Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra coupe

Manufacturer’s web site
Hyundai Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Photo Gallery:
2013 Hyundai Elantra coupe

The new two-door Hyundai Elantra Coupe is the third body style offered under the Elantra banner, joining the Elantra four-door sedan and Elantra GT (four-door hatchback). The Coupe is targeted at “youthful, sporty buyers willing to forgo four-door versatility for coupe design appeal,” according to a Hyundai news blurb. The Coupe’s sculpted bodywork is similar to the Elantra four-door sedan’s but seems a better fit for the coupe: its sweeping wedge-shaped profile, large grille, prominent fender bulges and sculpted sides are more in tune with a fun-loving, youth-oriented sporty coupe than a practical, four-door sedan. That might give the Elantra Coupe an edge in the compact sporty coupe market where its three main competitors, the Honda Civic Coupe, Scion tC, and Kia Forte Koup, have decidedly less adventurous styling, in my opinion.

The 2013 Elantra Coupe also features a unique grille with a chrome perimeter (in SE Coupes, the middle section of the front bumper is painted glossy black); a rear lip spoiler (SE models only), a black diffuser at the base of the rear bumper, and twin chrome tailpipe extensions.

Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE. Click image to enlarge

Mechanically, the Elantra Coupe is the same as the Elantra Sedan and GT: under its short, sloping hood is a 148-hp 1.8L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission in the base GLS ($19,949) or optional six-speed automatic with manual shift mode ($21,149). Standard stuff in the base GLS model includes 16-inch alloys, fog lights, air conditioning, sunroof, satellite radio, USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth hands-free phone, cloth seats, heated front seats, and height-adjustable driver’s seat.

The top-of-the-line Elantra Coupe SE ($25,199) (like today’s test car) comes with a standard 6-speed automatic “Shiftronic” transmission, and adds leather upholstery and leatherette door inserts, 17-inch polished alloys with black inserts, rear lip spoiler, seven-inch touchscreen, navigation system, back-up camera, power windows with pinch protection, automatic climate control, and aluminum pedals. With a Freight charge of $1,495 and A/C tax of $100, our SE Coupe test car came to $26,794.

Hyundai doesn’t yet offer a performance version of the Elantra Coupe to rival the Civic Si Coupe, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one next year. It is a mystery though, why a manual transmission is not offered in the Elantra Coupe SE trim level. Surely some buyers want a navigation system with their stick!

Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE. Click image to enlarge

Like the 140-hp 1.8L Civic Coupe and the base 156-hp 2.0L Kia Forte Koup EX, the 148-hp 1.8L Hyundai Elantra Coupe is designed more for fuel economy than performance, whereas the 173-hp 2.4L Kia Forte Koup SX and the 180-hp 2.5L Scion tC coupe put a greater emphasis on performance. That’s reflected in Canadian fuel economy ratings where the Civic Coupe five-speed automatic is rated the most fuel efficient with 7.2 L/100 km city and 5.0 L/100 km highway, followed closely by the Elantra Coupe six-speed auto with 7.6 city/5.3 highway, the Kia Forte Koup EX 2.0 six-speed auto with 8.0 city/5.7 highway, the Scion tC six-speed auto with 8.9 city/6.3 highway, and the Kia Forte Koup SX 2.4 six-speed auto with 9.0 city/6.4 highway. These Natural Resources Canada ratings are good for comparison purposes, but they don’t reflect real-world fuel consumption; a more realistic rating for the Elantra Coupe comes from the American EPA, which rates the manual model at 8.4 city/6.4 highway, and the automatic at 8.7 city/6.4 highway.

Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE. Click image to enlarge

The Elantra Coupe’s performance could be described as adequate but not exciting: with the automatic transmission, its 0 to 100 km/h is estimated is 9.6 seconds vs 10 seconds for the Civic Coupe automatic, according to Automobile-catalog.com—that’s one to two seconds slower than the Scion tC and Forte Koup SX. The Elantra’s four-cylinder engine lets out a muted buzz under acceleration but it’s not particularly noisy and it’s reasonably quiet at highway speeds where it turns over just 2,000 rpm at a steady 100 km/h. The six-speed automatic changes up and down unobtrusively and can be shifted manually using the sequential manual shift pattern—push forward to shift up, pull back to shift down.

The Coupe’s handling is flat and steady with the SE’s 17-inch tires—our car was equipped with Hankook Optimo 215/45R 17-inch all-seasons which provided good grip in dry and wet pavement conditions and proved reasonably quiet at highway speeds. The Elantra’s suspension consists of front MacPherson struts with coil springs and a rear semi-independent torsion beam with gas shocks and coil springs. That and a 2,700-mm wheelbase (80 mm longer than the Civic Coupe) contribute to a fairly comfortable ride without the choppiness found in shorter wheelbase coupes. With its low-revving top gear and compliant ride, the Elantra Coupe is quite a comfortable highway cruiser.

