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2017 HYUNDAI ELANTRA SPORT REVIEW

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When you think of sporty compact cars, Hyundai might not be the first automaker that comes to mind. Honda, Volkswagen, Mazda, and Ford have sport compacts that are well-regarded among enthusiasts for their blend of practicality and fun.

The 2017 Elantra Sport aims to put Hyundai in the sporty compact car conversation with a dose of turbocharged power and a totally overhauled suspension.

You can distinguish an Elantra Sport from a standard 2017 Elantra with its 18-inch alloy wheels shod in Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2 all-season high performance tires, lower side skirts, horizontal LED daytime running lights, dual exhaust tips, and a more aggressive front fascia. Under the hood of our tester is a 1.6-liter turbo-four with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque paired to a six-speed manual, but Hyundai/Kia’s quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is also available. The EPA rates the manual-equipped 2017 Elantra Sport at 22/30 mpg city/highway, but in our Real MPG testing the car yielded an impressive 28.2/36.9 mpg, making it one of the more fuel efficient sporty compacts available.

At the track, the 2017 Elantra Sport sprinted to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 90.7 mph. This makes it slightly quicker than the Honda Civic Sport hatchback we recently tested but slower than the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Jetta GLI and the previous generation Honda Civic Si, all of which hit 60 mph in under 7.0 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 15 seconds or less at well over 90 mph. Road test editor Chris Walton noted that the Elantra Sport’s grippy tires made it tricky to launch. He also said that adding too much throttle can easily overpower the front tires due to the car’s prodigious low-end torque.

Despite having larger front brakes, the Elantra Sport stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is 5 feet longer than the Civic hatchback but just a smidge longer than the prerefresh, current generation Mazda3 2.5, which took 117 feet. Even though its braking performance was consistent throughout multiple attempts, Walton found that there’s a lot of vibration and pulsing from the tires that caused bobbing. He suspects that the antilock braking system’s calibration wasn’t tweaked for the Elantra Sport’s tires.

The biggest change made to the Elantra Sport is the independent rear suspension in place of the standard car’s torsion beam to improve its handling. The Elantra Sport finished the figure-eight course in 26.7 seconds with an average of 0.65 g and produced a lateral acceleration of 0.86 g, putting it on par with the Mazda3 2.5 and Civic Sport hatchback. Testing director Kim Reynolds was impressed with the Hyundai’s handling dynamics and found that you can drift it slightly by lifting your foot off the throttle. Reynolds concluded that the Elantra Sport’s balance is its best attribute and said that no one attribute stands out ahead of the others.

Because the test numbers don’t tell the Elantra Sport’s entire story, we took it to the winding roads around Los Angeles where we found it to be a willing dance partner. Throw the car into a corner and there’s plenty of grip and minimal body roll, allowing you to confidently string corners and maintain your momentum. Understeer is present but you have to push the car hard to get any. The Elantra Sport’s brakes proved up to task and didn’t show much fade despite spending nearly an entire weekend attacking winding roads. Even with the stiffer suspension setup, the Elantra Sport rides well and does an excellent job of keeping road imperfections out of the passenger cabin. The Elantra Sport’s steering is a major improvement, offering great feedback so you know what the front wheels are doing. However, the system can sometimes add too much weight when you’re driving normally, making it feel artificially heavy.

Hyundai’s 1.6-liter turbo-four offers plenty of low- and mid-range torque, and it has a deep, raspy exhaust note complete with burbles and pops in this application. Like most modern small turbocharged engines similar to the one found in the Honda Civic, this mill pulls strongly with minimal turbo lag and has plenty of usable power. That being said, there’s not much oomph in the upper part of the rev range. The six manual has well-spaced gates, a smooth and precise shifter with reasonably short throws, and a clutch that’s light and easy to predict, making it effortless to drive the Elantra Sport hard on your favorite winding road.Much of the 2017 Elantra Sport’s interior is similar to the standard car with a few minor changes such as a flat bottom steering wheel, sport seats with more aggressive bolstering, carbon fiber-like trim and black leather upholstery with red contrast stitching. However, the lack of other colors makes the interior appear plain. There’s plenty of space for four passengers and a generous 14.4-cubic-foot trunk that’s expandable via the standard 60/40 split-folding rear seats, making the Elantra Sport a good choice to pitch as a practical fun car. Build quality is solid with a mix of soft-touch materials and padding in areas where your arms would fall, and hard plastics but in the lower areas of the dash, center console, and door panels. Cabin insulation is excellent with minimal road and wind noise; however, we do wish the car’s raspy exhaust note could be a little louder to emphasize its sporty character.

Hyundai’s infotainment system remains one of the easiest to use and has one of the best integrations of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available, with your smartphone completely taking over the head unit and multimedia duties. Available with a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen or a larger 8.0-inch unit with navigation when equipped with the Premium package, the system responds quickly and has shortcut buttons to other functions such as phone, audio, and interface settings. The optional Infinity premium audio system offers crisp, clear sound on all music genres and is one of the better units in the mainstream segment. Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and forward collision warning aren’t available in the 2017 Elantra Sport and are exclusive to the Limited trim for the sedan and the upcoming 2018 Elantra GT Sport hatchback. Blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert are part of the Premium package, and a rearview camera is standard.

Our tester checked in at $25,010, making the 2017 Elantra Sport a great value, especially considering how fun it is. Although its performance numbers aren’t up to par with the Golf GTI and Jetta GLI, the Elantra Sport is still a solid entry. It gives you a lot of car for the money and best of all, it’s a well-balanced car with a nice blend of power, agility, and comfort so you can easily drive it during the week and take it to an autocross over the weekend. Sure, a limited-slip differential and stronger brakes would be nice, but even without them the Elantra Sport is able to put its power down effectively and scrub off speed quickly when needed. Until the first vehicle from Hyundai’s N sub brand arrives, the Elantra Sport is the brand’s most entertaining car, raspy exhaust notes and all.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
BASE PRICE $22,485
PRICE AS TESTED $25,010
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 1.6L/201-hp/195-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,034 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 179.9 x 70.9 x 56.5 in
0-60 MPH 7.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.4 sec @ 90.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 120 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/30/25 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 153/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.78 lb/mile

© 2017, . All rights reserved.

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More than 3,000 tech employees are volunteering their skills to turn the tables politically

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There have always been outliers, people in tech who are willing to volunteer to help certain candidates. An even smaller percentage of techies quit their jobs to join campaigns. Still, it’s probably safe to say that most tech employees, who are also U.S. citizens, have long viewed the extent of their obligation as Americans to vote for their preferred candidate — then get back to work.

The surprising rise of Donald Trump has changed that stance in largely liberal Silicon Valley. In fact, more than 3,000 skilled tech workers have now signed on to help a nonprofit called Tech for Campaigns that injects tech talent into the campaigns of centrist and liberal candidates who need advice and tools to better make use of Facebook and Twitter, craft individualized emails for segmented voters and much more.

More people are signing up to help every day, too, particularly now that the low-flying organization is raising its profile a bit to further that momentum.

It has been writing explainers, for example, including this one in Quartz, on the importance of focusing on so-called down-ballot (non-presidential) state races. Tech for Campaigns also recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $250,000 to hire additional full-time employees who can help its three co-founders — entrepreneurs Jessica Alter, Pete Kazanjy and Ian Ferguson — run the organization. (It has 23 days remaining to reach its goal.)

We talked recently with Alter about that campaign, as well as to get a better understanding of the specific candidates Tech for Campaigns is aiming to help, and how. Our chat, following, has been edited for length.

TC: You’d previously started a founder dating company that was sold. How did you end up starting this nonprofit?

JA: Peter and I and our other co-founder, Ian, are all tech founders, and the election last year woke us up. After the inauguration, there was one alarming executive order after another. I like posting on social media, but saying, “I can’t take this anymore” wasn’t helping, and we were seeing the same from many people we know who wanted to do more but weren’t sure how.

TC: “60 Minutes” recently aired a segment with Trump’s digital head, who said Facebook employees embedded themselves with the campaign, trying to provide it expert help. He also said the Clinton campaign was offered some of the same help and declined it. Is your organization trying to get the job done for Democrats that they aren’t getting done themselves?

JA: We’re not saying that tech is coming in to save politics. But for every dollar spent on campaigns, only 5 to 10 percent goes to digital right now, which is a little crazy in 2017. Americans spend 5.6 hours a day online, yet 60 to 70 percent [of marketing dollars are] still going to TV and paper mail.

There are many under-exploited digital strategies [that campaigns could be using], like testing out messages, targeting people who wouldn’t necessarily watch TV but can be reached online and being able to show [return on investment] on that spend. So a lot of what we’re doing is educating campaign managers, many of whom come from field ops backgrounds. They build their careers by knocking on doors and making calls, which is important. But they don’t necessarily understand all the digital tools they could be using.

TC: You’re helping progressive and centrist campaigns play catch-up here. Who is signing up to help you with them?

JA: A lot of people. What started as a Google Doc in January with our friends became 700 sign-ups in a few days’ time. We now have more than 3,000 skilled digital volunteers who have day jobs but are willing and able to be deployed in small campaigns. By the end of next month, we’ll have completed 50 campaign projects; we’re hoping to tackle 500 by the end of 2018 midterm elections.

TC: Tell us about some of those projects, and how you settled on them.

JA: We’re doing a project in Virginia for a state legislator, for example, where we’re taking the list of [potential voters the campaign has] and helping them segment it in a much more detailed way so it can send different messages that have been designed for different lists. We’re also helping them understand the return [the return on investment] in that effort.

