South Korean Sport: The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport.
About a year ago, I had a major revelation while driving the all-new 2016 Hyundai Elantra Limited.  Namely, that Hyundai had built a tight little sedan that could gobble up one of my favorite stretches of twisty road (CA 128 between Rutherford and Winters) without breaking a sweat, with its automatic transmission set in "Sport" mode.

Now, Hyundai sweetens the deal with the Elantra Sport.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport.
Same body, same chassis, same all-around goodness as the Elantra Limited.  But the Elantra Sport kicks it up more than a notch under the hood.  Gone is the naturally-aspirated, 147 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.  In its place---a turbocharged 1.6-liter four making 201 horsepower.

54 extra horses is going to make a noticeable difference in the performance of just about any car.  But in a sedan weighing only 3,042 pounds, it's major.  And, as an added bonus, the Hyundai press fleet folks sent our tester not with the seven-speed dual clutch automatic, but with a six-speed manual.  Good Lord, this car is fun to drive.

Interior view of 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport interior.
Hyundai could charge a lot more for this car, but they actually bring it in under the Limited.  The base price of $21,850 for the Elantra Sport with a manual transmission buys not only the impressive powertrain (backed by Hyundai's world-famous 10-year, 10,000 mile warranty) that boosts power and still delivers a solid EPA fuel economy estimate of 22 city/30 highway, but also electronic stability and traction control, ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, rearview camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, a Sport front grille, bumper fascia, side sill extensions, rear fascia with diffuser element and exhaust outlet, HID headlights with LED daytime running lights and taillights, a seven-inch touchscreen display, six-speaker audio system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, dual USB charging, Bluetooth, cruise control, leather seating surfaces and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, alloy sport pedals, illuminated vanity mirrors, a sliding armrest, a rear center armrest with integrated cupholders, a hands-free smart trunk and proximity key with pushbutton start.

Let me repeat:  All that for $21,850.

Our tester added only the Premium Package (bumping the touchscreen up to eight inches, adding nav, upgrading the audio system to an eight-speaker with subwoofer and center channel Infinity rig, Hyundai's Blue Link connected car system, a power sunroof, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and upgrading the HVAC to a dual-zone climate control system) for $2,400 and carpeted floor mats for $125.   With $835 inland freight and handling, the bottom line is a remarkable $25,010.

Think about that a minute:  $25,010 for that level of features, that kind of power and that sort of handling.  As the Phoenix bureau noted in its review of the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, sport sedans are on the endangered list.  I'd put the Hyundai Elantra Sport on the list of must-drives if you're looking to buck the crossover trend.