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hyundai elantra sport review power above all else

Hyundai Elantra Sport review: Power above all else

Here’s a car with a powerful proposition for a non-wallet murdering price. Are big horses all the Elantra Sport offers?

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

23 Mar 2018

Any car with an engine smaller than 2.0-litre that has the ability in turning over 200 horses and more truly deserves some serious attention, especially when it comes at a low-ish price. Designing such a small engine to deliver such high power must be as difficult as shooting an elephant from a blowpipe. Difficult, not impossible.

Peugeot managed to squeeze big power from a 1.6-liter engine back in 2010. And now, Hyundai has joined the club, making total membership of two; correct me if I am wrong. This goes to show how difficult it is to design an engine so small yet so highly strung without popping a vessel due to extreme stress.

So, here we have, under the hood of the Hyundai Elantra Sport, the 1.6-litre T-GDi turbocharged engine that bang on delivering all 201hp and 265Nm every time you excite the throttle. The ensuing acceleration feels fast, 7.7 seconds to be specific, although the first seconds is solely dedicated to charging up the turbo.

After that, it’s a white-knuckled rush all the way past the national speed limit. A seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox shoulders the responsibility of transferring speed from the pistons to the front wheels, and it does so without all the nuances experienced with other, older dual-clutchers. Perhaps many lessons have been learned to let the technology mature.

Shifts from one cog to another feel creamy. Paddle shifters exist on the steering wheel but there’s never the need to reach for them, simply because the ratios never let the revs drop, keeping the speed up so long as your foot remains on the throttle. It is undeniably impressive.

Straight-line shenanigans done, there’s always S-bends to sashay around. Here, the Elantra Sport doesn’t inspire. Hyundai’s handling has never sparked for me and the Elantra Sport is no different. In my hands, the steering feels muted in varying degrees – from nothing in parking lots to vaguely communicating at higher speeds.

McPherson fronts and multilink rears, paired with a sturdy frame sorts out what is to be a chassis with potential. The ride is European-firm and the body’s dynamics are managed to meet those standards. But does it all equate to the Elantra deserving the Sport moniker?

As such, Hyundai wants you to know that the Elantra with this turbocharged engine and with this transmission with this chassis set-up is sporty. They even go as far as to line the carpets with red, use red stitching whenever possible and dress up the seats in red with the word ‘SPORT’ emblazoned on both front seats. The Elantra doesn’t require any of these to convey the message that it is sporty. It's shaped with exterior embellishments of dual pipes, rear diffuser and lip are enough for one to think this Elantra is a bit more special.

Unlike the exterior, the interior is unfortunately old-fashioned, which leaves me wondering what happened between the time the designers penned the Elantra and the Ioniq – the hybrid car had a much better cabin. Even the Ioniq’s materials feel better. Throughout the test, I kept comparing the Elantra to the cheaper, more fuel-friendly Ioniq. That hybrid impressed immensely that I had raised expectations when it was time for me to drive the more expensive, more powerful Elantra.

Coming at a price of RM131,488, the Elantra Sport presents a powerful and smooth drivetrain for a small price. Too bad about the rest. 

Hyundai Elantra Sport



Gamma T-GDi, turbocharged


7-speed dual-clutch

Front-wheel drive









On-the-road without insurance

Overall Rating

6 Rating