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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Overview
Just one year after Hyundai unveiled a full generational makeover of its popular Elantra compact sedan, the South Korean automaker is rolling out the second generation of its Elantra GT sport hatchback. But rather than basing the 2018 Elantra GT on the redesigned sedan, as most automakers would, Hyundai went in a different direction, essentially rebadging its popular Euro-flavored i30 hatchback. After updating the powerplant options and adding some features, Hyundai has turned the new GT loose on the streets of North America, giving U.S. fans of sporty European hatchbacks a reason to celebrate.
The 2018 Elantra GT hatchback differs from the Elantra sedan in a number of ways. It sits on a shorter wheelbase (104.3 inches for the GT versus 106.3 inches for the sedan), displays a distinctive grille, and has a sportier interior design. The new GT also improves on its first-generation predecessor, which was similarly based on the i30, with an upgraded body that's both stiffer and lighter, thanks in part to the use of high-strength steel. It weighs 61 pounds less than the first-generation GT, sits lower to the ground, and offers more interior space and a range of hot new available features like an 8-inch touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, and wireless smartphone charging.
The new Elantra GT displays an exterior design that's more fluid and shapely than that of the sedan, with its sharp angles and creased sidelines. The most noticeable differences occur up front, where the GT's rounded nose gets sportier projector headlights, revised lower air scoops, and a cascading grille design in place of the sedan's horizontal slats. Heated side mirrors, a rear roof spoiler, and 17-inch wheels are among the standard exterior features for the base Elantra GT trim, while the more upscale Sport adds LED headlights and taillights and larger 18-inch wheels.
While the European i30 comes equipped with a trio of fairly anemic powerplants, starting with a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 99 hp and topping out with a turbocharged version delivering 138 hp, the Elantra GT needed something better. Those engines would never fly with American drivers, so the new Elantra GT hatchback borrows its powerplants from the sedan, with a few adjustments to tuning and output. For 2018, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine putting out 162 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque drives the base GT trim—in the sedan, this same engine produces just 147 hp. Output improves even more for the GT Sport trim, which gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine taken directly from the Elantra Sport sedan that makes a respectable 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of peak torque delivered across a wide rpm range.
Hyundai pairs the base Elantra GT’s engine with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed Shiftronic automatic. The GT Sport also receives the 6-speed manual as standard equipment, although a 7-speed automatic with a manual shift mode and paddle shifters is available. In the sedan, the base engine posts fuel-economy numbers of 26 mpg city, 36 highway, and 29 combined with the manual shifter and 29, 38, and 33 with the automatic, while the turbo in the Elantra Sport sedan manages figures of 22, 30, and 25 with the manual and 26, 33, and 29 with the automatic, respectively. Expect similar numbers for the two GT hatchback trims. As on the sedan, the transmissions send power to the GT's front wheels.
Hyundai has tuned the suspension in the 2018 Elantra GT for a stiffer ride with a tighter feel and minimal body roll. The base GT rides on a rear torsion beam suspension, while the GT Sport trim gets an upgraded suspension with an independent multilink configuration and larger brakes designed for a sportier ride and improved handling.
Although it's about the same size as other compact hatchbacks, the new Elantra GT offers more total cargo capacity—at 55.1 cubic feet—than most of its competitors, which include the Volkswagen Golf (52.7 cubic feet), the Chevrolet Cruze (47.2), the Mazda Mazda3 (47.1), and the Honda Civic (46.2). With the GT's second-row seats up, cargo space measures a still-respectable 25 cubic feet, solidifying the hot hatch's versatility and practicality. Total interior space in the 5-passenger cabin tops out at 96.5 cubic feet, which approaches midsize-sedan territory.
Like its exterior, the Elantra GT's Euro-inspired interior styling differs from the sedan's, with sportier shaping along the dashboard and center stack. Some similar design cues remain, however, as well as the overall upscale look and feel. A new 8-inch display screen comes as standard equipment for 2018, improving on the previous generation's 7-inch one. The screen stands out from the dash at the top of the center console, putting it closer to the driver's line of sight, and incorporates an upgraded 5.0 version of the automaker's AVN infotainment system. Drivers can use the screen to access the reversing camera, 6-speaker audio system, satellite radio, and apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Available options include navigation, a premium audio system with a subwoofer, and a wireless smartphone charging pad.
Beyond the tech features, the base Elantra GT's standard equipment list hits all the basics, with such items as cloth upholstery, a 6-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and a 60/40-split rear seat. The GT Sport is a little more luxurious, thanks to upgraded features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and a 4.2-inch LCD digital instrument cluster.
The 2018 Elantra GT comes equipped with a wide range of safety features, including traction control, hill-start assist, and a driver's knee airbag. At the GT Sport trim level, blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert is standard and a number of additional items are available, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-keep assist. The 2017 Elantra sedan was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the GT hatchback should similarly garner good safety ratings.
There's no doubt the Elantra GT hatchback runs in a highly competitive field, and some early reviewers have noted design similarities between the GT and the Volkswagen Golf, which has been around for decades and also boasts a European heritage. The Elantra GT faces off against such newcomers as the Honda Civic Hatchback, which returned to showrooms in 2017 after an absence of over a decade, and the up-and-coming 2017 Chevy Cruze Hatchback, in addition to the well-reviewed Mazda3 and the Ford Focus Hatchback. But with its upscale tech features and European styling, peppy engine lineup, and expansive interior cargo space—not to mention its competitive price point—the 2018 Elantra GT gives sporty hatchback aficionados another viable option.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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