Jest if you will, but the Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo offers a genuinely serious glimpse into the abilities of Korea to make a car handle
LET’S be honest. As a car company, Hyundai hasn’t really yet cracked the code for producing a device that can set the smile-o-meter binging off the charts. It reckons, though, the its new Elantra SR Turbo will change all that.
It scores a lightly made over version of the 1.6-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged engine from the Veloster Turbo, along with multi-link rear suspension that will be seen on the upcoming i30.
Its chassis tune has been overseen by Hyundai’s almost-resident spring-and-damper man and WRC suspension ace David Potter and senior product planning manager and lead test driver Andrew Tuitahi, with slightly firmer front springs and a one-millimetre increase in rear anti-roll bar thickness doing the business for the SR Turbo.
Worringly, it makes just 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from 1500 to 4500rpm, which is the same output as the Veloster Turbo, despite a new, larger intercooler, a bigger turbocharger and electric turbo wastegate.
There’s a choice of transmissions, too, with a six-speed manual costing $28,990 before on-roads, and a seven-speed dual-clutch ’box an additional $2300 ask. The dual-clutcher also nets the SR Turbo a three-way drive mode switch that sharpens the throttle and shift maps – and it’s this little addition that makes a surprisingly huge difference.
The seven-speeder is the combo that suits the SR Turbo down to the ground. It feels more settled and planted across the front axle than the manual, the small amount of extra weight working with the much more finely tuned set-up to help the SR turn in and hold a line with surprising enthusiasm.
The SR Turbo is certainly firmer in its ride than the Elite grade Elantra, but the fine tuning work has really paid off. It’s certainly more tied down, but the pliancy of the multilink rear end and the taller sidewalls of the 17-inch Hankooks take the top layer of brittleness out of the ride.
If this is a taste for what’s coming in Hyundai’s N line, the line starts here.
3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
LIKE: Frankly astonishing depths of chassis controls… in an Elantra?
DISLIKE: Lacks last bit of poke and tyre grip to truly make the most of the chassis
Engine: 1597cc turbo inline four petrol
Power: 150kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 265Nm @ 1500-4500rpm
Weight: 1300kg (aprox)/ 0-100km/h 7.0sec (est)
Price: $28,990 (man)