About every three or so years, the yearning starts for a sportier looking car, some sleek coupe befitting my receding hair and growing flabbiness.
I pitch an initial budget somewhere between a mid-range Audi, Jag or two-year old BMW with low mileage, and commence the test drives. The A5, XE and 428is are all fun, but somewhat underwhelming, then the frugal little angel over my shoulder starts in on me.
"What? $70k for the privilege to drive around a badge and smugly field questions about... is that your car ?"
So the budget gets whittled down to something more pragmatic: low $30s, and – purely on looks – it's narrowed down to a Honda Civic RS or Mazda 3 SP25.
And then I spy the updated Elantra SR Turbo, a stylish little coupe-esque beauty, and my misconceptions about driving a Hyundai are out of the window. A 20-minute test drive of the seven-speed automatic and I am instantly sold. This is the sweet spot I've been looking for.
This is an enjoyable and overall pretty engaging car to drive. Enough torque to keep it interesting and fun, and the ride is well planted and does urge you on in the corners. I've had 10 months with the car now, and my confidence to push it harder has only grown. It's no fully fledged sports car, but so what. For an every day driver, 265Nm of torque is just plenty, and this car makes good effect of its power.
The slight turbo lag is little annoying from a cold start, but seems less of an issue in Sport mode. But once you're up and running, the SR Turbo is responsive and to my mind, as good a drive as the Jaguar XE.
The driving position is good, with comfortable and nicely adjustable leather seats. I like the interior, simple and monotone as it is, and the configuration is effective and useable.
The car's tech is okay, easily laid out, and apart from a slight issue with the Bluetooth (since resolved) has been easy to use.
Boot space has never been an issue, even with two kids and holiday luggage.
Performance wise, I'm getting closer to 9.5L/100km over a cycle, but I'm keeping it in Sports mode most of the time to maximise the responsiveness and feel of the car. Mechanically, I have not had a single issue in 10 months of ownership.
Overall I really like this car I still look forward to driving it every day, and am still totally enamoured with its styling. I don't think there's a better performing and looking car out there for the money.