The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 22, 2012

Hyundai coupe has same driving feel as four-door sedan

By Derek Price
CNHI News Service

— As much as I love the newest Hyundai Elantra sedan, I'm left with one question after driving the two-door coupe version.

Why does it exist?

For some background, you've got to understand what coupes are usually about. Going from four doors to two doesn't just look better, with sleeker lines and a carefree, kid-free design factor, but it also implies sportiness.

Two-door cars usually drive differently from their four-door cousins, with firmer, sportier suspensions and often more powerful engines.

That's what Honda does with its Accord and Civic coupes, and it's what Hyundai does so brilliantly with its Genesis Coupe — a car that drives so aggressively I dubbed it the "Ax Murderer" the last time I drove

one.

The two-door Elantra, though, only hits on the first half of the coupe equation.

It looks spectacular.

Even with four doors, this is a gorgeous, stunning car. Eliminating the back doors and elongating the front ones only makes it better, with a sleek roofline and classic proportions all wrapped in a modern, flowing style.

Get inside the car, though, and you're hard pressed to find any differences whatsoever between the Elantra coupe and the Elantra sedan.

The instruments are all the same — nice and classy, but identical.

And, most noticeably, the driving feel is exactly the same. It's got the same engine and the same comfortable, quiet, squishy driving feel of the four-door Elantra.

Granted, one of my favorite things about the sedan Elantra is the softness of its suspension. Too many small cars try to mimic BMW by filling their shock absorbers with concrete, so it's terrific to find a compact car with a truly supple ride.

But in the coupe? It just feels wrong. I can't help but wishing the coupe had an edgier feel from the driver's seat, more like the dramatic difference you find between the elegant, polite Genesis Sedan and the lethal, angry Genesis Coupe.

Most coupes are a trade-off, letting you lose two doors in favor of more fun from behind the wheel. In this one, you just lose two doors,

making me wonder why it even exists in the first place.

Does it make sense, though? For some drivers, absolutely.

If you're looking for a sexy body paired with a quiet, comfy ride, this is a great choice. Heck, it's pretty much the only choice. It's

more comfortable on the highway than a lot of bigger, four-door cars can be, but it has the curvy look of a sports coupe.

Another interesting note is that the coupe's back seat is actually roomier than the sedan's. Head room is exactly the same, but leg and hip room are, surprisingly, a fraction of an inch more spacious. The only downside is not having a rear door to make entry and exit easier.

Aside from its quality feel and value pricing — starting at $17,445 — one of the Elantra Coupe's biggest selling points is its gas mileage.

It's rated for 40 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission or 39 with an automatic.

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Derek Price is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at carcolumn@gmail.com.