Join Date: Mar 2001
Test Drive: 2007 Hyundai Elantra GL Sport (CanadianDriver.com)
Test Drive: 2007 Hyundai Elantra GL Sport (CanadianDriver.com)
You might expect the new Hyundai Elantra GL Sport to be, well, a little sportier than other Elantra models, but the 'Sport' label refers mostly to cosmetic enhancements rather than performance upgrades.
The Elantra GL Sport ($20,595) is positioned in the Elantra line-up just below the top-of-the-line Elantra GLS ($23,095) and just above the well-equipped GL 'Comfort Plus' model ($19,295). Over and above the latter's standard equipment, the GL Sport adds larger 205/55HR-16-inch all-season tires and lightweight 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, rear spoiler, aluminum footrest, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped gear shift knob, power sunroof, dual visor mirrors and trip computer.
But its powertrain and suspension are identical to other Elantras: it has the same 138-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder 16 valve DOHC engine with variable valve timing, fully independent suspension (front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link), and standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission (without a manual shift mode) found on base GL models - plus the upgraded four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) found on the GL Comfort Plus and GLS models.
Unfortunately though, the Sport model loses the side and curtain airbags that are included with the GL Comfort Plus package. Basically, GL Sport owners give up some crash safety protection for sportier looks and slightly better ride and handling - and pay $1,300 more for it.
This seems odd when you consider that some of its competitors (Civic, Mazda3, Sentra) include side and curtain airbags as standard equipment on their base models. My guess is that next year, those extra airbags will reappear as standard equipment in the Sport.
For now, Elantra buyers who want all those sporty features plus the extra side and curtain airbags will have to move up to the GLS ($23,095) which also adds a standard automatic transmission, leather seats, automatic climate control, and telescopic steering wheel - and deletes the rear spoiler and aluminum footrest.
Pricing and features
As reported elsewhere in CanadianDriver (see links at the end of this article), the Elantra has been completely redesigned for 2007 - its major upgrades are a larger cabin that's roomier than most of its competitors, a classier-looking interior with better quality dash and seat materials, improved over-the-road refinement and less cabin noise, better ride and handling, and a bigger trunk. But while last year's Elantra came as both a four-door sedan and four-door hatchback, the hatch is missing in action for 2007.
The best value in the 2007 Elantra line-up is probably the base model with the optional air conditioning package. Base Elantras ($15,595) include the 138-hp 2.0-litre engine and five-speed manual tranny, 15-inch tires and wheels, front disc/rear drum brakes without ABS, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, front power windows, and cloth seats. The optional A/C package ($1,200) adds air conditioning, auto-down driver's window, rear power windows and power door locks. An automatic transmission is an extra $1,100.
To the base Elantra GL, the GL Comfort model ($17,995) adds keyless entry and alarm, engine immobilizer, cruise control, manual driver's seat height adjuster, heated front seats, power heated mirrors, a couple of tweeters, deluxe centre console with armrest, rear seat armrest with cupholder and centre rear head restraint.
The GL Comfort Plus model ($19,295) adds rear disc brakes, anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution, side and curtain airbags, active front head restraints, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
As outlined above, the GL Sport model ($20,595) adds 16-inch all-season tires and alloy wheels, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power sunroof, trip computer, rear spoiler and aluminum foot rest, but deletes side and curtain airbags.
The GLS ($23,095) adds a standard four-speed automatic transmission, leather interior, power sunroof, trip computer, illuminated visor mirrors, telescopic steering wheel, windshield washer level warning light, and automatic climate control.
The Elantra's new interior is impressive for an 'economy car'. First of all, with a wider cabin and longer wheelbase there's more legroom in the front and rear, and headroom is generous too. The Elantra has the roomiest cabin in the compact vehicle class - so much so that the U.S. EPA rates it as a mid-size car.
The quality and appearance of the interior materials is above-average - although the soft cloth used for the seats is not to everyone's liking. I liked the two-tone dash treatment and metal-like trim on the dash, steering wheel and console; the attractive white and blue backlit instruments which include a tachometer and a transmission gear indicator next to the speedometer; the wide footwells and driver's aluminum dead pedal; and the comfortable seats with driver's manual height adjuster. Sport models have an attractive leather-wrapped steering wheel and partial leather on the shift knob - they look great, but I found the smooth leather on the steering wheel a bit slippery.
An indication of the extra attention paid to details is the covered storage bin on top of the dash.
