2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
Call us skeptics all you want, but whenever a carmaker tacks the word “sport” onto an existing model, we instantly look for reasons to cry foul. And when it comes to Hyundai, well they haven’t really delivered too much in the way of “sporty” goods lately. Well, let’s see if that changes with a new Elantra sport.
When we last left the 2017 Hyundai Elantra, we predicted its increased refinement and competency would do wonders to help it become increasingly competitive against more established rivals from Honda and Toyota.
Well that has indeed been the case, so adding a Sport version into the mix, should only help the cause even more. Right?
And, hiring a BMW M engineering veteran to help put an all new multi-link suspension under the rear of this sedan is certainly a good way to start. The Elantra Sport’s new setup really makes it feel well-balanced and nimble; yet there’s no harshness to it, as overall ride quality remains quite good.
Front and rear spring rates are increased, thicker stabilizer bars are in place, and standard wheels are 18s. The total result is nicely solid grip through the cones. It stayed surprisingly flat as well, with enough steering feel to bring a smile or two to our faces. So, yea!
Hyundai’s 1.6-liter I4 turbo deals out the power; with horsepower at 201; torque, at 195 lb-ft. And there’s even a 6-speed manual transmission standard. A 7-speed DCT is available.
With the manual, we launched the Sport to 60 in 7.0-seconds flat; two seconds quicker than our last Elantra sedan test. Engine noise is, however, fairly pronounced; making us wish the more pleasing notes coming from the exhaust were louder.
We love the manual tranny. Shifter throws might be a little long for some, but come on, this is not a high-dollar performance car; just enjoy the fact that you get to have some interaction with a car for a change.
The ¼-mile was almost two seconds quicker too, at 15.6-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour. Quite a difference; and combined with the handling attributes, we think Hyundai has done more than enough to earn the Sport moniker.
The exterior gets an upgrade as well, with a more aggressive body kit; featuring a new front fascia with a black grille and unique lighting, sill extensions down the sides, and dual chrome exhaust tips for the diffuser-style rear fascia.
Inside, there are sport seats with more bolstering and red stitching, as well as a new flat-bottom steering wheel. The logical layout is familiar Hyundai, and there even seems to be some shared switchgear with Kia.
But that’s not all that’s new on the Elantra home front however, as 2018 brings a new Elantra GT hatchback.
As before, this Elantra is based on the European Hyundai i30. So it’s actually quite different than the sedan; especially inside where you’ll find a whole new dash and control layout, one that we’re quite fond of.
"This Hyundai Elantra GT represents the brand’s latest thinking about small cars, and is clearly aimed at those that might want a small utility vehicle instead. You sit rather high and the boxy hatchback rear end means plenty of cargo versatility. I like the fact the tablet-style media interface uses not only a touchscreen but there’s plenty of knobs and switches to control it. So, it’s not only modern it’s smart."
That SUV-style cargo volume measures 24.9 cubic-ft. seats up, 55.1 with rear seat backs folded. The downside, rear seat leg room that isn’t as generous as the sedan.
Power for the Elantra GT comes from a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 161-horsepwer and 150 lb-ft. of torque, though a GT Sport model, with the 1.6-turbo is available as well.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.0-liter Elantra GT automatic are 24-City, 32-Highway, and 27-Combined. For the Elantra Sport manual, they’re 22-City, 30-Highway, and 25-Combined.
Still, that’s only an average Energy Impact Score with use of 13.2-barrels of oil annually with CO2 emissions of 5.9-tons.
Elantra Sport pricing starts very sensibly, at $22,485; $4,500 over the much less entertaining base SE model. Elantra GTs begin at $20,235.
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport may fall short of performance-only machines like the Focus ST or Impreza WRX, but it’s certainly a bigger step in that direction than they’ve previously made. So, it offers a quite rewarding driving experience without compromising daily family car livability. As for the 2018 Elantra GT; it offers a sporty alternative to small front-drive crossovers; making a great case for the compact hatchback.
So, as we see it, the latest Elantra, in all its forms, is indeed more competitive, and now more entertaining, than it’s ever been.
- Engine: 1.6 liter
- Horsepower: 201
- Torque: 195 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds @ 92 mph
- EPA: 22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.9 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined