Caraganza First Drive Review 2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport: Members of the Manual Gearbox Preservation Society rejoice



We can’t always get what we want. For example, I’d like to have a beer with lunch during the work, however HR would probably frown on that; I’d also like to have a big house in the country; a manor on 10 acres complete with a pasture for my horse named “His Royal Steed”. What I have is a small (albeit nice) house in the ‘burbs and a large dog named Lester, who does on occasion eat grass, which constantly needs mowing.

I’d also like to have an M2 or something with an AMG designation, or a Mustang with a Cobra badge in my driveway. I suppose I could have one of these but then I wouldn’t have enough money each month to pay my electric bill and my wife would hate me for having to use candles all the time.

Indeed, we can’t always get what we want, but we get what we need, to borrow a line from Mick Jagger, who ironically can certainly afford whatever it is he wants.

The reality is that while many of us would like to be tooling around in a sporty car, most of us can’t afford such a thing. Then there is the of course the elephant in the garage; the fact that cars of all kinds are slowly being replaced by SUVs.

Hyundai is bucking that trend, and as I learned recently, they haven’t forgotten sporty either.

The Elantra has been around for awhile now.  And Hyundai’s reputation has grown as sales of their products have.  The Elantra (as are most Hyundais) is known as a good decent, affordable car. Something you might buy as a first car. I wasn’t aware however that there is a ‘Sport’ version of the Elantra, much to my detriment it turns out.



Hyundai did some refreshing to the Elantra for 2019. Most of those changes came on the outside, and they are making more standard technology features available; oh, and there’s a new infotainment system.

The 2019 Elantra comes in six trim levels, with three engines and three transmissions shared among them. The base SE offers a pretty limited feature set, but moving up to the SEL, the Value Edition and finally the Limited nets many improvements. The Eco offers a more fuel-efficient engine with midlevel equipment, and the Sport comes with a strong turbocharged engine. Most importantly the base Sport model comes standard with a 6-six manual transmission.

There such a thing as the “Manual Gearbox Preservation Society” and those members should rejoice.

Seriously? Who does such a thing? An actual manual transmission. Of course, that makes the base model of the Elantra Sport out of reach for many drivers under the age of 50, who after all have never learned to drive such a thing. Seriously.  The media is rife with reports of people who try to steal a vehicle with a manual transmission and failing miserably.  Good for them.

And good for me as Hyundai sent me a Sport model for a recent week; and they left it equipped with the base 6-speed manual.

I could spend the rest of the day extolling the virtues of this mid-sized sedan.  The exterior is sleek with just right amount of curves and chrome accents and the interior with its sporty touches is no nonsense, utilitarian and roomy. On the road the 1.6-liter turbo with its 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque is more than enough power (the base engine on the non-sport models is a  1.6 liter naturally aspirated engine with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque).  and on the Sport model the firmer tuned rear suspension, and stickier tires mounted to 18-inch alloy wheels will help keep this Elantra firmly planted. The brakes are also bigger allowing for better stopping power when needed.

Maybe I was biased when I first saw that my Sport model was equipped with a manual transmission, which by the way has shifting points that are spot on (something that I can’t always say about manuals on cars priced much more), but I can say that this was easily one of the best cars I’ve had all year. Especially true when you see that that MSRP for the Elantra Sport is $23,665. That alone makes it a great value. Put a manual transmission by your side, and plenty of power under the hood, and you’ve got a car that will make even us old gearheads smile.

The 2019 Elantra Sport, especially with its update, is a very good mid-sized sedan.  And with its affordability, it proves that you can (sometimes) get what you want.

The 2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport
MSRP: $22,600
MSRP (as tested): $23,665
Engine:  1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, 201hp @ 6000 rpm, 195 ft-lb torque @ 1500 rpm
Transmission (as tested): 6-speed manual
Fuel Mileage (EPA):  22 city, 30 highway, 25 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 27 mpg
Base Curb Weight (lbs) 3064

Interior Dimensions
Front Head Room (in) 38.8
Second Leg Room (in) 35.7
Passenger Capacity 5
Front Hip Room (in) 53.4
Front Leg Room (in) 42.2
Second Shoulder Room (in) 55.3
Passenger Volume (ft³) 95.8
Second Head Room (in) 37.3
Front Shoulder Room (in) 56.2
Second Hip Room (in) 51.9

Exterior Dimensions
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 70.9
Wheelbase (in) 106.3
Track Width, Rear (in) 61.4
Height, Overall (in) 56.5
Length, Overall (in) 181.9
Min Ground Clearance (in) 5.5
Track Width, Front (in) 60.8
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume (ft³) 14.4

Basic Miles/km 60,000
Basic Years 5
Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited
Corrosion Years 7
Drivetrain Miles/km 100,000
Drivetrain Years 10
Roadside Assistance Miles/km Unlimited
Roadside Assistance Years 5

Greg Engle