By Steve & Tamami Laser
The Elantra has been a major success story for Hyundai. More than five million have been sold in some 190 countries across the globe. In the states, Hyundai has chalked up more than 2.8 million Elantra sales since 1991. For 2018, the next generation Elantra GT hatchback makes its debut joining the sedan that was restyled last year.
Based on Hyundai Europe’s popular i30, the new Elantra GT features premium styling accented by a new spin on Hyundai’s cascading grille with chrome-plated dots. Designers say it was inspired by steel mills where “liquid iron flows down like a waterfall.” It makes a powerful statement on our Electric Blue GT test car flanked by full LED headlights and vertical LED Daytime Running Lights.
Join us in this video for a test drive of the Elantra GT as our editor navigates some of his favorite roads and talks about the driving experience of Hyundai’s redesigned compact hatchback. (video © CarNichiWa.com)
The new car’s exterior was designed in Hyundai Motor Europe’s Technical Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany. For U.S. models, Hyundai offers the GT and more powerful GT Sport. We decided to test the GT equipped with optional Style and Tech packages, resulting in a very sophisticated small car.
Under the hood is a responsive 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with Gasoline Direct Injection that puts out 161 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Shiftronic® feature that lets the driver shift manually when desired. It also has Drive Mode Select that offers Normal and Sport modes at the touch of a button. EPA fuel economy estimates are 24 mpg city, 32 highway and 27 combined.
During our week-long test drive, the GT’s powertrain provided smooth performance during our daily drives. We used the Sport mode while climbing the steep hills in our neighborhood for improved throttle and shift response. Those seeking more power can opt for the GT Sport’s turbo engine rated at 201 hp and 196 lb.-ft.
Our Walkaround video takes a closer look at Elantra GT’s features starting with the exterior, moving to the engine and cargo compartments, the rear seat and the driver’s seat. (video © CarNichiWa.com)
We really enjoyed the sporty ride and handling. Hyundai says the new GT was tested and tuned on the Nürburgring Nordschleife racecourse in Germany where engineers ran hundreds of laps. The extensive use of high-strength steel makes the body strong and 22 percent more rigid than the previous generation. It’s bonded with an amazing 367 feet of structural adhesives for added strength and to help save weight.
With the Style and Tech packages, the driver and front passenger are treated to leather-trimmed bucket seats that are heated and ventilated for four-season comfort. A power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar and a tilt-and-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel are also included.
The Tech Package also rewards the driver and passengers with a huge dual-pane panoramic sunroof that lets lots of light into the cabin. The front section tilts and slides for added ventilation while the rear is fixed in place.
While the Elantra GT is called compact, the interior is actually rated as a large car by the EPA. The rear seat offers plenty of room for passengers while the 60/40-split folding seatback offers the flexibility to carry long items inside the car, like skis or a surfboard, and still have space for one or two passengers.
With the rear seats up, there’s nearly 25 cubic feet of space. Fold them down and cargo room increases to 55.1 cubic feet. Hyundai says that tops the majority of competitors in this class. As we show in our walkaround video, Elantra GT handled our bulky shopping trip purchases from a membership store with ease while the rear seatbacks remained in the upright position.
Elantra GT puts the driver in command with a redesigned dash and instrument panel. Gauges and displays are easy to read while controls are well placed and easy to use. Our tester was fitted with dual automatic temperature control, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® and Hyundai Blue Link®, a proximity key with push-button start and an electronic parking brake with auto-hold.
Using buttons on the steering wheel, the driver can access vehicle information and also customize the operation of some features via the User Settings menu on the supervision 4.2-inch display.
A big, bright 8-inch touchscreen display is standard and includes high-tech features like Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™. We like the split-screen display shown above that offers media on the right and location on the left.
With the Tech Package, we also receive an embedded navigation system that’s really easy to use via the touchscreen or voice-command button on the steering wheel. It also includes an excellent Infinity® Premium Audio system with 7 speakers and a subwoofer plus Clari-fi™ Music Restoration Technology by Harman™ that helps to restore the sound quality of compressed audio tracks.
With a slight chance of rain during our test-drive week, we could easily monitor the current and five-day extended forecast by selecting “Data Services” from the menu and then “HD Radio Weather.” Our GT was also equipped with a Qi™ wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones. The Tech Package includes Hyundai’s advanced Blue Link® telematics system with Connected Care, Remote and Guidance packages plus three years of complimentary service.
Elantra GT is also filled with safety features. Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist and seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag are standard. The Style Package adds the convenience of Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert.
For 2018, Elantra GT MSRPs begin at $19,350 with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our tester, with the automatic, started out at $20,350, adding the Style and Tech packages, carpeted floor mats and destination for a bottom line of $27,460. GT Sport starts at $23,250 with the manual gearbox and $24,350 with the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, not including options or packages.
We really enjoyed our week in the new Elantra GT and give it a big “thumbs up.” If we were in the market for a sporty hatchback, we’d put the Hyundai Elantra GT at the top of our shopping list.
Elantra GT press fleet vehicle provided by Hyundai Motor America. Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All product information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice.
Story, photos and videos © 2017 CarNichiWa.com