By on June 22, 2012

This is the first installment of a three-part series on Hyundai’s three newest offerings, the Elantra Coupe, Elantra GT and Veloster Turbo.

As I casually sauntered over to the gunmetal Elantra GT, I my mind began to ponder Jack’s piece on the Lamborghini and the politics of masculinity, until a Hyundai PR rep stopped me in mid-daydream. “Oh, you guys are driving the Elantra Coupe this morning.”

How fitting. The compact coupe. The chick car par excellence. Favored by grade school administrators and recent divorcees, with a rich lineage dating back to the Mercury Cougar (the front-drive version), the third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Nissan 240SX (yes, it skewed predominantly female in the pre-drifting era).

The Elantra Coupe finishes third not because it’s a bad car, but because it’s just less desirable and less fun than the other two cars here.  While Mercedes made the coupe version of the S-Class (the CL) look extremely elegant and attractive, Hyundai’s coupe looks like a shortened Elantra – not a bad thing, since the Elantra is already a pretty attractive car.

Under the skin, it’s the same thing, too. Same chassis, same 148 horsepower 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, though there are a couple unique bits, such as a revised electric power steering system and a unique rear suspension setup with an integrated swaybar. Interior dimensions remain largely the same, save for a bit of a reduction in rear headroom.

Our drive route took place along mostly arterial roads, with a few twisties thrown in to help us get a taste of the Elantra Coupe’s capabilities. There’s a reason for the heavy bias towards normal driving; the Coupe ain’t sporty. There’s a fair amount of body roll, the steering is heavier but doesn’t really provide much feedback and whatever responsiveness that’s built into the engine is sacrificed at the altar of fuel efficiency – tall gearing helps it get that coveted 40 mpg highway rating. The clutch and shifter are nothing to write home about either. To its credit, the Elantra Coupe has a lot of well thought out elements, but none of them have to do with driving. Things like Bluetooth, and heated seats are standard. The center console is very intuitive, with Hyundai avoiding the “button explosion” issue that plagues cars like the Chevrolet Cruze. There are cup holders and storage compartments everywhere. And that’s all on the $17,745 GS trim level, which serves as the base model. At $23,095 fully loaded with Navigation and automatic transmission, the Elantra Coupe Technology Package has all the “premium” features one might ever want.

Hyundai is honest about the Elantra’s mission as a mainstream, rather than a performance car, but their positioning may need to be tweaked. Ostensibly aimed at Gen Y customers, the Elantra Coupe will likely fall into the same trap that snared the Scion xB and Honda Element (and apparently, the Veloster, which has its fair share of buyers that could be the parents of Generation Y customers). They will be snapped up by a more mature crowd, looking for a swoopy, youthful two-door that’s easy to get in and out of, won’t beat them up on the way to work and most of all but has neither the boy-racer stigma nor the inherent compromises of a real sporty 2-door. According to Hyundai, they are considering a performance-oriented version of this car. They said it wouldn’t happen with the Veloster, but a year later, they did introduce a turbo version. Right now though, think of this car as a Celica GT or a Saturn Ion Coupe for the second decade of the 21st century.

Gen Y on the other hand, doesn’t have such a favorable view of coupes. A 3-Series or a Mustang gets a pass, but for many of us, sedans can have their own prestige too. We may not have grown up riding in Dad’s “personal luxury coupe” – our contemporary, well-to-do father figure likely had some kind of 4-door Japanese sedan that coddled its passengers and let the driver have some fun as well. Look at the demise of the Monte Carlo and Impala-dominated lowrider movement and the birth of the “VIP car” scene if you need further proof. An Elantra sedan may very well be an acceptable vehicle to Gen Y’s sensibilities, since 4-doors don’t carry that kind of stigma. If anything, the two-doors might be viewed as a try-hard, perpetual-bachelor type of vehicle, if memories of the Ford Probe and third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse still linger.

The Elantra Coupe will be a very appealing product for an undeserved but prominent market segment, that still likes the idea of owning a 2-door car, but wants some comfort, convenience and efficiency. They may be underwhelmed with their Civic Coupe, looking to get rid of their aging Celica GT or hoping to downsize from their Altima. They won’t be in my cohort.

