As an American of British/Irish descent, I have often marveled that in spite of the fact that the USA is comprised of citizens from all walks of life, rich, poor, and from every corner of the world, there is one common perception about cars. And as Americans, most tend to snub their noses at a hatchback, and why is that? There is this crazy misconception that a hatchback is akin to flying economy class, while a formal sedan is more like flying coach. This silly rationale is one of the reasons Europeans point and laugh at us when we travel abroad.
By now, the Elantra is a household name, but in 2002, Hyundai slipped in a sleek five door hatch called the Elantra GT. One look at it, and I saw it as sort of a poor man’s Saab 9-3. The Elantra GT disappeared after 2007, but 2009 saw saw the introduction of the Elantra Touring, which was a small station wagon based on the European market Hyundai i30. The Elantra Touring is gone, but Hyundai reinvented the i30 as a hatchback, and what we get is the Elantra GT.
The Elantra GT is a fantastic looking car from any angle. Fluid lines, swooping curves make a strong statement. With the GT, Hyundai has done a fine job of designing a compact car that looks more expensive than it is. No one is going to mistake the car for an Audi A7, the Elantra GT comes off as cool and sophisticated. Rolling in to a four star hotel outside Washington DC, the GT needed no excuses or apologies, and looked right at home.
I’ll confess, I wasn’t thrilled knowing I’d be making the drive from my native Connecticut to Washington DC in the Elantra GT, but the car more than proved itself as a competent road tripper. More than enough room for a family of three and their luggage, but the Elantra GT really proved itself for a long drive beset by accidents and terrible traffic conditions. After an eight hour drive to DC, we were exhausted, but to the Elantra’s credit, we did not ache a bit. Clear gauges and intuitive controls make the Elantra easy to live with. After a 650 mile round trip, the Elantra GT passed with flying colors.
Motivation for the Elantra GT is delivered via a 1.8L four cylinder rated at 148hp. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or automatic. That’s about on par for cars in this class, but Hyundai deserves a huge thank you from enthusiasts for letting the stick be available no matter how you option out your GT, while the competition makes their most basic car the only option if you like to shift for yourself. Our test car was equipped with the automatic, which shifted smoothly and was always ready to drop a couple gears if I needed more speed. The Elantra is peppy around town, and can more than hold its own on the highway, but you won’t be winning any drag races. That said, the Elantra GT cruised comfortably for hours at 80mph. While I am told Hyundai softened the suspension a tad for Americans, this was a real tight car as far as ride and handling go.
The Elantra GT starts at a reasonable $18,545USD, with SiriusXM Radio, Bluetooth and iPod integration standard. Our test car included the Style Package, which added 17″ alloys, panoramic sunroof, leather interior and a power driver’s seat. Also, the Technology Package added a rearview camera, dual zone auto climate control and navigation. Including delivery, our Elantra GT rang in at $25,550USD, which is not bad for the amount of kit our car came with.
And so, The Garage has sampled the entire family of the Elantra-sedan, coupe and GT. Of the threesome, the GT is my pick. For style, features and panache, the Elantra GT represents a great value, not to mention excellent utility to boot. Yes, Hyundai knows the sedan will easily outsell the GT, but as enthusiasts let’s be thankful Hyundai has offered us the GT, a delightful Korean car with a European accent.