So the lack of performance is the common ground here. BUT in regards to performance, there's always something that we can do to up that just enough to make it on par or even quicker than the Sport sedan.
Yes...lack of performance is the theme, and to your point, I've done a little bit of trolling on the Elantra turbo forum and it seems there are a few vendors that are starting to release some aftermarket performance parts for that car.
But yet we still get no hard performance data in these reviews. How much slower is the 0-60 and 1/4 mile time compared to the competitors? Might be negligible, but what bothers me is how they say the car feels slower. I started test driving cars a few months ago, and I've gotten a few under my belt.
1) Fiat 500x
(since I tend to be brand loyal and want more space than the Abarth) -- nice car, but lacking in performance and too expensive considering that lack of performance.
2) Subaru Impreza
(non STI/WRX) -- way too slow and boring, although very nice.
3) Mazda 3 Grand Touring hatch
-- Boring. It's advertised as being fun to drive, but it felt sterile to me.
4) Kia Forte5 SX
-- has pretty much exactly what I want, but too pricey without incentives, and would rather have the independent rear suspension rather than the torsion beam.
5) VW Golf GTI S
-- same as the Kia, with a bunch more performance. I find the styling a little plain, but lots of performance and the price isn't too bad if you get the manual.
6) Hyundai Elantra Sport
-- Cheapest car on the list yet has best performance and fun factor with the exception of the VW.
As I said in a different post, my tuned Fiesta ST was at least 1 second faster from 0-60 than my Abarth, but the Abarth has more character and is therefore more fun to drive. The Fiesta had one of the best manual gearboxes I've ever driven, and the Abarth's is crap, but I had to get an automatic transmission on the Abarth anyway since I was going to use it to teach my daughter to drive. So it should say something that I find the automatic Abarth more engaging than the Fiesta ST. So speed is less important than driving impressions.
The ST always felt out of sorts if it wasn't being driven hard. Here's what I like about the Abarth, Forte5 SX, Golf GTI S, and Elantra Sport -- they're Jeckyl and Hyde cars. All 4 of these cars will be compliant, solid daily drivers with decent gas mileage if driven sensibly (the Abarth is a little loud, exhaust wise, but I'm okay with that). But when you stab the throttle of all 4 of these cars, they behave very differently, and all 4 have an aggressive attitude to them. That's the component I'm looking for in my next car, and that's the piece that, according to those reviews, seems missing. But I never would take a journalists word for it, so when I test drive one of GT Sports, I'm going to be looking for that Jeckyl and Hyde character. If the car has it and isn't priced too far north of $23k, then I think I'll be okay. I can't wait to one of us gets to drive one so we can give our impressions.