2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Introduction
Back in 2011, Hyundai introduced a redesigned Elantra Sedan that set new design, comfort, and technology standards for the compact car class. Now, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra lineup gains a 2-door coupe variant and a 5-door hatchback model called the Elantra GT. The Elantra GT is based on a different platform than other Elantra models, sharing its design and underpinnings with the European Hyundai i30 model, and is detailed in a separate review.
Here, we’re focused on the new 2013 Elantra Coupe, which is basically the same car as the Elantra Sedan with two fewer doors, revised styling, and tweaks intended to make it more fun to drive. Aimed at young consumers, the new Elantra Coupe battles a handful of direct competitors, including the Honda Civic Coupe, Kia Forte Koup, and the Scion tC. Hyundai hopes that the Elantra Coupe’s larger interior, bigger trunk, more advanced technology, and sleek styling will convince Generation Y buyers to choose this vehicle over the segment sales leader from Honda.
Having spent a week driving the new Elantra Coupe, we’ve discovered that what appears to be unbeatable on paper isn’t quite a segment killer in the real world.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Models and Prices
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is sold in GS and SE trim levels with a choice between a manual and an automatic transmission. Prices start at $18,390 (including the $795 destination charge) for the Elantra Coupe GS with a manual transmission and top out at $25,230 for the Elantra Coupe SE with an automatic transmission and every single option.
My test car was the Elantra Coupe SE. This version of the car adds 17-inch aluminum wheels with black painted pockets, a sport-tuned suspension, leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and a power sunroof. A unique grille treatment, a rear spoiler, and side mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators also distinguish the SE model from the GS model.
To this, my test car added the Technology Package. This option, which costs $2,350, includes a voice-activated navigation system with a 7-inch color touchscreen display, real-time traffic and weather reports, a 360-watt premium audio system, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with an air ionization system, a passive keyless entry system with push-button ignition, a reversing camera system, and automatic headlights. In my opinion, this is a substantial amount of equipment in exchange for a very reasonable price, making the Technology Package a great value.
Additionally, my evaluation sample was equipped with carpeted floor mats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a Homelink universal transmitter. The total sticker price came to $24,425.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Design
- Unique, yet instantly identifiable, “Fluidic Sculpture” styling
Designed in California, the new 2013 Elantra Coupe shares its Fluidic Sculpture design theme with the Elantra Sedan, but little else. This is a good looking car, well balanced and proportional, with an appropriately aggressive countenance. Hyundai reports that the Elantra Coupe slips through the atmosphere with a commendably low coefficient of drag measuring 0.28 Cd.
Inside, the Elantra Coupe mirrors the Elantra Sedan in terms of design, materials, and layout. Buyers choose between a black and a gray interior, and the gray interior is equipped with black upper dashboard and door panel trim to reduce glare and provide a 2-tone effect. The upper dashboard is soft to the touch, but otherwise this car contains plenty of hard plastic, with few exceptions.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Comfort and Cargo
- Midsize coupe interior wrapped in compact coupe body
- Unique seats, with larger front bolsters than Elantra Sedan
- Standard heated front seats
Longer and wider than its chief competitor, the Honda Civic Coupe, the new 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is rated as a midsize car according to the EPA. In fact, with 95.4 cu.-ft. of interior volume and a 14.8 cu.-ft. trunk, the Elantra Coupe is bigger inside than all versions of the redesigned Honda Accord Coupe except for the LX-S model, which doesn’t have a standard sunroof.
Accordingly, the Elantra Coupe feels bigger inside than its direct competitors. The driver’s seat features manual height adjustment, and in combination with a tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a sliding center console armrest, it is easy to find a comfortable driving position. The front passenger’s seat sits high enough off of the floor to provide good thigh support – something that cannot be said for any Hyundai Sonata models – and is equipped with an easy-entry lever that folds the seatback while simultaneously sliding the seat forward for easier entry to the back seat.
Before I tell you about the back seat, it helps to know that I am six feet tall, weigh about 250 lbs., and have size 12 feet. In other words, I am not a small person. Yet, with the driver’s seat adjusted for my comfort, I was able to get into the back seat and slip behind the driver’s seat with a minimum of effort. Once seated, my legs did not contact the front seatback, and my feet, wrapped in hiking boots, fit under the front cushion. Believe me, I was just as stunned as you might be.
The Elantra Coupe is also equipped with a large trunk. Hyundai says it measures 14.8 cu.-ft., but it looks smaller than that to me. The company must be including the bins underneath the trunk floor in its measurement. People who require additional cargo space can fold down the 60/40-split rear seatbacks to carry long items.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Features and Controls
- No changes from Elantra Sedan
Donated by the Elantra Sedan, the stylish cabin within the Elantra Coupe is laid out in identical fashion. My SE test car’s Technology Package artfully transformed the center console stack by adding a 7-inch color touchscreen display with a navigation system and a dual-zone automatic climate control system. Both systems include large rotary knobs that look good and feel great when rotated. Unfortunately, most of the buttons surrounding system displays are rendered in silver, making their markings difficult to discern. At night, this is not the case, as the lettering and symbols glow a cool blue in the dark.
In a clear nod to the car’s intended buyer, the Elantra Coupe GS is equipped with a standard 172-watt audio system that includes 6 speakers, satellite radio, and iPod, USB, and auxiliary audio input connections. The optional Technology Package for the Elantra Coupe SE includes a 360-watt premium sound system equipped with Bluetooth streaming audio capability.