Hyundai provided flight, accomodations, meals and press vehicles. Thanks to Morgan Segal for augmenting my own crappy photos with his stock photography.

 

 

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50 Comments on “Hyundai Gen Why Intramural League, Third Place: 2012 Elantra Coupe...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Interesting that Hyundai even put in the effort given the tiny % that coupe sales are. The profile on this car is very Honda Civic coupe.

    Manufacturers, please put more effort into your manual trans shifters. The small percentage of us who actually buy them that way would appreciate it.

    • 0 avatar

      I just find it incredible how large Hyundai’s vehicle range is now. The only thing they don’t have is a large luxury -”Equus”quality SUV or a Nissan GTR competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      They may be expecting an uptrend. Two door compacts are easier to get in and out of than four door versions for those of us over 50, especially for the bigger and taller.

      The Chevy Cruze is a prime example. I’m very comfortable once I get behind the wheel, I just can’t get through the short door in any dignified fashion.

      A two door Cruze would work fine.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    Hate to come off as stuffy, but this article could use an explanatory statement. 3rd place in what? I read it twice trying to figure out exactly what you’re getting at.

    Are you ranking 3 Hyundai models against each other in a series with two more installments to come? That’s what I’m assuming, but I’m not sure I should need to be making assumptions. (Did I just miss something?)

    A “Now that I’ve had thechance to drive three different Hyundai models I’m going to rank them…” kind of statement.

  • avatar
    afflo

    Nice to see the coupe isn’t dead. I wouldn’t mind 4-doors if they could find a way to make the front doors longer. I like having a window and armrest next to me, not a pillar. Also, in most modern 4-doors, when you slide the front seat all the way back, the seatbelt anchor is too far forward unless you have it bolt-upright. You end up with the belt sorta hovering above your shoulder. It doesn’t feel safe to me.

  • avatar
    replica

    Coupes seen as cars for perpetual bachelors?

    Works for me.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    My kudos to Hyundai for having the sense and foresight to bring us a coupe, even it it does look like a Cobalt from the side. I love how the domestics give a finger to the small coupe community but Honda and Hyundai ‘get it’.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      Do domestic manufacturers need to “get it?” The base Mustang and Camaro likely outsell all of the small import coupes combined and they do it at the same price point.

      • 0 avatar
        indyb6

        @replica – You did say “Base Mustang and Camaro”. Correct? I looked at the websites of Chevy, Ford, Hyundai and Honda. These are the base prices for the models in question here:

        - 2013 Ford Mustang: $22.200
        - 2012 Chevy Camaro: $23,280
        - 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe: $17,445
        - 2012 Honda Civic Coupe: $15,755

        For the target demographic we are talking about here, that extra $6-7000 is a BIG DEAL.

        Again, these are just the bold numbers printed on front page of each model, and I’m pretty sure there are other sneaky fees and charges, but I doubt they bring the Base Elantra Coupe OR the Base Civic anywhere close to a Base Mustang or the Base Camaro.

        I don’t know what ticked you off. And yes, domestic manufacturers really do need to “GET IT”, if those are the models you are going to point to.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Most folks get their base V6′s around $18k. About where a similarly optioned model here, at $17.7k for this Hyundai. I assume a Civic LX coupe, or tC is in the ballpark.

      • 0 avatar
        indyb6

        With the destination charge, a vanilla v6 mustang was estimated to be around $23,000 by the ford’s build and price tool.

        Now, if that thing can be had for around $18,000… Mother. Of. God. I’ll be all over such a deal.

        But, honestly, I doubt that most folks can talk the dealer down by almost $5000, unless it is a 2010 model and been sitting on the lot for 2 years.

        Do you have data to back up your claim of the $18k figure? Not trying to flame you, but I’d be really interested in such a real life price comparison between different makes and models.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        The base model Civic Coupe is a miserable car. It doesn’t even come with air conditioning!

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Sure, though I don’t have a scanner for the sales paperwork on mine to scan in and post here. I’ve seen many new V6′s, base models, with no options, advertised for under $20k. They advertised mine at like $19xxx.