We also got very involved in a special election in Montana in May.

TC: Ugh. Where Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s seat in the House of Representatives, despite roughing up a reporter days earlier? What did your involvement entail? I remember he was up against a novice.

JA: We ran a Facebook program and a get-out-the-vote texting program for [that first-time candidate, Democrat Rob Quist]. Most of that state voted [via] absentee ballot, though, so most had cast their votes before that [scuffle with the reporter] happened.

TC: Looking back, is there anything different you would have done with that campaign or any other?

JA: There are things we wish we could have tried, but given the time we were working with — remember, this was a special election to fill a seat vacated by someone who’d joined Trump’s cabinet — we were proud of what we accomplished. [Quist’s camp] wasn’t going to do a texting project and we pushed them to do that.

TC: What other types of projects can you spin up for candidates?

JA: There are basically four categories, including digital basics like creating websites; email and analytics, which means marketing, getting more out of voter lists and voter data; social and digital media, which includes running paid digital programs; and engineering and data science-type projects.

One thing we’ve done for 2017 is focus on Virginia, which is one of two states that has a midterm election in less than 30 days. The governor is being elected and [the outcome will be seen as test of Trump’s popularity]. In fact, all 100 members of Virginia’s House of Delegates will go before voters. Republicans hold a majority of the chamber now, and are only one seat away from having a super majority, [and we want to change that].”

TC: How sort of “customized” would you say your various efforts are?

JA: We’re building technology to be shared across campaigns, as well as best practice toolkits. Building the former is what most of our [resources] will go toward. We’re building tech that we’ve seen missing — not reinventing email — then we’re allowing campaigns and state parties that are usually priced out to access it.

TC: How do you prioritize projects or campaigns?

JA: We have a data team that’s scoring every district in every state in the country to understand winnability. Then we work with state caucuses, which sort of oversee the races at the party level. We can do data modeling that helps them understand redistricting, for example, while they meanwhile know a lot that we don’t. We might say, “We think it’s these 25 districts,” and they’ll add their own on-the-ground understanding, explaining that a district is difficult because of XYZ that doesn’t show up in the data.

TC: How long do you typically engage with a campaign? Potential volunteers might like to know.

JA: Everything is scoped into a project with campaigns, and projects are typically four- to eight- week-long commitments involving three to five people who opt in. Most have day jobs and are fitting this work into their nights and weekends.

TC: That’s significant.

JA: When we speak with volunteers, they say the same thing over and over, which is that this is allowing them to volunteer their time and skills in a way that’s more impactful, without having to quit a job and join the campaign trail.

© 2017, Paul Umoh. All rights reserved.

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Amazon patents a drone that delivers a charge to power up EVs on the go

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A recent Amazon patent could be an answer to range anxiety, albeit one that sounds a bit more sci-fi than practical solution at the moment: the newly granted patent (via Roadshow) describes a drone that could carry a battery charge for electric cars, and deliver them to any cars out on the road that need them while in route, providing enough juice to get to a proper charging station.

There’s a lot that seems crazy about this patent, however – including the fact that drones themselves require a lot of tricky power management to get even limited flight times with lightweight cargo on board. Keeping themselves charged and within range of vehicles in need of a top-up might be the most challenging aspect of the idea overall, in fact.

It’s not the only hurdle in terms of making this thing real, either; the patent also describes a rooftop docking station that the drone can land on to stay connected with the vehicle and provide power on an ongoing basis while it continues along its route. That means either aftermarket modifications or buy-in from automakers will be required to make it happen, too.

At the moment, it’s not a super realistic concept, in other words. But it has potential, especially if we get to a future where EVs are commonplace, as are drone delivery services (something Amazon definitely is interested in making happen).

© 2017, Paul Umoh. All rights reserved.

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Magic Leap confirms $502 million Series D round

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Mixed reality slash augmented reality startup Magic Leap announced today that it raised a $502 million Series D round led by Temasek with participation from EDBI, Grupo Globo, Janus Henderson, Alibaba Group, Fidelity Management and others. Just last week, a Delaware filing confirmed that Magic Leap authorized up to $1 billion in new shares.

“We’re excited to welcome Temasek and the other new investors in this round to the Magic Leap family,” Magic Leap founder and president Rony Abovitz said in a release. “We also greatly appreciate the strong support and partnership from our existing shareholders.”

It’s still not totally clear what Magic Leap is doing, but it sure has raised a ton of money (more than $1.9 billion) in order to do whatever it is that it’s doing. To date, we’ve been able to gather that the company may be launching a device called “Magic Leap One.” And last month, Bloomberg suggested Magic Leap may be gearing up to ship that device to a “small group of users” in the next six months or so.

You can listen to the Equity podcast crew talk about Magic Leap’s ambitions on their show last week.

© 2017, Paul Umoh. All rights reserved.

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