Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improvements Shine in '15 Hyundai

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improvements Shine in '15 Hyundai

Article excerpt

2015 Hyundai Elantra Sport: Surely we must be using the term "sport" loosely.

Price: $25,055 as tested ($22,600 for a base Sport, plus $1,200 for Tech Package, and a few hundred for floor mats, spoiler and bumper protector)

Conventional wisdom: likes the "generous features for the money; large trunk; quiet and well-built cabin; long warranty coverage" but not the "limited headroom; so-so acceleration with the 1.8-liter engine; somewhat stiff ride quality."

Marketer's pitch: "Best value from price to pump."

Reality: It's not a rocket, but the Sport finally does punch up the Elantra a bit.

First glance: I had the Hyundai Elantra during the same week I hosted a BMW 2 Series at the Sturgis Auto Proving Grounds. I thought the Elantra would be like a blind date in college; I'd never want to take it out. In the past I've found Elantras boring and Camry-like, with vague handling and unimpressive performance.

But my first ride in the Elantra Sport proved me wrong. It's no 228i, but it doesn't cost 38 grand, either.

What's new: The 2015 Elantra carries over the same design as the previous model, first brought to us in 2011. But tweaks have made the sedan better than previous years.

Up to speed: The Elantra Sport's 2.0-liter four-cylinder creates 173 horsepower, almost as much as a 1998 Pontiac Transport I had years back. So the little sedan gets itself up to speed in fairly short order.

This is an upgrade over the standard 1.8-liter engine. I found that engine in a 2013 GT hatchback model to be sluggish and not much fun, and the fuel economy in the 1.8 didn't make up for its fun-sapping ways.

On the road: Hyundai also has taken some of the wave out of the Elantra's suspension. The car maintains its composure on winding roads and tight corners, and the steering is light but offers a fair amount of feedback.

Shifty: The six-speed ShiftTronic automatic works well both in automatic and manual modes, although the gearshift feels a little more vague than I like. …

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