      • 0 avatar
        indyb6

        @replica – Well, in 6-7 years, when and if I’m out looking for a new car, I will keep this piece of information in the back of my head :)

        And yes, considering this, the domestics are “getting it”, apparently :)

        @Marko – I guess its one of those “When you see it” moments. But I still don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Those are dedicated pony cars, the Hyundai/Honda/whoever else are not, they are simply coupe versions of popular sedans, that’s what I am referring too.

      • 0 avatar
        indyb6

        @28 – Yes, you have a point there. It’d be interesting to see a Chevy Cruise Coupe

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Cobalt? How in the world does it look like a Cobalt? The Cobalt had a steeply rising beltline with a pretty vertical rear – it was much more wedge-shaped than the Elantra. Better said, it was wedge shaped, and the Elantra isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Now that you mention the Cobalt resemblance, it is clearly there. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I am honestly amused by how ridiculous and awkward this coupe looks.

  • avatar

    This piece got me thinking–which car really did launch the “compact coupe for people who care about style but not driving” segment? The segment was already old by the time those mentioned rolled around. And let’s not forget that the Cougar is a hatchback beloved by at least one TTAC editor.

    To qualify, does the coupe in question have to be FWD? Back in the 1970s some compacts (Vega, Monza) weren’t even offered with four doors. The Mustang II also leaps to mind. The Celica was originally RWD. As were the small coupes Mitsubishi made for Chrysler.

    If FWD is a requirement, then the first example might well be the 1983 Nissan Pulsar NX:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1983-nissan-pulsar-nx/

    GM had FWD J-Car coupes a year earlier, and VW offered a Jetta coupe starting in 1980, but I suspect these weren’t stylish enough to qualify.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The fist Mustang was just a Ford Falcon with a tighter back seat until Shelby started working on it. Unless there is an earlier answer(Corvair Monza?), that would be the one that made the market.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    > This piece got me thinking–which car really did launch the “compact coupe for people who care about style but not driving” segment?

    Though there were many that came before it, my vote is the 5th Gen Civic Coupe. Other manufacturers had economy coupes, and other manufactures had performance coupes, so it wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was incredibly beautiful for its time. I know a few Celica drivers from that time who wanted one for just for the simple good looks. When you look at the Elantra Coupe, you can see the well worn path that it is treading.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It’s easy to dislike this car as it offers all of the dynamic compromises of a 4 door Elantra – just only with two doors. However, if you don’t need 4 doors then you may as well get a coupe as it gives more room to the driver and passenger and better visibility by moving the B pillar further back.

    Derek – Hyundai claims that the upmarket spec has a “sportier” suspension. Did you notice any difference?

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      By “sportier” I really wish Hyundai meant “fully independent”, a la Jetta GLI. But sadly, all it likely means is a harsher-riding version of the existing torsion beam rear setup, which is already known for its harshness as well as its sideways hopscotching antics.

    • 0 avatar

      Not at all. I thought it was telling that the GT and Veloster Turbo drives were in the twisties but the Coupe was on main roads. Nice car, nothing really wrong with it, but not for me at all.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I prefer coupes for the looks, but I find that the B-pillar gets more in my way, not less, when I look back to see if it’s safe to merge left. The seatbelt is harder to reach, and the long door makes it harder to get out in tight parking lots.

      So it’s bad news all around, at least in my experience. I’d still do it, though.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The Elantra coupe is a bit of a snooze of a design; it’s not a good thing when the sedan version actually looks better/more sleek (primarily due to the roofline/greenhouse shape).

    There actually was a rendering of the coupe that looked not only a good but better, but looked more like the sedan (having a similar greenhouse treatment).

    The older Kia Koup still looks a good bit better and a new Forte/Koup are around the corner.

    With regard to the GT and the Veloster Turbo, the GT takes the cake for nicer interior while the VT takes it for driving enjoyment primarily due to the its boosted powerplant (the GT is supposed to get the same powerplant, at for Europe, so with the same powerplant, the GT is likely the best overall package; tho I would pick the upcoming new Kia Pro cee’d over either).

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      To my eye, the Coupe looks appreciably better than the sedan, especially in profile. The additional rake and length to the rear window and shorter roof work better with the lower body’s swoops, curves, and proportions.