The navigation system and its related functions are easy to use and understand, with responsive touch-sensitive buttons, crisp graphics, and straightforward menus. An information display is nestled between the car’s gauges, operated using buttons on the steering wheel. The steering wheel also offers buttons for the cruise control, stereo, and telephone functions, and the remainder of the car’s controls are placed exactly where the driver expects to find them.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review
- No changes from Elantra Sedan
Every 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe is equipped with six airbags, 4-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with ventilated front discs and brake assist, and a Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system that ties the traction and stability control and electric steering systems together. As a result, the VSM can deliver counteracting steering force during hard cornering, rapid lane changes, or when driving on a split-traction surface. The Elantra Coupe SE’s optional Technology Package adds a reversing camera to the car.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Crash-Test Ratings:
As this review is written, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not performed crash tests on the new Elantra Coupe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls this car a “Top Safety Pick.”
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- Quicker electric steering
- Revised suspension tuning
- SE model has a sport-tuned suspension
As might be expected, the Elantra Coupe is equipped with the same 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine as the Elantra Sedan. It is rated to make 148 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 131 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,300 rpm. In California, the Pacific Northwest, and New England, this car is rated as a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV), and that means horsepower drops to 145 while torque measures 130 lb.-ft.
A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard for both the GS and SE versions of the Elantra Coupe, with a 6-speed automatic offered as an option. The automatic includes a separate shift gate providing manual control over gear changes. According to the EPA, the Elantra Coupe with a manual gearbox gets 28 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg in combined driving. Choose the automatic transmission, and fuel economy figures drop a single digit across the board.
At the end of last year, Hyundai faced lawsuits from vehicle owners who were unable to achieve EPA fuel economy estimates shown on window stickers when the cars were new. As a result, Hyundai offered to reimburse owners and revise gas mileage figures, a solution that cost the company more than $100 million by one estimate, in addition to a public relations black eye.
I share this background with you because I extracted 26.3 mpg from my Elantra Coupe SE test car, short of the city fuel economy estimate let alone the combined driving estimate of 31 mpg for the automatic transmission. I also made sure to drive with the Eco button engaged for at least half of the miles covered. It would appear that Hyundai’s mileage estimates continue to set unrealistic expectations.
What don’t set unrealistic expectations are the Elantra Coupe’s standard 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, its 5-year/60,000-mile limited vehicle warranty, and its 5-year roadside assistance program, which has no mileage limitation. This is a car that should last for a long time.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Driving Impressions
Aside from its disappointing fuel economy, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe comes up short in terms of driving dynamics. This simply isn’t an enjoyable car to drive, and I’m not just talking about when taking it down the road less traveled. Were this a softly tuned, moderately powerful, but stylish, roomy, and economical car, it could be forgiven for this, because most people are just looking for something reliable to drive to work, to stores, and on an occasional trip. But the Elantra Coupe is designed to be the fun version of a car that gets great gas mileage. It delivers on neither promise.
I lay much of blame on the sport-tuned MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear axle suspension installed in my Elantra Coupe SE test vehicle. The ride quality is frequently choppy, and the suspension occasionally struggles to control vertical and lateral body motions. This car needs an independent rear suspension, and Hyundai engineers need to tear down a Ford Focus and duplicate its suspension tuning.
After the discombobulated suspension, the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine proves adequate at best. Accelerate down a freeway on-ramp, and the engine sounds loud and labored while delivering uninspired motive force. The car isn’t slow, exactly, but neither does its engine zing toward redline with zeal. Tackling a mountain road requires use of the automatic transmission’s manual shift gate to maintain momentum. I suspect the manual transmission might alleviate some of these complaints, but cannot state as much for certain.
Hyundai installs quicker steering in the Elantra Coupe, and it is instantly noticeable in comparison to the Elantra Sedan, especially around town. Unfortunately, the electric steering offers little on-center feel and resists minor corrections when traveling down the freeway. Nevertheless, off-center the steering is fast and feels good in the driver’s hands. In combination with the Elantra Coupe SE’s sport suspension, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and its wider, lower-profile 215/45 tires, the car proves nimble on urban and suburban streets.
Dive around a corner, and the Elantra Coupe turns in fast and whips left or right with a flat attitude and little body roll. These characteristics add much needed entertainment value in the city and suburbs. The steering also feels more natural off center than it does on center, which means that when threading down a twisty road, the tiller feels responsive and well weighted. The car’s braking system delivers fade-free response, too, and is fairly easy to modulate in traffic.
Given that the Elantra Coupe’s steering, brakes, and cornering attitude hint at the potential for fun, it’s too bad that the tires give up their grip so early. With better rubber, the Elantra Coupe could at least deliver some giggles when heading downhill.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Final Thoughts
The Hyundai Elantra is a fundamentally capable compact car, and the new 2-door coupe version is not only the best-looking vehicle in its class, it’s also the most practical. Unfortunately, the mechanicals can’t deliver on much of the car’s promise to entertain its driver, and in the process of attempting to turn the Elantra Coupe into something fun to drive, a decent ride quality is a casualty.
On paper, the Elantra Coupe looks like it dominates a barely existent class of vehicle, and Hyundai makes it clear that the Honda Civic Coupe is the model the automaker targeted when developing the 2-door Elantra. Compared to the Honda, there's plenty to like here. However, my favorite among affordable compact coupes remains the Scion tC.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Road Test and Review: Pros and Cons
- Terrific styling
- Upscale interior appearance
- True 4-passenger seating and comfort
- Large trunk to carry luggage for 4 people
- High-value Technology Package
- “Top Safety Pick” rating
- Excellent warranty
- PZEV emissions in certain regions
- Observed fuel economy falls short of EPA estimates
- Discombobulated suspension tuning
- Vague on-center steering feel
- Lackluster powertrain
Hyundai supplied the vehicle for this review
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe SE photos by Christian Wardlaw
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