Hyundai is trying to give the popular Honda Civic Coupe a run for its money and it looks like they are succeeding. Hyundai updates their compact Elantra Coupe for 2014 and it gets more power, a sportier suspension and more driver engagement than the outgoing model. More power is always good for driving enthusiasts, but it can be harder on the pocketbook at the gas pump which is the case with the new Elantra Coupe. But it could be worth the cost if it translates to better driving dynamics on the road.
This week we’ll find out as we test drive the 2014 Hyundai Elantra Coupe. Our tester comes equipped with the optional Technology Package ($4,200) which includes a sunroof, leather seats, navigation, rearview camera, premium sound, push button start and automatic projector headlights with LED accents.
The big news for 2014 is the addition of a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and sport-tuned suspension and steering. It’s been upgraded from the outgoing 1.8-liter four cylinder that was less than stellar on the fun-to-drive meter. This is where Hyundai may have trumped the Honda Civic Coupe. If Hyundai is going to succeed in beating Honda, the Civic Coupe is a good place to win.
Inside the Elantra Coupe
The Elantra Coupe feels big for a compact car. The driver and front passenger have plenty of room to get comfortable. But the sporty styling of the two-door coupe with the raked roofline significantly reduces headroom in the rear. But it’s noticeably bigger than the Civic Coupe and is especially roomy for a compact coupe.
The coupe’s front seats feature thick bolstering and the side bolsters provide excellent support during more spirited driving that the Elantra seems to invite. Although plastic is used on many surfaces, it is mostly attractive and well-executed. The optional Technology Package with leather seating, navigation and the premium audio system makes the Elantra Coupe a comfortable place to spend time. But it does bring the Coupe to $24,735 with destination. The Honda Civic Coupe EX-L is comparable at $24,830.
The Elantra Coupe comes with more cargo space than the average compact. With 14.8 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, it’s more like having a midsize car and is more than almost every other compact coupe. In the back, there’s ample room for an average size adult with enough legroom to be comfortable on short trips.
Elantra gets a new 2.0-liter engine
Like most compacts, Elantra comes with front-wheel drive. Hyundai addressed the less than sporty attitude of the outgoing model and for 2014, Elantra Coupe gets a bigger, more powerful 2.0-liter engine. The 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine develops 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. To compare with the 2014 Honda Civic Coupe, it comes with a smaller 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 143 horsepower.
Elantra puts that extra power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic. The outgoing model was powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque with a choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The extra power has a drawback in the fuel mileage numbers. EPA estimated fuel economy is 24/34 mpg city/highway. The outgoing 1.8-liter engine had significantly better EPA ratings of 28/39 mpg city/highway with the automatic.
On the road
We could tell immediately that the Elantra Coupe has more power at the drivers disposal. The 2014 version makes for a much more entertaining drive. Acceleration is quicker and the six-speed automatic provides impressively smooth gear changes. When we were traveling up I-70 at altitude, if the transmission settled on a higher gear than we’d like, we just slid the Shiftronic over to manual mode to find the right gear and more power was there.
In the corners, the coupe felt stable and there was very little body roll. This is the result of the upgrades Hyundai made to the new stiffer sport-tuned suspension. The Elantra Coupe does have a firmer ride now, but it shouldn’t be a problem for driving enthusiasts. The only downside to the driving dynamics of the new coupe is the lack of steering wheel paddle shifters. This is the one area where the Honda Civic Coupe has an advantage.
The Hyundai Elantra is among the best in the compact class with a stylish exterior design, plenty of standard interior features and good fuel economy. The addition of a new 2.0-liter engine makes the Elantra Coupe even more desirable.
Thanks to its engaging driving dynamics, roomy interior and abundance of standard and optional features, the 2014 Hyundai Elantra is a top pick for a small coupe. The only downside to the new coupe’s engine is it’s not as frugal with fuel as before. But you have to sacrifice some efficiency for improved fun behind the wheel. Now the Elantra Coupe has better driving dynamics on the road thanks to its more energetic acceleration and sharper cornering ability.