THERE’S a strong chance that if you’ve ever considered buying a performance sedan, you wouldn’t have considered 48 a Hyundai Elantra. Across six generations spanning 25 years, there’s never been one worthy enough. Until now.
The Elantra SR Turbo’s sporting rhetoric begins with an engine transplant, in this case the familiar 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol four from the Veloster SR coupe. But this isn’t a parts-bin application. A new horizontal intercooler with shorter piping is said to reduce turbo lag and improve throttle response, but it’s the new HWIT mixed-flow turbocharger with electronic wastegate (instead of the Veloster’s twin-scroll Borg Warner unit with vacuum-controlled wastegate) that does the heavy lifting with response.
More consistent boost-pressure control means optimum boost earlier, and maintained without fluctuation. The result is a seriously chubby engine for a ‘warm sedan’, with an impressive mid-range making up for any lack of elasticity in the top end.
Terrific new six-speed manual shift, too – also set to feature in next year’s new-gen i30 SR and i30 N hatches – though possibly a little too gappy between second and third. If you want really snappy gearing, you’ll need an extra $2300 for the seven-speed dualclutch version (see our comparo, p.72), though the engine’s torque reserves keep the Elantra SR charging strongly.
And it doesn’t mind a good strafe. With brand-new multilink independent suspension hiding beneath its booted rear end, larger 305mm front discs (up from 280mm), quicker steering and months of specific Australian tuning on top of Nurburgring and Namyang dynamic development, the Elantra SR is bloody good fun.
Its steering lacks the decisiveness we’d like off-centre, but the SR carves impressively neat, quick and confident cornering lines. For once, here’s a car that is more than the sum of its parts. Even the 225/45R17 Hankook Ventus tyres do their bit because they rarely undermine its great balance or unexpected driver involvement.
What the manual misses out on is the DCT’s Drive Mode set-up, meaning just the one steering and throttle calibration.
A tad more steering weight and slightly sharper throttle response wouldn’t go astray, but you only notice those things after swapping out of the dual-clutch.
Either way, both share abilities beyond expectation, and a level of equipment and finish that is very persuasive for the price. Add in quality seats and a relatively polished ride and you have one of the dark horses of 2016. ring ess R
Steering should be more decisive off-centre; conservative core design Terrific chassis balance; polished ride; meaty performance; great value Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo 1591cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 150kW @ 6000rpm 265Nm @ 1500-4500rpm 6-speed manual Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale 1360kg 7.0sec (estimated) 7.7L/100km $28,990 Now
Elantra SR packs a few surprise-and-delight features, including nicely supple standard leather (optionally available in red for $495) with perforated centres and exposed red stitching. SR also boasts dual-zone climate, a sunroof, heated front pews, front and rear parking sensors, a 10-way electric driver’s seat with electric lumbar and a hugely convenient luggage net in its 458-litre boot.