On the heels of the all-new Elantra sedan, Hyundai has redesigned the Elantra GT. The new 5-door hatchback inherits the refinements and tech launched in the sedan, but with the added benefit of more cargo space. Unlike the four-door Elantra, however, the GT wear’s the same 2018 corporate grille as the refreshed Sonata. Fans of the hot hatch will be pleased to know that the performance-oriented Elantra Sport model is also available in GT form. We love a hot hatch as much as any enthusiast, so we couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.
The same performance enhancements from the sedan are carried over to the hatchback. The torsion beam rear suspension is replaced with a multi-link setup, larger front brakes are fitted, and 1.6L turbocharged engine is good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft torque. A six-speed manual is standard, but the 7-speed DCT we tested in the Elantra Sport sedan is an optional upgrade. We were lucky enough to test a manual-equipped Elantra GT Sport this time. In attractive Scarlet Red Pearl with the standard 18” wheels and LED lighting, the Elantra GT is downright Euro looking. The GT Sport is more subtle than its sedan counterpart. The split rear exhaust and single Sport badge on the tailgate are the only hints at the added performance.
What kind of performance does the Elantra GT Sport offer? We set out on a day trip to the concrete jungle of New York City to find out. Our favorite route, the Taconic State Parkway, is the perfect playground to test the dynamics of any car. And the GT Sport does impress! The peppy engine loves being run high into the rev range. That’s easy when your right hand controls the gearing. Gear changes are on the long side, but we were more disappointed with the rubbery clutch pedal than the length of the throw. This hot hatch is noticeably non-pedestrian off the line, but we could also tell that it won’t run in the same pack as the venerable VW GTI and Ford Focus ST. We didn’t mind on the two-hour journey, however. The mid-range torque and reassuring chassis make driving quickly become second nature in this car.
Hyundai has fitted well-bolstered seats and a bulky flat-bottom wheel to this Sport model. The first impression these two changes make have a huge impact on your outlook of what’s to come. And both features come in handy as the road starts to change direction. As we found in the Elantra Sport, the unique suspension setup completely change the character of the car. It feels planted and composed, allowing you to drive more aggressively without consequence. And when you don’t need to pretend you’re on the Nurburgring, the Elantra GT settles down into a comfortable cruiser in 6th gear. The high roof and large greenhouse offer huge headroom, great visibility, and plenty of cargo space.
The firmer suspension is noticeable, but it doesn’t negatively impact the ride as a whole. In fact, the Elantra GT Sport was downright comfortable for our four-hour roundtrip drive. With interior quality far above the Focus ST and an infotainment system that puts the last VW GTI we tested to shame, this is one of the nicest $25k hot hatch interiors on the market. Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration are welcome enhancements to the bright central screen. Unlike the sedan, the screen sits atop the center stack. While this trend has led to a lot of “stick on” screens across the industry, Hyundai’s solution here feels more cohesive. With all the red accents in the cabin, it feels younger and fresher than the more traditional sedan.
The demeanor and practicality delivered by the Elantra GT Sport is something we always wished out of the Veloster Turbo. But where the Veloster’s weaker engine and poor driving characteristics left us disappointed, the 5-door Elantra succeeds. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a quirkier, and smaller, new Veloster. But in the near future, this is the best hatchback in Hyundai’s arsenal. With a genuine manual transmission, the Elantra GT is engaging and rewarding. We also think this new generation is stylish and reserved, something that can’t be said for a lot of new small-car design.
|2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport M/T
|Carpeted Floor Mats||$125|
|As Tested MSRP||$24,260|