Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
July 16, 2013
Can there be strength in numbers?
In the compact car class, no one can really agree on that. All agree that having a sedan is very important. From there it gets somewhat unclear. Some manufacturers stick with just a sedan; others go with either a hatchback or a coupe. Hyundai is one the few automakers who offers all three with their Elantra lineup. You have the Elantra sedan, coupe, and GT (hatchback). The GT is the company's latest attempt at compact hatchback and Hyundai says it provides versatility and 'European' driving dynamics. The question is the Elantra the added strength or the weak link in the Elantra family?
The Elantra GT is definitely the sportier and possibly sexier looking out of the Elantra lineup. Part of this comes from the GT being about nine inches shorter and riding on a shorter wheelbase than the Elantra sedan and coupe. The other part comes from European influences throughout the design. This is thanks to the kissing cousin of the Elantra GT, the i30. Both models share an upright front end with a hexagonal grille, sharp creases and sculpting along the side, and a sloping rear hatch.
Inside, the Elantra GT doesn't share the sexy looks as the exterior. Instead, Hyundai goes with a conservative look with black and silver dash pieces, curves, and blue backlighting. It’s a look that works, but I kept thinking it could use pizzazz. What doesn't need to change is build quality as my tester was top notch.
Space is a mixed bag for the Elantra GT. The back seat provides good legroom, but is a bit short on head room thanks the sloping roofline and a panoramic sunroof. The Elantra GT does claw back some points in terms of cargo space. With the back seats up, the Elantra GT gets 23 cubic feet of space. Fold the seats down and you get a massive 51 cubic feet of space, making it the best in class.
Hyundai still knows how to do the value argument very well and it shows on the Elantra GT. All models come equipped with air conditioning, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio system, heated front seats, keyless entry, and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system. This Elantra GT also came equipped with the Style package (seventeen-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, and panoramic sunroof) and Tech Package (navigation, dual-zone climate control, and push-button start). As tested price? $25,365. For that price, the Elantra GT makes many of its competitors red in the face.
You'll only find one engine in the Elantra GT and that would be a 1.8L GDI four-cylinder with 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic are your choices for the transmission. The 1.8L is a very spritely engine. Thanks to a curb weight of around 2959 lbs, the Elantra GT moves like no other. The same cannot be said for the six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai seemed put a big emphasis on fuel efficiency with this transmission and it shows with somewhat sluggish gear changes and a tall first gear. Those looking for a bit more excitement should look into the six-speed manual.
Fuel economy for the Elantra GT is rated at 27 City/37 Highway/30 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of around 28 MPG in mixed conditions.
Hyundai has been getting its share of complaints about how their sporty vehicles don't feel as sporty as they should. With the Elantra GT, Hyundai seems to be turning that around. If you order your Elantra GT with the Style Package, you get a sport-tuned suspension which makes it very enjoyable on your favorite road. However, Hyundai made sure the sport-tuned suspension didn't knock out fillings when its driven day to day. The suspension is able to cope with imperfections very well.
Steering is a bit of a mess. Standard on the Elantra GT is Hyundai's Flex Steer which varies the weight of the steering via three settings: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. In theory, the system should provide the right weighting for the occasion. In reality, it’s a much different story. The problem is that Comfort is way too light and Sport is verging on an exercise regime. I found myself leaving the system in Normal as it provided the best balance of the two. I think Hyundai is getting there, but taking a glance at that Mazda3's steering might help out.
The 2013 Elantra GT leaves a big mark on the compact car marketplace. Sleek styling, a nice ride balance between sport and comfort, loads of cargo, and list of features that embarrasses many rivals. The downsides are only a few; the Flex Steer steering system that presents more problems than solutions, a somewhat sluggish automatic, and tight headroom in the back.
Hyundai is a believer that strength does come in numbers in the compact class. The Elantra GT solidifies it.
Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Elantra GT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Year - 2013
Make – Hyundai
Model – Elantra GT
Trim – N/A
Engine – 1.8L DOHC D-CVVT Inline-Four
Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission
Horsepower @ RPM – 148 @ 6,500 RPM
Torque @ RPM – 131 @ 4,700 RPM
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/37/30
Curb Weight – 2,959 lbs
Location of Manufacture – Ulsan, Korea
Base Price - $19,395.00
As Tested Price - $25,365.00* (Includes $775.00 destination charge)
Style Package - $2,750.00
Tech Package - $2,350.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $95.00