When closed, the edges line up with the rest of the dashtop (unlike in some other cars), and the inside includes a soft rubberized material that prevent small items from sliding around. My experience is that these thoughtful touches often indicate a higher level of quality and assembly.
The standard AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo is much easier to use than last year's radio which had small buttons and a display that was difficult to read. As well, the 2007 Sport model has controls for Volume, Mode and Seek on the steering wheel spokes. Lower down on the centre stack, the three large dials for the heater/air conditioner are also easier to see and use than before.
Storage areas are numerous: in addition to the one on the dashtop, there is an open bin below the radio and a covered bin below the heater. At the bottom of the console is an open bin and two 12-volt power outlets.
The doors have large pockets with bottle holders and there is a bi-level bin/armrest between the front seats. There are two cupholders behind the shift lever, and two in the rear in the folding centre armrest.
For safety, Sport models have driver and front passenger airbags, five three-point seatbelts, five adjustable head restraints, rear child door locks, and tether anchors for child seats. But as I mentioned, side and curtain airbags are not available in the Sport. One noteworthy feature: the three rear head restraints lower almost flush with the top of the seatbacks so as not to restrict the driver's rear visibility.
Split folding 60/40 rear seatbacks are standard on all Elantras. They flop down after releasing a lever in the trunk, and the rear head restraints don't have to be removed first.
The Elantra's 402 litre (14.2 cu. ft.) trunk is the roomiest in its class, and is fully lined except for the trunklid itself. Here's a handy feature: the trunk can be opened remotely with a button on the keyfob.
The Elantra Sport model isn't any more powerful than other Elantras, but its 138-hp four-cylinder powerplant is good enough for daily city and highway driving needs. An independent test of its slightly heavier GLS stablemate by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) showed a 0-to-100 km/h time of 10.2 seconds, and an 80 to 120 km/h passing time of 7.1 seconds.
My Sport model was equipped with the optional four-speed automatic transmission which shifted smoothly without any fuss and was responsive to kickdown when acceleration was needed. I liked its new gated shift design which allows the driver to quickly shift from fourth to third by slapping the gear lever sideways.
I didn't have the opportunity to try the standard five-speed manual transmission, but CanadianDriver's Senior Editor Paul Williams reports that engine speed at highways speeds in top gear is higher resulting in more cabin noise; Assistant Editor Jil McIntosh reports that the manual shifter and clutch feel "rubbery".
The Elantra has a very comfortable, quiet ride on the highway, and with the automatic transmission, the engine revs at just 2,200 rpm at 100 km/h and 2,600 rpm at 120 km/h. Official fuel economy figures with the automatic transmission are slightly better than with the manual transmission: 8.3 L/100 km city; 6.0 L/100 km hwy vs 8.4 L/100 km city; 6.0 L/100 km hwy - but the Elantra is still thirstier than its Japanese competitors.
Though the 2007 Elantra is bigger inside than last year's model, its overall length is slightly shorter so it's actually more manoeuvrable. A tight 10.3 metre (33.8 ft.) turning diameter makes parking and reversing into tight spots very easy.
The electric variable-assist steering is very light at slow speeds and has a rather rubbery feel, but steering effort is minimal when parking. At higher speeds, it firms up without being too stiff or sensitive, and the car tracks well. The driver's visibility is very good, although the trunklid is a bit high for reversing.
With a fully independent suspension and Hankook Optima 205/55R-16 all-season tires, the Elantra absorbs bumps well, feels well controlled in the corners, and doesn't lean too much - but it's not a performance car and people expecting the Sport model to be sporty might be disappointed. It rained much of the time I had the Elantra, and I found the Hankook tires offered good grip on wet roads.
Elantra Sport models come with disc brakes on all four wheels, anti-lock, and electronic brake distribution to even out front/rear braking forces. Braking performance is about average in its class: independent AJAC braking tests show a 100 km/h-to-0 braking distance of 42.5 metres (139.4 ft.).
While it's not a performance sedan, the new Elantra GL Sport is a roomy, comfortable car with attractive if not innovative styling, a very nice interior, a roomy trunk, decent performance, reasonable fuel economy and a very good five-year basic warranty. My biggest concern is the unavailability of side and curtain airbags. Pricing Base price $20,595 Options $ 1,100 (4-speed automatic transmission $1,100) Freight $ 1,345 A/C tax $ 100 Price as tested $23,140
Pricing: 2007 Hyundai Elantra GL Sport
Base price: $20,595
Options: $1,100 (Automatic transmission)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $23,140 (Canadian Dollars)