The compact coupe segment is a much smaller one today than it was a couple years ago. General Motors had a longstanding tradition of coupes that began way back, with the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird/Sunfire and carried forward to the Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac Pursuit/G5. Those two-doors disappeared when, first, Pontiac was killed off and, then, when the four-door only Cruze replaced the Cobalt in 2011.
Ford sold a two-door Focus from 2008 through 2011, but it too went away with the introduction of the 2012 Focus.
That leaves the popular Honda Civic coupe, Kia’s Forte Koup—a relative newcomer—and this car, the even newer 2013 Hyundai Elantra coupe, to appeal for buyers looking for a small, inexpensive two-door.
It’s no surprise that Hyundai names the only two other compact coupes left as its key competitors with this first-ever Elantra two-door. The only other car that could be considered similar in price and target demographic is the Scion tC, but it’s a hatchback (not that that necessarily matters) and it’s not much of a threat sales-wise because, despite Scion’s value-added approach, the Toyota sub-brand’s cars don’t exactly fly out of showrooms.
Hyundai’s two calling cards here are the car’s looks, which adopts the sedan’s Fluidic Design (over)styling, and its interior space: the company says this car has more of it than the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima coupes, both of which are based on big family sedans. Hyundai achieved that by leaving the Elantra sedan’s 2,700-mm wheelbase intact (the two-door versions of the Accord, Altima and the Civic all ride on abbreviated versions of the platforms that underpin their respective sedans). The result is a back seat that offers as much legroom as the Elantra sedan, and only a little less headroom, due to the more rakish roofline.
The huge front doors are a bonus for easier rear-seat access, but a hindrance in tight parking situations. My other coupe annoyance, the reach back for the front seatbelts, is mitigated by belt extender arms that put it within reach (and can be folded out of the way to ease rear-seat ingress and egress).
Hyundai says the coupe’s cargo capacity is 420 L, same as the sedan. The split-folding rear seat is here, too, and reveals a so-so-sized opening to the passenger compartment.
The coupe is powered by the same 1.8L “Nu” engine used in the sedan and GT. Hyundai is quick to point out that its power figures of 148 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque are 8 hp and 3 lb-ft more than the Civic’s 1.8L makes. The Forte Koup’s 2.0L makes 156 hp and 144 lb-ft, and an optional 2.4L mill adds 17 hp and 24 lb-ft to those numbers. The Scion tC goes even further, with a 2.5L engine that’s good for 180 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque. And, of course, all of this ignores the Civic Si, with its 201 hp and 170 lb-ft.