      To me, the whole of the Elantra line looks a little too wide for its height and length in front, but it doesn’t seem to hamper sales much.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      The Kia Koup isn’t a bad-looking car, but the Forte in general screams “2004″ to me, even though it’s not really that old. With Peter Schreyer, I’m sure they can do better this time around.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The Forte was practically outdated when it launched.

        The new Forte is going to be much, much sleeker (think the new Kia cee’d but in sedan form).

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        The problem is that people whine and cry when designs are exciting by saying they’re “overdone”. IE: Elantra.

        Kia took the sheepish path on the Forte/Cerato and went very conservative on the design thinking it would be a win, which it wasn’t. It’s a good car, especially in 5 door and Koup packages. What did though was update after 2 years with a new transmission and other small upgrades by listening to owners and other feedback. Do you hear me GM, Ford and Chrysler?? They fixed problems that were brought up by consumers, and did it before a major refresh or redesign.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    I wish you’d talked a little more about the car and a little less about Hyundai’s marketing.

    This is an okay introductory overview to how Hyundai plans to market the coupe, but only included 1 or 2 sentences about how the car actually drove. Sure, there were a handful of words thrown toward specifications, but that’s just info copied from the window sticker, HyundaiUSA.com, or other previews over the past few months of intro info.

    It’s also not really a comparo if only one sentence in the whole article mentions the other two entrants in the comparison test (and that had to do with – surprise! – how they’re marketed).

    I understand you may not have liked this particular car, but maybe that’s part of the unenviable job of slogging through driving free press cars – actually writing about your experience even if you didn’t particularly take to the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      KB,

      Our driving time with this car was quite limited. The emphasis was clearly on the GT and the Veloster Turbo. I believe I mentioned in the story that we were limited to just driving around the main arterial roads. As far as I could tell, it drives just like an Elantra. As you’ll see in the upcoming pieces, there was significantly more time devoted to the other two cars, and I wonder if that was deliberate. They did that with the Azera too.

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        Despite the limited amount of time behind the wheel of the Elantra Coupe, were you able to form any impressions whatsoever of how it might compare (comfort, handling, NVH, overall value) to other FWD coupes that compete in the same general price range, such as the Scion TC, Kia Forte Koup, or the latest incarnation of the Honda Civic Coupe?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I never cared for trunk-ed versions of hatchbacks, outside of a few cases where the trunk adds structural rigidity (RWD Corolla, Fox Mustang) I’d rather have a hatch.

    The same goes for “coupe-ed” sedans, when a company designs a sedan and THEN a coupe it always looks weird, like this fat Hyundai and the recent fat Civic coupe.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    It looks exactly like the sedan, minus two doors. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. This doesn’t. The ’08-’10 Focus coupe had the same problem.

    It isn’t sportier, but it is less practical. What’s the point?

    • 0 avatar
      indyb6

      It is a tad heavier too. I think its all about being “cute” and/or “different” for those that care about that sort of a thing.

    • 0 avatar
      otaku

      I own an ’08 Focus SE Coupe and, having previously driven the sedan version, find that the two-door feels slightly more fun to drive.

      My best friend owns a 2009 Honda Civic coupe and it seems to trade quite a bit of comfort/passenger space and overall refinement (compared to the Civic four door sedan) for its slight increase in sportiness. Since my Focus coupe retained roughly the same dimensions as its sedan sibling, it feels like much less of a compromise. My coupe offers just about the same amount of front seat leg/head room in the cabin and the exact same size trunk.

      The only obvious difference is the reduced amount of passenger space in the back seat, but if, like me, you virtually never carry anyone back there, then you’re not really sacrificing much practicality.

  • avatar
    tayu

    A white 2001 Toyota Celica GT was the car that made me fall in love with cars.

    Just saying.

  • avatar
    tayu

    A white 2001 Toyota Celica GT was the car that made me fall in love with cars. Was 12.

    Just saying.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    When are part 2 and 3 coming?

  • avatar
    Strippo

    “The Elantra Coupe will be a very appealing product for an undeserved but prominent market segment”

    I’m thinking you meant “under-served,” not “undeserved.” Yet I agree with the typo version. My head hurts.


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