For 2018, Hyundai has totally redesigned the compact Elantra GT hatchback, first introduced in 2013.
This year’s model is lower, wider, and longer with a more-aggressive stance and more interior volume. The new hatchback, available in two front-wheel-drive models, maintains its clean European styling and driving dynamics.
The base GT is efficient and smooth running, while the GT Sport is more powerful and more fun to drive.
Prices start at $17,850 for the base GT with a six-speed manual transmission, adding $1,000 for a six-speed automatic; and at $23,250 for the GT Sport with a six-speed manual transmission, adding $1,100 for a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Two inline four-cylinder engines are available – an efficient yet robust direct injection 162-horsepower 2.0-liter, or, in the Sport, a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo.
Tested and developed on the Nurburgring track in Germany, taking advantage of the stiff, strong new structure, the suspension has been tuned to feel taut yet comfortable, with minimal body roll and maximum wheel-impact absorption.
Both models have clean proportions, flowing character lines and a new cascading grille design (chrome highlights on gloss black, angled down, vertically stacked and horizontally staggered for a waterfall effect) and nearly double the advanced high-strength steel of the previous generation.
High-strength steel bonded with structural adhesive makes the GT stiffer, stronger, and lighter. The bare body (body-in-white) weighs 61 pounds less than before.
My Elantra GT was the base model 2.0-liter with a six-speed automatic and Drive Mode Select, in dazzling Ceramic White with Beige/Black interior.
Exterior colors include Symphony Air Silver, Summit Gray, Electric Blue Metallic, Scarlet Red Pearl, and Black Noir Pearl. Black and Beige/Black interiors are available depending on the exterior color chosen.
The 17-inch alloy wheels had five curvy “V”-shaped spokes, with silver-painted faces and dark-gray-painted pockets.
Highlights included a standard eight-inch display audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluethooth with voice recognition, nearly 25 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, standard vertical LED daytime running lights (set into gloss black air vents at the outer edge of the chiseled bumper), rearview camera, height-adjustable driver and passenger seats, Amazon Alexa Blue Link remote start, and Blue Link heated features.
The exterior had strong horizontal lines from the headlights wrapped around the corners to the taillights, and a visually wide rear end with a large hatch opening. With the seats folded down, the cargo area is nearly level with the bi-level floor at its highest setting. Maximum volume is achieved with the cargo floor lowered.
Hyundai Blue Link Skill allows the operator to remotely start, set a desired cabin temperature, remotely lock/unlock, remotely charge/stop charge, remotely activate horn and lights, and more using an Amazon Alexa device. The temperature can be pre-set before exiting the vehicle, and will begin to cool or warm the cabin the next time remote start is utilized.
While the Elantra GT compares to most compact hatchbacks in exterior dimensions, the interior benefits from clever ergonomics and packaging, with room for five passengers and much more. Hyundai carves out 96.5 cubic feet of passenger volume and 55.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the 60/40-split rear seat folded flat – more than most competitors.
The GT’s interior is stylish, diverging from the more-conservative Elantra sedan, yet maintaining the Hyundai user-friendly controls. The horizontal theme continued to the dash and door panels.
The contrast, in my GT, of the beige seats, mid door panels, armrests, mid dash, “A” and “B” pillars, and headliner with the black upper and lower door panels, handle surrounds, upper and lower dash, center stack and console, and floor/floor mats (carpeted mats, “Elantra” branded, $125) was striking and appealing. The seats appeared to float unsupported.
Front and rear outboard seats were nicely bolstered and upholstered, comfortable even on a long road trip. The middle rear seat was best suited for a very short person, or a child in a safety seat/booster. The squared roofline made it easy to get in and out.
The Hyundai next-generation AVN 5.0 infotainment system (with six speakers, USB port and auxiliary jack) debuts in the 2018 Elantra GT, with an upgraded processor, an eight-inch screen (floating above the dash, flanked by buttons and knobs) vs. the seven-inch screen of the previous generation.
AM/FM and SiriusXM channels are combined on one screen for easy use of presets. Virtual buttons are clear and easy to use, and function menus are intuitive. Navigation maps now have a bird’s eye view, and traffic flow and incident data are now available without a subscription using HD radio.
My Elantra GT had a Tech Package ($4,300), which included Navigation for the infotainment system. The package also brought full LED headlights and taillights; leather seating surfaces with cooled front seats; panoramic sunroof; electronic parking brake with auto hold; Infinity Premium audio with seven speakers, including subwoofer; Qi wireless charging pad (under the center stack); and auto-dimming rearview mirror with BlueLink, HomeLink (universal garage/gate opener), and compass; Blue Link Connected Services, Blue Link Remote Start (three years, complimentary), and Blue Link Multimedia/Map updates for three years.
Pressing a button activates electronic park brakes, and then the brake pads are electronically applied to the rear rotors. The auto-hold function automatically holds the brakes steady at a complete stop, to keep the vehicle from creeping forward or rolling backward if the driver lifts the foot from the brake pedal.
Blue Link Remote Start with Climate Control is so popular in the winter that Hyundai engineers have enhanced the feature to include control of the rear defroster and heated side mirrors, debuting with the 2018 Elantra GT.
New Blue Link for Amazon Alexa adds another level of convenience to remotely starting the GT. The driver asks an Alexa-enabled device (such as Amazon Echo or Dot) to start the car and set the temperature at the requested level. Voice commands require a Blue Link PIN, for security.
A Style Package ($1,800) added blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, side-mirror turn-signal indicators, proximity key with pushbutton start, dual automatic temperature control with auto defogger, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front seats.
Elantra GT is EPA rated at 24 mpg city/32 highway/27 combined. With lots of highway driving, I achieved an average of 26.5 mpg.
And with lots of versatile cargo space and comfortable seating (for four), good fuel economy and easy driving dynamics, the Elantra GT is ready for winding roads, weekend trips with outdoor sports included, or everyday errands and people hauling.
Including $6,225 in options and the $885 destination charges, my GT delivered for $27,460.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.