1.8 is in the offing soon, which will no doubt help matters. The 2012 Elantra sedans we've most recently tested ran from 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds in automatic guise; 7.8 seconds with the manual. Given that the coupe has roughly the same dimensions and weight as the sedan (other than being 0.4 inch longer), we'd expect similar numbers. We piloted an automatic-equipped model during our drive, which doesn't like to hold a gear when spurred hard. The coupe could use Hyundai's DCT dual-clutch automatic and some paddles to go with it.
Out on the open road, as my drive partner and fellow MT editor Benson Kong put it: "The Elantra coupe is not a car that should be rushed, but driven at a relaxed pace so onlookers can take in the styling." We found it to be a perfectly capable car around town and on the freeway, one that does a good job soaking up road imperfections and is relatively quiet and composed at higher speeds.
But when rushed during our jaunt in and around the Pauma Valley, it did little to wow us with its dynamic capabilities, despite handling updates specific to the coupe, including Hyundai's V-Beam rear suspension with integrated, 22mm rear stabilizerbar, tuned dampers, and a revised steering rack. Hyundai has left the door open to further powertrain and suspension updates, which would be welcome news for enthusiast types. R-Spec, anyone?
The Elantra Coupe is large inside for a compact two-door, and has considerably more passenger and cargo volume than the Civic coupe. Empty nesters shouldn't have any problem taking another couple out to dinner and the movies. Both front and rear seat leg and headroom were more than sufficient for your humble 6-foot, 1-inch scribe, and ingress and egress was relatively straightforward, although we weren't in love with its high driver's seat position.
If you're familiar with Elantra sedan's cabin, then you know what to expect from the coupe, which is anchored by the funky v-shaped center stack with power and device inputs integrated into a lower storage compartment. Other than the addition of seats with a bit more bolstering, the rest of the cabin is virtually the same as the sedan, with tech and features we've come to expect from Hyundai: the available technology package with 7-inch navigation, rear-view camera, 360-watt sound system, and the brand's Blue Link telematics.
If you're in the market for a true performance-themed coupe from Hyundai, there's always the Genesis Coupe or the not-quite-a-coupe Veloster Turbo. But if you're searching for a stylish, sporty-ish, fuel-efficient two-door starting at a modest price, the Elantra Coupe is worth taking for a spin.