First Look: 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

Hot on the heels of another record year, Hyundai has decided to take a shot at a particularly fickle segment of the market -- the compact coupe -- even as others, including Chevrolet and Ford, are leaving it. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe on display at the 2012 Chicago auto show isn't the Korean automaker's first foray into these waters, but some say its previous effort, the Tiburon, is best left consigned to the history books.

Like the sedan, the Elantra Coupe is powered by a 1.8-liter I-4 that makes 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai is estimating the coupe will hit 40 mpg on the highway with the manual (39 with the automatic). City mpg also drops by one to 28 from 29 with the automatic.

Unsurprisingly, the Elantra Coupe shares the sedan's 106.3-inch wheelbase, though the two-door is 0.4 inch longer. Surprisingly, interior space remains virtually the same, with the Coupe having slightly less hip room due to its sportier front buckets. Even cargo room and read headroom remain the same -- 14.8 cubic feet and 37.1 inches, respectively.

Because coupes are meant to be more fun to drive than their sedan equivalents, Hyundai has made some mild updates to some of the suspension and chassis components, including the steering knuckle design, rear torsion beam rigidity, and damper settings. Suspension settings are further tweaked on SE models, which come with 17-inch wheels and lower-profile 215/45 tires instead of the 16-inch wheels and 205/55 tires offered on the base GS. The Elantra Coupe also receives three unique color choices -- Monaco White, Black Noir Pearl, and Volcanic Red.

Visually, the Elantra Coupe looks much like the sedan. Looking head-on, the only way to tell one apart from the other are the fog lamps -- the Coupe's are considerably bigger and extend closer to the center of the car. From the side, the elongated front door and small rear window conspire to make the Elantra Coupe seem smaller than it really is. It's from the rear (or at least the rear three-quarter) where the Elantra Coupe looks the best and sportiest -- thanks in no small part to the visible exhaust tips.

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Elantra Coupe will have on total Elantra sales, but a properly executed variant never hurt anybody. If this two-door gamble pays off -- given that the selection of compact coupes currently on the market consists of Honda's much-derided-though-not-that-bad Civic and Korean-sister-come-archrival Kia's Forte Koup, it doesn't seem that risky -- the Elantra, with additional help from the also-new GT hatchback variant, could take the sales crown in the compact segment.

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe
Vehicle Layout: Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door coupe
Engine: 1.8L/148-hp/131-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission: 6-sp manual, 6-sp auto
Curb Weight: 2700-2850 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length x Width x Height: 178.7 x 69.9 x 56.5 in
EPA City/Hwy Fuel Econ: 28-29/40 mpg
On Sale in U.S.: Summer 2013

The Elantra Coupe has lot of style for a reasonable price! At 178.7 in long it's just right in size. With a DI four cylinder, 6-speed (manual preferred), and fairly long wheelbase, this car should provide a good ride with some sporty handling. Hopefully the steering will be improved along with some 'sport' added to the suspension, giving us a sporty car that's both practical and exciting to drive. I'd prefer a hatchback, which would make it just about perfect. Heck if they're going to put in the fastback styling, why not get the best of both worlds with a hatch in the rear allowing the young (and old) buyer to carry those big items that just don't fit in a trunk. There are a lot of us out here who really like hatchbacks especially when they invoke great styling. At least someone at Hyundai is recognizing that there's a market for snazzy coupes (real 2-doors) because of they're inherently sharper, cleaner look.

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