Hyundai is shedding its bargain bin image quickly, but the quick progression means that some of its vehicles are starting to seem out-dated prematurely. The Elantra GT is one such example. It only comes in one trim level and that limits the degree to which you can equip it as a more (or less) premium vehicle according to your preference.
|Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 173 hp.
Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic.
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway; 28 mpg combined.
Pricing: Starts at $19,560 rises to $26,360 when fully loaded.
That’s a shame because the GT is fun to drive, especially with the six-speed manual model. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine puts 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque down and that’s plenty for the car. Rowing your own gears is smooth and easy to get used to with a clear engagement point on the clutch, so this would be a good choice for someone learning to handle a manual.
Otherwise, getting an automatic transmission adds $1,000 to the price of the vehicle. After a week of driving the manual model I averaged 28 MPG, which is a bit behind rivals from Ford and Mazda but spot on with the officially advertised average.
Tipping the scales at 2,855 lbs, the Elantra GT is lighter than the Ford Focus and VW Golf, and less than 100 lbs. heavier than the base Mazda3 hatch. With a relatively light curb weight, the powertrain doesn’t feel taxed while accelerating to highway speeds. Unfortunately, wind and road noise are hard to ignore once you reach that clip.
The car is enjoyable on the road thanks to a slightly modified suspension setup compared to the standard Elantra sedan. Rather than skipping and twisting over bumps like other Hyundai compacts, the GT sticks to the road. Hyundai offers a sportier “Style Package” for $2,550 that tweaks the suspension and trades the standard 16-inch alloys for 17-inch versions.
There are three settings for steering stiffness that allow you to alter how the car feels to drive. Sport mode makes the wheel feel heavy and direct, while the comfort mode is light and loose. Normal sits between the two and feels the most natural.
At 23 cubic feet, the trunk is more spacious than the Mazda3 and Golf and just 0.3 cubic feet smaller than what Ford offers in the Focus. The rear seats fold down, expanding cargo space to 51 cubic feet of storage, just shy of the Golf’s total cargo of 52.7 cubic feet. Regardless of seat configuration, the Elantra GT has a ton of space for all your hauling duties.
Passenger space is extremely competitive; the Elantra GT features the most front-seat head room and is just behind the class leaders by fractions of an inch when it comes to front seat legroom and rear-seat head and legroom too.
The feel inside the cabin is acceptable, but not impressive. Although it isn’t exactly sexy, the interior is functional and a perfectly adequate compared to the competition. The door-mounted armrests could be more padded, but the seats are comfortable and supportive during long trips. Heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning and cruise control are all standard equipment in GT models.
Base versions don’t come with the seven-inch touch-screen navigation and back-up camera, in order to get those features you have to get both the previously mentioned Style package and the $3,250 Technology Package. The GT with the two packages is well equipped, with leather seating, a proximity key, dual-zone climate control and a moon roof.
Starting at $19,560, the base Elantra GT sits between the Ford Focus and Mazda3 in terms of pricing, but comes with features like heated seats as standard equipment. Fully loaded, the GT costs $26,360. As a car with excellent space, fuel economy and driving dynamics, the GT isn’t really the best at anything but it’s good at almost everything.