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Has Hyundai made a Sleeper? Elantra Sport 1.6 Turbo tested! [+Video]

I find myself deep in self-doubt as I write this. And if it wasn’t for the last week, I’d probably not believe it myself. I wasn’t expecting much from the new Hyundai Elantra, and truth be told, I assumed it was just going to be another incarnation of something utterly uninspiring, a better clothed version of the first…

How wrong I was. The Elantra, now in its 6th generation, looks, feels and drives nothing like its predecessors. We reviewed the Elantra 2.0 recently, and this time around it was time to give the 1.6 Sport Turbo a shot.

First-off, let’s get the specs out of the way. The 1.6 Sport Turbo (ST) is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged T-GDI engine that puts out (wait for it) 200bhp and 265Nm of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Impressed yet?

That’s not all. There are 3 drive-modes to choose from; default is Normal, then there’s Eco and Sport too. Electronic Stability Control, 6-airbags, parking sensors with reverse camera, hill-start assist, blind-spot detection, active cruise control, dual-zone climate control, dual-tone leather seats, engine start/stop button, HID headlights with DRLs, a 7-inch TFT touch-screen with Android and Apple Car Play, and even a hands-free ‘smart-trunk’ system that opens the boot automatically if the car senses the key fob at the rear for more than 3-seconds. No kicking necessary…

But you know what, none of all that impressed me greatly, I mean let’s face it, apart from that funky-boot-release thingy, much of what’s stated above is the norm for cars in this segment these days. Nay, what really impressed me about this car, is the NVH and build-quality.

Taking the car on its own as a single-entity, and without comparing it to kindred-spirits within the same segment, the Elantra ST is a revelation. I cannot remember the last time I tested a Hyundai this good actually. In the NVH department, the engineers at Hyundai have done an amazing job keeping noise intrusion low, and apart from tyre noise, there’s nothing permeating that cabin.

Speaking of the cabin, the place where you’d spend most of your time anyway, it’s a far cry from the Hyundai’s of yore. As early as 10-years ago, there was still a ways to go before Hyundai’s could realistically compete with the Japanese in terms of build-quality, but I reckon that day has finally come; this car is put-together really well.

It just saunters along, quietly, smoothly and with no fuss, feeling like something from a higher class than the C-segment. Of course, the sauntering only lasts as long as the temptation to explore the T-GDI engine can be suppressed; which is not very long to be honest…

With 200bhp on tap – and I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just a 1.6 – engaging the Sport mode and planting the right pedal results in something quite amazing. The DCT drops a couple of cogs, the revs shoot skyward and the Elantra ST just… goes. You won’t believe how quick this car is when you give it the beans.

It’s especially impressive in the roll-on acceleration department, between 110kmh and 160kmh, which is seen to in mere seconds. And all the while I’m wondering if it really is a 1600cc, or had Hyundai secretly ported it out to 2.0. Hmm…?

Arriving at my fave stretch of deserted road riddled with fast corners and undulating curves, the third thing that impressed me about the Elantra ST was its handling prowess. Maybe it’s the 225/45 R17 wheels and tyres all-round that help, but I was quite blown-away by just how well the ST took on the twists and turns.

As I mentioned in the video below just before the photo gallery, I haven’t had that much fun on that particular road in a FWD since the Satria GTI, ages ago. It’s a worthy contender to the Ford Focus and Honda Civic for sure, but therein lies the biggest shortcoming of the Elantra ST; its price.

Coming in at RM131,488 OTR without insurance, the Elantra ST has unfortunately priced itself right out of the game, in fact it’s left the playing field altogether.

There’s no need for me to mention the obvious, that there’s a multitude of new cars out there in the C-segment that cost the same or less, and have a much stronger hold on market than an Elantra. Such a shame really, because the Elantra ST is a damn fine car.

Hope you like the video, it was a spur of the moment thing and I’ll remember to bring the holder next time, promise.  – Chris Wee.

(P.S. I’m pointing at the ‘Sport’ badge at the end, just realised it’s not in frame)


Hyundai Elantra 1.6 Sport Turbo Photo Gallery…