Steering effort is light, turn-in responsiveness is good, and its power rack-and-pinion steering offers a reasonably tight 10.6-metre (34.8-ft) turning circle. The driver’s visibility is quite good, helped by the long rear side windows, which aid visibility when changing lanes. Still, like other sporty coupes that have a high rear deck, rearward visibility is compromised, and there is no rear wiper. Only the Scion tC offers one in this class. However, the Elantra Coupe SE’s rear-view camera certainly helps when backing into a parking space.

Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
>Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE. Click image to enlarge

Being a fairly lightweight car (1,305 kg) with beefy 17-inch tires, four disc brakes, ABS, and stability control, the Elantra Coupe stops quickly and pedal feel is firm.

While compact coupes typically sacrifice practicality for style, the Elantra Coupe is more practical than most. Like its competitors, it’s a five-passenger coupe, but its passenger volume of 2,701 L is significantly roomier: it compares to the Civic Coupe’s 2,340 L, the Forte Koup’s 2,502 L, and the Scion tC’s 2,503 L. Front passengers have plenty of room, and the driver’s seat is height adjustable, although I found that even the lowest height setting felt too high for me, and I’m only 175 cm (5’9”). The driver’s seat offers good side support when cornering, but there is no lumbar adjustment. Getting in and out of the Elantra’s rear seat was easier than expected—the right front seat slides forward when the seatback is folded (but not the driver’s seat)—and there was enough legroom, footroom, and headroom for my frame. However, I wouldn’t put more than two adults in the rear. There is a fold-down centre armrest at the rear with two cupholders.

The Elantra Coupe’s trunk is also roomier than its competitors’: 420 L vs 321 L (Civic), 358 L (Forte) and 417 L (tC). It’s fully lined, and includes levers to release the split 60/40 rear seatbacks.

Note that the Elantra Coupe is a two-door coupe with a trunk, not a two-door hatchback or liftback. That gives the Coupe extra torsional rigidity and stiffness since the trunk opening isn’t as huge; but it also means a smaller trunk opening and less overall trunk space. Of course, those who want more practicality have the option of the Elantra GT hatchback model.

The Elantra Coupe’s cabin is very nicely finished, particularly in the top SE trim, and dare I say, much nicer than the Civic and tC (although we are reliably informed that the 2013 Civic Coupe’s interior will be upgraded).

Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
Test Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE car test drives reviews hyundai
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE. Click image to enlarge

All 2013 Elantra Coupes have standard heated front seats, even the cloth seats. Base GLS models get a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM satellite audio system with six speakers, USB and auxiliary ports for music players, Bluetooth wireless hands-free cell phone hookup, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, air conditioning, power glass sunroof with sliding sunshade, power windows and locks, cruise control, trip computer with average fuel economy, centre armrest with storage, and heated side mirrors. The SE adds leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button ignition start and keyless entry, seven-inch touchscreen and navigation system, rear-view camera, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and turn indicators in the mirrors.

The cabin’s curvy instrument panel uses an attractive mix of black plastics, glossy piano-black trim, chrome, silver and titanium-look accents, and bright illuminated gauges—it all seems a notch above this class of car. I particularly liked the easy-to-read illuminated tachometer and speedometer, sliding centre padded armrest with storage bin, the covered storage box at the base of the centre stack with hidden USB, aux, and 12-volt power outlets, and the big metal dead pedal for resting my left foot. On the negative side, I found the silver buttons around the touchscreen and climate control hard to read at times, the touchscreen is not shielded from the sun’s glare, and there are really just too many curves in that dashboard design.

The centre screen shows navigation, audio, and telephone functions, but not climate. Certain functions can be voice-activated, but not all. For example, you can say a command to turn on the radio, choose the media type, or seek up or down the station dial, but you can’t change channels by naming them, or increase the volume. Those things can be done using buttons on the dash or steering wheel. You can also input some navigation voice commands, such as your destination, by voice commands, and operate the Bluetooth telephone system using voice commands.

Like the Kia Forte Koup, the Hyundai Elantra Coupe comes with a standard 5-year/100,000 km warranty that covers the entire car. That’s better than the Scion tC and Honda Civic Coupe which offer a 3-year/60,000 km warranties on the whole car and a 5-year/100,000 km warranties on the powertrain.

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE is priced about the same as the comparably equipped Civic Coupe EX-L ($24,890) and Forte Koup SX ($25,995) but costs about $3,800 more than the Scion tC ($21,990), but the tC doesn’t include leather, heated seats, dual zone automatic climate control, or navigation.

Expressively styled, comparatively roomy, and fuel-efficient, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is likely to alter the balance of power in the compact sporty coupe class, as the Elantra sedan did in the compact sedan segment.

Pricing: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE auto
Base price (SE): $25,199
Options: None
Freight and PDI: $ 1,495
a/c tax: $100
Price as tested: $26,794

Competitors
Honda Civic Coupe
Kia Forte Koup
Scion tC




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).