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High-Content 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Review By Steve Purdy

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2013 Hyundai Elantra GT High-Content Hatchback

A High-Content Compact Hatchback

Review By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

The story of this new Hyundai Elantra GT is the story of content – amazing content for the price. Think of this: a highly styled compact hatchback with high-mileage powertrain, panoramic sunroof, beautiful alloy and chrome wheels, stitched leather interior, full navigation system and state-of-the-art telematics for less than 25 grand. Amazing!

Amazing content for the price has been the story of Hyundai and Kia for this most recent generation of cars even as they move upscale and prices slowly climb. That story along with one of the best warranty packages in the industry puts these Korean brands at or near the top of the heap in each category in which they compete.

The Elantra GT compact, five-passenger hatchback comes in only one trim level with a base price of $19,395 and that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, tilt and telescoping steering wheel all the power accessories you expect, Bluetooth technology, heated front seats, a six-speaker audio system and Blue Link telematics. Our test car is loaded with all the optional stuff referenced above, nearly all the goodies you can get, and our bottom line shows $25,365 including the $775 destination charge. We could be happy with the base car but this loaded one makes us grin ear to ear.

The Korea-built Elantra GT came along shortly after the Elantra sedan little more than a year ago. (The Elantra sedan comes in two trim levels beginning at just under 17 grand.) The GT fills a niche less appreciated here than across the pond where a compact hatch is the car of choice for many. The utility of these little wagons appeals to this reporter but the driving dynamics, content and style of the Elantra GT brings it to the forefront of the pack. We would not characterize this as a little wagon, though the last generation Elantra Touring was just that. That one had more cargo space but was as stylish as orthopedic shoes.

Exterior style and design of the new Elantra GT are modern in every way, from dramatic flowing lines with crisp definition that wrap gracefully around all the corners to the jewelry of the front and rear lights. The swoopy theme evolves from the stylish Sonata – where began the design language they characterize as “fluidic.” That language has been used successfully throughout the Hyundai lineup and lends itself to maximizing ability to slip smoothly through the air measured by what’s known as the coefficient of drag - in this case around 0.30, a sports car-like number. The Hyundai approach to this hatchback profile represents a high mark in aesthetic thinking about a practical car.

The swoopy, modern style extends to the interior design as well which is differentiated from the sedan with judicious use of more upscale materials among other tweaks. We find both style and execution to be remarkable for this mid-range car. Materials, fit and finish impress us as does the simplicity of controls. Our optional leather seats in this test car fit my oversize behind well and ingress/egress are better than expected for a car with such a low roofline. Interior volume is the forte of a small hatchback and the Elantra GT has a generous 51 cubic-feet of cargo space with the split folding rear seats folded. With the rear seat backs in place we still have 23 cubic-feet, better than most competitors.

Under the hood we find the same 148-horsepower 1.8-liter DOHC, direct injected gasoline engine making a modest 131 pound-feet of torque that powers Elantra sedan. The base car comes with a six-speed manual transmission but most buyers, we expect, will opt for the six-speed automatic. Rated by the EPA at 26-mpg in the city and 37 on the highway, using regular fuel, we managed just over 30-mpg in our week of varied driving conditions. We expected a bit better but, as you might guess, I was not trying to maximize fuel mileage. While power will satisfy the majority of customers it is certainly no tire-squealer. With a 12.8-gallon tank we have a good 350-mile range on average.

Suspension is just a tad tighter and stiffer than the sedan. Steering resistance is driver-adjustable for an even sportier feel but that did not increase the road feel and feedback. Most folks would not want it any more firm unless running on a racetrack or only on smooth roads. We found no unpleasantness in either handling or ride and the exceptionally quiet cabin contributes to a feeling of serenity. The independent suspension design and geometry are conventional with McPherson struts up front and torsion beams in the rear but tuning and sound isolation are better than average.

The exceptional Hyundai warranty applies to the Elantra GT, that is, coverage for the whole car for 5 years or 60,000 miles and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles. And, in an effort to stay on the leading edge of customer-focused technology Hyundai is including at no extra charge their “Assurance Connected Care,” features that include accident notification that will call for help if an airbag is deployed or call for help in an emergency and regular car “health reports” that can schedule a service appointment when needed. It’s all connected through the Blue Link telematics system. Blue Link comes standard on most of the company’s products now.

So, as with many other Hyundai vehicles we’ve reviewed, this Elantra GT is near the top of the list of “most car for the money.” You should have it high on your shopping list if you’re looking for a nice small car.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved