Car Reviews

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo Review

Isaac Bober’s 2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review with pricing, specs, performance ride and handling, safety verdict and score.

In a nutshell: Elantra SR Turbo offers plenty of room and kit and a fun chassis into the bargain.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR

PRICE From $28,990+ORC WARRANTY 5 years/unlimited km ENGINE 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol POWER 150kW at 6000rpm TORQUE 265Nm from 1500-4500rpm TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic DRIVE front-wheel drive DIMENSIONS 4570 (L), 1800mm (W EXC MIRRORS), 1440mm (H) SPARE space saver KERB WEIGHT 1385kg SEATS 5 FUEL TANK 50 litres THIRST 7.7L/100km (claimed combined) FUEL petrol

THE ELANTRA SR TURBO arrived in Australia in late 2016 topping the tree of the sixth-generation Elantra range. When it was launched, the Elantra SR Turbo stood out from the rest of the Elantra range given it rode on a different platform; the same platform that would garner such huge praise when it debuted on the all-new i30 in 2017. And, just like other Hyundai models, the Elantra SR Turbo was tweaked by Hyundai Australia engineers…the tune would form the basis for the ride and handling set-up on the i30 SR which shares the same multi-link rear end.

What is the Elantra SR Turbo?

When the Elantra arrived, Australians were fast turning away from small sedans in favour of small SUVs, and that’s a shame because the Elantra SR Turbo is a properly fun little car. And while you could be cheeky and suggest it’s just an i30 SR sedan the interior isn’t identical to the i30 because it’s a slight design iteration behind. But that shouldn’t bother prospective buyers because there’s so much to like about this thing.

Read our review of the Hyundai i30 N…which has just launched in Australia.

Key differences over the garden-variety Elantra are a full bodykit, twin-spoke alloys and unique head and taillights. It also gets a leather interior with contrasting red stitching; the seats are the same as those in the i30 SR… and it also debuted the locally tuned multi-link rear end that would form the basis for the i30 SR’s suspension tune. And buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT; our test car was fitted with the DCT. The Elantra SR also offered a ‘higher level’ of safety features compared to other variants in the range and offered Apple and Android smartphone connectivity.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

While the Elantra SR was developed at Hyundai’s main Namyang R&D facility and then honed at its Nurburgring base, Hyundai Australia was still able to convince HQ that it should be allowed to tweak the Elantra SR for Australia. Let that settle. No other country in the world has its own tuning program, expected to just take what head office sends. Impressive, right.

According to Hyundai’s General Manager Product Engineering, Hee Loong Wong, “Apart from introducing its more versatile multi-link independent suspension, and new front brakes and steering, the new platform gave us a broad selection of new parts and components to work with. This was a successful and particularly satisfying tuning program, not least because Elantra SR is a sporty driver’s car, one that we enthusiasts appreciate”.

Hyundai’s Senior Product Planning Manager and chassis tuning team lead test driver Andrew Tuitahi, said, “The main goal was to deliver a car that was comfortable and fun to drive while giving the driver the ability to balance the car either through the steering or the pedals.

“A lot of the parts choices we made in terms of spring and stabiliser bar rates were designed around driver engagement and connection with the car.”

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

In all, 28 different front and rear dampers, three anti-roll bars and 10 different sets of springs were tested to determine the final package. In all, a staggering 50 different suspension combinations were evaluated.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

In terms of pricing, the Elantra SR sits slightly above the i30 SR but it’s only available in one trim level, so the only pricing difference is between the manual and DCT-equipped variants. List price is $28,990+ORC for the six-speed manual and $31,290+ORC for the seven-speed DCT variant. The Elantra SR lines up against the i30 SR Premium which lists from $33,950+ORC but it does get an updated dashboard design.

What’s the interior like?

Despite not carrying the same dashboard design as its more recently released sibling, the i30, the Elantra SR looks and feels good inside. The red accents lift the cabin which is conservative in its design and, when I say conservative, I mean conservative in the same way an Audi interior is conservative… There’s not as much soft-touch material as you get in the i30, but the quality of the plastics used inside the Elantra SR are good quality and feel good to the touch.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

As we’ve come to expect from Hyundai, the focus is on a cabin that’s practically designed with easy to read and reach buttons and dials; only the storage cubby at the base of the dashboard is a little awkward to reach into. This cubby holds the USB and 12V outlets; there’s no wireless phone charging available. The cup holders behind the gear shift are nice and deep and hold onto either a portable coffee cup or 500ml drink bottle snugly. There’s a decent storage box behind all of this with a lid that’s padded and is at the right height to be used as an elbow rest.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

The front seats are the same as those in the i30 SR, meaning they’re nice and long in the base for long-distance driving comfort and well bolstered to keep you in place through the corners. Unlike some sports seats, blokes won’t do themselves a mischief climbing in and out, if you know what I mean. Both front seats are heated while the driver’s seat offers 10-way adjustment; the passenger seat is manual adjustment only. The sunroof robs a bit of headroom but I’m six-foot tall and didn’t find it too close, unlike the Toyota Camry which is atrocious when you option the sunroof, but I digress.

There’s good vision right around the car from the front seat and there’s a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines to help when backing out of a driveway or parking. The rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring works very well; indeed, flicking the indicator and on pulling away from the gutter will see the system warn if a vehicle is in your blind spot.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

In the back and there’s plenty of foot, leg and knee room with decent headroom for taller passengers. The back seats are comfortable and there are ISOFIX mounts on the two outboard seats. There are directional rear air vents but no sockets for charging devices.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

The back doors open nice and wide and the opening is big despite the sloping roof line. The boot is easy to open and there’s enough spring in the hinge to help it ‘pop’ when opened. There’s 458L of boot space which is decent but the shape isn’t amazing, the opening is narrow and the space itself shallow and wide.

The back seats can be folded down to free up a little more storage space and in a nice touch can be folded down via two little levers at the base of the boot hinges.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

What’s it like on the road?

It’d been a long time since we tested the Elantra SR and it was my first time behind the wheel. I’m very familiar with the i30 SR and given they share the same platform was expecting good things from the Elantra SR. And it didn’t disappoint.

Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol making 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm. As mentioned before, our test car ran the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which is an in-house Hyundai jobbie. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.2L/100km for the DCT and 7.7L/100km and is further proof that manual transmissions are no longer more fuel efficient than an automatic. Moving on.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

Hyundai’s local engineering team did a lot of work on the suspension and steering and I’m not so sure the car received the credit it deserves when it was launched. Hyundai claims it sacrificed some ride comfort to achieve a more dynamic tune for the Elantra SR but I’m not so sure I agree.

After putting the Elantra SR to work across the Practical Motoring road loop and its variety of surfaces, speeds and corner types I’d suggest they achieved a perfect blend of comfort and dynamism. Even across rougher surfaces there’s a composure and noise insulation that no other car, besides the i30 SR, at this price point can match.

Throw the thing into a corner and there’s very little body roll, turn-in is sharp and both the grip and drive out of corners is impressive. It feels ever so slightly different to the i30 SR, although maybe that’s the surroundings rather than anything mechanical. That said, it isn’t as quiet across bumps and ruts as the i30 SR.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

The steering is nice and meaty off-centre and nice and solid on-centre for easy highway miles. In general driving the steering is well-weighted and set-up for easy manoeuvring in car parks and the like. Get a bit of speed up and the steering becomes communicative, which is something I wasn’t expecting and through the twists and turns the thing is nice and fluid.

The pedals are nice and progressive, although the brake is better than the throttle, which makes both creeping at low speed and washing off speed gradually nice and easy. There’s good throttle response once you’re up and running but stop-starts give a slight hesitation to the response. But this is more to do with the transmission than the throttle.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SR Turbo review

Being a dual-clutch transmission there’s a slight delay when starting off, much like you’d get if you were slipping the clutch and moving off in a manual while trying not to spin the wheels. I noticed this hesitation was worst when moving from a standing start on a hill; it felt as if the transmission had selected second and then realised as we idled into the intersection that it needed first instead…and then we were away but not before I gave myself and the car coming down the hill at a great rate of knots a slight scare. The Hyundai isn’t alone in behaving like this on this particular corner and some seven-speed DSGs I’ve tested have been worse as have some automatic transmissions.

There’s no mistaking just how effective a DCT can be when the speed is rising and the corners are coming thick and fast. Ignoring the paddle shifts, the Hyundai’s transmission is responsive to the throttle and brake and will either hold or drop back through the cogs depending on how you’re driving. It allows for the thing to be punted very quickly.

Coupled with excellent chassis balance, mid corner grip and a throttle adjustability I’d go so far as to say there’s no other front driving sedan in this price bracket that handles as well, or is as much fun to drive as the Elantra SR.

What about safety?

The Hyundai Elantra has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP rating (from 2016) and comes with standard safety features such as reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring with lane change assist. However, the Elantra Turbo SR is not available with automatic emergency braking or adaptive cruise control, both safety features are available on the newer i30 SR. Beyond this, it offers six airbags, traction and stability controls.

So, what do we think?

The Elantra SR Turbo is easily the most fun warmed-over sedan available at its price point. Tuned locally, the Elantra SR Turbo is dynamically fun to drive and next to the i30 SR, some of Hyundai Australia’s best ride and handling work. It’s roomy for a family of four and has all the creature comforts you could want. And its five-year unlimited kilometre warranty helps extend its appeal.

Hyundai Elantra SR

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety?
Practical Motoring Says: The Elantra SR Turbo is all on its own as a quick-ish, fun to drive sedan for less than $35k. There are competitors, like the Honda Civic RS, but that car lacks the dynamism of the Elantra, the back-seat room and you can’t get a manual transmission. You can for the Elantra SR. In all, this is a great fun car which just happens to be practical too.

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Richard White
Richard White
2 years ago

Nice looking machine ! If performance is as you say compareable to the new i30SR and it comes down to looks, size and interior comfort then it explains why my local Hyundai dealer does so well selling Elantra SR’s compared to i30 SR’s.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober