2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Review

Hyundai’s European hatch is obviously functional, surprisingly fun

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Review

Sharing the front subframe with its 4-door cousin, a chassis engineer explains the underlying reason why the Elantra GT is related to the sedan. A blast though the swerving, curving roads near Santa Ysabel outside San Diego and we’re convinced he’s either an idiot or a liar. And yet he’s neither, the GT riding on shared underpinnings, though delivering surprising levels of driving enjoyment.


1. Compared to the sedan, the Elantra GT is 9-inches shorter overall with a 2-inch shorter wheelbase.

2. Starting at $18,395 a $2,750 Style Package includes a panoramic roof, leather seats, a power driver’s seat, plus 17-inch wheels with 215/45/17 tires and stiffer rear spring rates.

3. Cargo room is rated at 23 cu-ft or 51 cu-ft with the rear seats folded flat.

4. One engine is available, a 1.8-liter with 148 hp and a 28/39 mpg rating.

4. The Elantra GT is the first Hyundai product to come with the Driver Selectable Steering Mode button with three levels of responsiveness: Comfort, Normal and Sport.

One of three new Hyundai products made available to the motoring press during the brand’s largest ever press drive, the Elantra GT stands out as a genuine surprise and a blast to drive, even when driving options included the 201 hp Veloster Turbo.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the Elantra GT is a 5-door hatchback designed for the European marketplace and looks it. The car is an admission by Hyundai that it is tossing away any old Toyota Matrix ambitions it had with the Elantra Touring. Instead, the GT is positioned as a competitor to cars like the Mazda3, VW Golf and Ford Focus.



Powered by the same 1.8-liter 4-cylinder found in the sedan, the Elantra GT makes an identical 148 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque. Available with the same choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, it comes as just one trim level with two choices of option packages. Targeted at a smaller segment of the marketplace than the sedan, the GT gets more standard equipment, and costs a few thousand above a base sedan as well. A unique quality of the one-trim selection is that you can have a fully-loaded model, with a stick-shift.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT engine

And that’s exactly what we drove, experiencing a level of enjoyment no front-drive Hyundai has ever before offered. Slap that boosted 1.6-liter from the Veloster Turbo under the hood and we’d have the first ever Hyundai-Speed GT.

With the current engine it’s still capable enough, and delivers a perfectly acceptable amount of around-town juice. Slicing up steep canyon roads, however, it’s hard not to notice the excessive ratio gap from 2nd to 3rd gear, meaning that even if you push the revs past the redline, once in 3rd, the engine drops outside its ideal powerband.

Making it a particular shame is the fact that the stick-shift is actually an excellent unit, with short and precise throws.



2013 Hyundai Elantra GT front

Provoking wild fits of driving shenanigans, understeer is far less than we’d expect for a non-performance vehicle while the intervention of the stability control is unintrusive, or at least extremely smooth in its application.

Measuring 9-inches shorter in length than the sedan with far less overhang, it also has a 2-inch shorter wheelbase making it impressively agile. Despite what Hyundai calls a V-Beam (a fancy version of yet another solid rear axle) even less-than-ideal road surfaces don’t unsettle it.

We did notice a good deal of bobbing and bouncing on the suspension, but the entire time the car’s wheels remained planted and in tune with the road. Helping in this department is the GT’s 2,745 lb curb weight, the lowest in its class and a solid 150 lbs less than even the Mazda3.

As mentioned, out test car was fully kitted out, including the $2,750 Style Package, which is about far more than just cosmetics. Along with the panoramic roof, leather seats and power driver’s chair, there are 17-inch wheels with 215/45/17 tires as well as higher rear spring rates, while all GT models get Sachs shocks.



2013 Hyundai Elantra GT driver slectable steering mode

Aiding in delivering all this fun is a surprising standard feature, Hyundai’s new Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM). With a button on the steering wheel, the driver can at any time switch between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes, tightening responsiveness of the steering, which we’re happy to report is not plagued by the numb on-center feel of recent Hyundai products.


Despite its sporty name, the GT is a hatchback and while the fun-to-drive factor may help sell it, functionality is what is required. And here, it delivers.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT cargo room

The smaller size compared to the sedan and compressed wheelbase immediately raises red flags. Thankfully, however, it does not have a European-sized back seat, and while overall legroom is down just over an inch, there’s still enough space for a six-footer.

Surely then cargo room must be compromised? Not so. There’s 23 cu-ft of space in the hatch, which expands to 51 cu-ft with the rear seats down.

As with all Hyundais, the Elantra GT takes a leadership position in the fuel economy department, though unlike the sedan it misses the 40 mpg mark. Regardless of the transmission, the GT gets 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. An Active Eco button on the automatic shifts early and keeps the car in a higher gear, resulting in a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy.

Comparing those numbers to rivals takes some hair-splitting as Hyundai will point out the GT’s best fuel economy rating for a standard engine – while both Ford and Mazda offer more efficient options but ones you’ll have to pay for. Then again, it’s not like the Elantra GT is a $15,000 compact hatch.



2013 Hyundai Elantra GT back up camera

With the style package and freight the tally hits just south of the $22,000 mark, plus you’ll have to add an extra $1,000 if you’re the automatic transmission type.

Consumers are now much more willing to spend big bucks on a compact car and Hyundai gives that choice, with an extra $2,350 Technology Package that adds navigation with a seven-inch screen, a rear view camera, automatic headlights and dual zone automatic climate control.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT cooled glovebox

Those looking at a 5-door hatch from a budget perspective might not get the same thrills or goodies, but base models do come well equipped with features including those heated front seats, a cooled glove box, Bluetooth, Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics system, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls as well as that Driver Selectable Steering Mode button.

As fun as the Elantra GT is, its every day functionality extends to driving comfort, although wind noise in the cabin is excessive. As for safety, the usual suite of government mandated technologies from stability control to ABS are here, while seven airbags come standard, including the first driver’s knee airbag fitted in a Hyundai product.


2013 Hyundai Elantra GT downtown

A seriously impressive blend of fun and functionality, the Elantra GT is a stand out for a vehicle nameplate that until recently couldn’t list driving enjoyment on its resume. Carrying on the sedan’s reputation for style and fuel economy, the value equation is slightly less obvious here. Priced several thousand above the 4-door, this hatchback does, however, come appropriately equipped for the dollar figure.

Everyone always wants more power and so that goes without saying, but if there’s one stand-out gripe with the Elantra GT it’s that in order to get the added handling features you have to pony up for the pricey cosmetics. Not everyone wants a panoramic roof, nor do they want to pay for it.

Functional and fuel efficient with the flowing lines we expected from a Hyundai hatch, the Elantra GT surprises with fun.

  • Genuinely fun to drive
  • Available features
  • Can get fully loaded model with a stick shift
  • Hatchback practicality
  • Wind noise
  • Dead power zone shifting from 2nd to 3rd
  • Handling improvements wrapped in pricey Style Package
  • No longer bargain priced

  • tony a.

    over $27,000 CND IN Vancouver Canada. Nice looking in and out but rather spend my money on a honda or toyota if it’s something comparable. 0r this vehicle: 2012 MAZDA3 SPORT GT,167-hp, 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine6-speed manual transmission  ,Starting at
    $24,845………and more fun !

  • Hang Man

    I’m surprised… I didn’t think Hyundai could make a fun car.

  • Rcprod

    Hi Tony, What’s the fuel economy on that Mazda 3?


  • Markbarbp

    Have had my preordered GT a week now.Paid $450 under MSRP. Am very happy! 33 mpg with the Auto tranny.Very practical,fun to drive!Looks good to!!!

  • jesuis2

    Don’t know why there should be the expectation of the GT being “bargained priced” – it’s the Euro i30 hatch and European models tend to be nicer (better interiors, etc.) than models geared for the US market.

  • Joshua

     $27k is the top model (leather, lcd…etc), the regular models starts around $20k and that already includes Freight fee…

  • Thomas

    I have had this car with style package for a month now and love it but I do have a down side. GT / grand tourer usually means high-performance automobile designed for long-distance driving. The seats in this car were way over looked and do not hold up to long-distance driving. After 30 minutes my wife starts complaining how the head rest is too far forward and an hour after that my back starts getting restless. I took a four hour drive the other day and had to of adjusted the seat 30 time to get anywhere remotely satisfied. My wife on the other hand had to resort to using a shirt as a neck pillow to resolve the headrest issue.

    I will be taking alot of 6-12 hour long drives up and down the east coast and am not looking forward to it because of this one down side. I don’t know who they use to test the comfortability of the cars but they should get more testers girls and guys before calling a car a GT.

  • ProPhotog01

    Have had this car for less than a week. It replaced an aging 2002 C230 Kompressor, which if you compare pictures,  look remarkably close to each other! (Especially the GT’s equipped with the optional Power Panoramic Sun Roof) The C230 was the first in this class to have one. And did I say…I loved my C230, but it was a pain/expensive to get fixed and the Sun Roof died on me and would have cost over 2500 to get fixed. Needless to say I did not get one on my GT.
    I have to say…I love the Hyundai GT!! Once it gets around just how much fun and good this car is from a driving stand point, it could soon be their best seller! I have the 15 inch wheels and standard set-up, but I have to say..this car handles on a dime!! When in Sport Mode, the The Hyundai GT feels more German than anything I have ever driven that wasn’t …German! I have driven several newer MB’s that didn’t feel this European. Some time was spent on getting the Driver Selectable Steering Mode set-up right! And they did!!! In Comfort or Normal Mode, the car feels distinctively “Asian”…. a bit on the “floaty side”. But in Sport Mode, its like in an instant you are driving a different vehicle altogether!. Road Grip and Feel are, not  to sound too sensational…Amazing! Its weird driving this car because you can’t see the front end of it, which is not bad…just weird. But I have to make one important point about another very good feature that compliments the great handling of this vehicle that no reviewers ever talk about utilizing….on Automatics….Shiftronic Mode Shifting! This is basically manual shifting on an Automatic Engine without a clutch. While race car drivers use similar set-ups, its almost never mentioned in any car reviews as to how it either enhances the driver’s experience or takes away from it. In this case, I can tell you as I wound up on one of the better mountain passes here in the state I live 2 nights ago, Shiftronic eliminates the need for clutching. I had a freaking ball going both up and down the winding roads well after the sun had set hours before. I pressed hard around the curves at one time forgetting how sharp one curve was and was surprised at how the GT hugged the road like Linus and his Blanket! Outside of a few small irritations, and one large one in that the Sound System, as good as it sounds is not intuitive at all, this is as good a small car with loads of room as you can buy! I hope that Hyundai has a Sound System Update that fixes the fact that once you plug your iPod up to the USB Port, you can not Navigate your Music from your Ipod!!!  Further more the Menu Control is far away from the Driver and you have to stretch to reach it, to use it to scan Genre’s or Artist. Its very cumbersome and well…a bit Dangerous. While the steering wheel has its compliment of buttons, it does not compliment using your iPod. In general, the user experience with overall navigation of Music could be a bit better and Intuitive. And to be honest, that is the single biggest thing I can say bad about the GT!  Unlike another post, I find the seats to be very comfortable and secure feeling. Not one of the better features on the C230. The more I am in the GT, the more I notice the attention to small details like the overhead map lights. Just Push the light and it clicks in and its…On! 3 AC outlets, 2 in the front and one in the back. Arm rests are nicely padded. I have the Manual AC, which works very well. The Rear Hatch is damped perfectly in that you can start to shut it and just let it go…it slows down and shuts tight. Sliding Center Armrest. Bottle Cradles on the Doors.
    I have been, according to the read-out ,averaging 28.7mpg combined Hwy/City with ECO Mode off and as you can tell a bit on the aggressive side. All in all, this car is a drivers car that can disguise itself as a day to day commuter with the touch of a button…and back!!!!

  • Oceanking66

    Hello, would like to know the GT you brought is a base model or the or the style package. You said you paid $450 under MSRP, so how much did you pay for OTO price? that means including TTL. Pls let me know ’cause i’m looking for one. Thank you!!

  • Markbarbp

    My silver GT came with the Style Package.The invoice price of the vehicle is only around $1,000.00 less than the M.S.R.P. window sticker.They can’t give them away for free,so I am satisfied with the Delray,Hyundai dealership in Florida.

  • Big Tex

    My husband traded in his 2010 Veracruz for this spiffy number last week. I have driven it twice for a total of less than two hours. Compared to the seats and the headrests in both the Veracruz and the Santa Fe hubby drove before the Veracruz (ya think he likes Hyundais?), the ones in the Elantra GT are worlds better.  I could never get comfortable either as passenger or driver in the other two models, for the same reasons Thomas mentioned earlier including headrests set too far forward, poor design and hard, uncomfortable upholstery.  I am looking forward to driving this Elantra more often in coming weeks, including for trips of longer than an hour, to audition the model as a possible new car for me as well once my beautiful 10-year-old Audi wagon starts costing more to maintain than it is worth. 

  • Doug

    It’s no longer the case that “in order to get the added handling features you have to pony up for the pricey cosmetics.” Hyundai now offers a package they call “Touch and Go” for just under a thousand bucks. This package includes the sport-tuned suspension along with the 17″ wheels and low-profile tires, plus the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (I think the latter is just on the stick shift), aluminum pedals, underfloor storage, auto-up on the driver’s power window, and — from the Tech package — the proximity-key entry with push-button start.The Touch and Go package can be difficult to find right now (late 2012). My dealer had to get mine from another dealer 50 miles away. But it’s what I wanted.

  • Sar_ras1

    Worst CAR ever

    I have to get it serviced at 3000 miles in NJ (check mail below), thou website says 7500 mile service. so much noise in cabin, only 5000 mile yet. Pick up is bad as expected 

    “Thank you for contacting Hyundai Motor America. Congratulations on the purchase of your new Elantra. We are happy to address your questions about your maintenance schedule. There are two maintenance schedules listed in your owners manual one for “Normal” and one for “Severe” usage. These are guidelines the service managers use to establish maintenance schedules for your area. Your service manager Ken Rodgers has determined for you Elantra in your area 3000 miles is an appropriate first service. If you have any questions about how he arrived at this decision we encourage you to speak with him directly. Your case number 5178343 can be referenced if we can provide further assistance. Thank you for contacting Hyundai Motor America. “

  • Lori Blatter

    ANYONE THAT HAS EXCESSIVE CABIN NOISE PLEASE READ. I just escalated my complaint on mine to Hyundai itself, past the dealer and went straight to the engineers who came and checked my car out themselves (three of them!) They found there was a faulty plastic piece in front of each mirror and because I escalated it , I have been informed a service bulletin is going out on my make and model elantra..so if you have excessive wind noise on your 2013 you may want to wait a couple weeks and call your dealer and see if this bulletin applies to you. I am spreading the word. I went through HECK to get this fixed but they did fit it and I am hoping to help others.. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my car and now that it is quiet it is AWESOME! Hope this helps….

  • Lori Blatter

    please see my post above on excessive wind noise.. I understand because of the inspection of my car (2013 ) there is a service bulletin going out concerning some of the plastic pieces being faulty allowing air to go inside door.!


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