Torque steer? Well I never!

ROAD TEST/ Mark Smyth drove the Hyundai Elantra Sport as the com­pany fi­nally joins the per­for­mance party

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Hyundai and its sis­ter brand Kia have been renowned over the years for pro­vid­ing good, stylish cars that are well equipped and good value for money. They had iPod con­nec­tiv­ity long be­fore many of their ri­vals and of­fered ex­ten­sive war­ranties and main­te­nance plans that en­sured own­ers could bud­get for years.

What they were not great at was en­gine tech­nol­ogy and per­for­mance. They lagged be­hind ri­vals re­gard­ing diesels and only rel­a­tively re­cently adopted the age-old con­cept of the tur­bocharger. So imag­ine my sur­prise when I pulled out of a junc­tion wrestling with the steer­ing wheel as I ex­pe­ri­enced torque steer in the new Hyundai Elantra Sport. Torque steer, I tell you!

It is a good and a bad thing. It’s good as it shows that Hyundai has de­cided to add a bit of per­for­mance and driver in­volve­ment to its good, but runof-the-mill sedan.

It’s bad in that it still ex­ists and for all the en­gi­neer­ing might of the Korean car maker, they could not re­duce it.

But this is the Elantra Sport. It has a sporty body kit and 225/45 17-inch al­loy wheels.

It also has thick padded sports seats, in red. Hyundai is go­ing af­ter a new breed of cus­tomer, one it has ne­glected for years. But the com­pany is ne­glect­ing those with a pas­sion for per­for­mance no more, be­cause this is the start of things to come.

It re­cently re­vealed its first N-Per­for­mance model, the i30 N, which is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for SA if the price is right. But pric­ing is not Hyundai SA’s best fea­ture. Hyundai in Korea feels that it has reached the point where it can com­pete head-on with the Euro­pean manufacturers. It is a pol­icy that has elicited some crit­i­cism in Europe but the brand is strong.

In SA with its badge loy­alty and as­pi­ra­tional pur­chas­ing, Hyundai does well but still has to com­pete on value for money and pric­ing. Pay­ing nearly 400 grand for an Elantra, even one that is in­volv­ing to drive and fea­tures 150kW and 265Nm, is there­fore a bit of an ask.

An i30 N will have to take on the mighty VW Golf GTi so you can imag­ine how hard Hyundai SA is hav­ing to try to ne­go­ti­ate with Korea on that one.

Not only does Elantra’s Sport mean tur­bocharg­ing, but also a dual clutch gear­box. In ur­ban traf­fic it is a smooth unit with noth­ing to whine about, but push it harder and it hes­i­tates oc­ca­sion­ally be­tween changes. Given that this is an Elantra, it’s prob­a­bly not a prob­lem for most.

That is the thing about the model. Hyundai is not ex­actly mak­ing a song and dance about the fact that it has a per­for­mance Elantra. I sus­pect you prob­a­bly did not even know. So I did not treat it as the mod­ern equiv­a­lent of the old VW Jetta VR6. I got an idea of what it can do but mostly loved sit­ting in those ex­tremely com­fort­able seats en­joy­ing the peace and quiet. And it is quiet.

My ex­pe­ri­ence of the lat­est­gen­er­a­tion Elantra is that Hyundai has gone way be­yond its ri­vals when it comes to a peace­ful cabin. There is al­most no noise in­tru­sion from out­side traf­fic, the wind or any­thing else. You could be in a top-end ex­ec­u­tive ma­chine. The only real noise com­ing into the cabin is that of the low-pro­file tyres.

That quiet cabin is even more im­pres­sive be­cause while we had it on test, the rub­ber seal be­side one of the rear pas­sen­ger seats came un­done.

It was an un­usual flaw for Hyundai mod­els in our ex­pe­ri­ence, but a flaw nonethe­less.

The rest of the in­te­rior is spa­cious, com­fort­able and up there with ri­vals. The lat­est touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is easy to use and has clear icons, which en­sures you are less dis­tracted than some.

The mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel is well laid out and adds to an over­all in­te­rior qual­ity that is rather good. Type: Tur­bocharged petrol Ca­pac­ity: 1,591cc Power: 150kW at 6,000r/min Torque: 265Nm at 1,500-4,500r/min Type: Seven-speed dual-clutch Type: Front-wheel drive Top Speed: 250km/h (limited) Fuel Con­sump­tion: 7.9l/100km Emis­sion: 185g/km

The sus­pen­sion is a lit­tle harder but this is a sportier ver­sion of the range so of course we ex­pected that.

If the Elantra Sport is a sign of what the com­pany is re­ally work­ing on when it comes to per­for­mance ve­hi­cles then it’s a good start. Hyundai might be a lit­tle late to the party, but at least it has ar­rived.


Leather sports seats, mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel, cruise con­trol, touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, cli­mate con­trol, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, USB ports, mul­ti­ple airbags, ABS with EBD, LED day­time run­ning lights


War­ranty: Five-year/150,000km (Sevenyear/200,000km on drive train) Ser­vice Plan: Five-year/90,000km Price: R399,900 Lease*: R8,496 per month

The exterior gets a few sporty touches.

Deep red sports seats, left, add to the sporty ap­peal. Be­low: Twin ex­hausts de­note that this is not the Elantra we have been used to.

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