The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Review By Steve Purdy

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Review by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Not long ago the U.S. market did not favor the compact hatchback, or any hatchback for that matter. Asians and Europeans loved them but repeated attempts by U.S. automakers to bring them over, or design something similar, failed.

Not the case anymore.

At least half the vehicles I’ve reviewed over the past many months have been compact crossovers or 5-door hatchbacks. And, it’s easy to see why they are so popular. Not only are they handy, efficient and practical, they’ve evolved into being fun, fast and fashionable. Our flavor of the week – 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – exhibits all those qualities.

Sometimes it is hard to discern a hatchback from a crossover from a station wagon as the lines between them blur. But, I guess it doesn’t really matter what you call it if it suits your needs, and if it looks good doing it. Am I right?

While our Elantra GT Sport’s exterior style and design appear rather conservative it has just enough personality to catch your eye, particularly with this “Black Noir Pearl” paint job and flashy 18-inch alloy wheels. A large black grille and black cheek vents lack the deep sculpting of some of its competitors but the result is a more German look. Modest sculpting all around with shapely wheel arches, big wheels, premium trim details and a traditional European two-box profile put it in league with even some of its high-end competitors.

Inside we find much of its charm. We first notice the red stitching and red piping on the dark gray (they call it black) leather seats. At the same time, we see red metal trim around the simple, functional interior that really sets it off as something special. The multifunction screen sticks up from the low dash for good visibility. I found the management of everything on the screen to be better than most and it is easy to reach from the driver’s seat. At the base of the center stack, in a deep, covered bin, resides 12V power, USB and auxiliary outlets – a good location, if you ask me.

The seats offer enough range to accommodate event this oversize reviewer - way easier ingress and egress than most compact 4- and 5-doors I’ve encountered. (I’m looking at you Lexus IS.) Rear seatbacks fold, of course, and do so easily and smoothly. Cargo capacity with rear seatbacks in place is a more-than-competitive 24.9 cubic-feet, and when folded we have a good 55.1 cubic feet to stow our stuff.

We find more of the front-wheel drive Elantra GT Sport’s charm under the hood. We have the smaller and more powerful of two engines offered in Elantra, a 1.6-liter turbo with direct injection making a solid 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The other engine is a 2.0-liter with less horsepower, torque and sophistication. Elantra’s come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. Ours had the optional 7-speed, dual clutch automatic. All-wheel drive is not offered. Fuel mileage, says the EPA, ought to be about 32 on the highway, 26 in the city and 28 mpg combined on regular fuel. A 14-gallon fuel tank makes for a better-than-average cruising range. While I never found a readout for fuel mileage I think we were well within those expectations. At least it sure seemed like the fuel gauge crept down mighty slowly.

Hyundai’s warranty covers the whole car for 5 years or 60,000 miles and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles. That warranty is what brought Hyundai and sister brand Kia out of obscurity and into the mainstream of automakers. Both brands have scored at or near the top in the J.D. Power quality surveys for segments in which they compete for the past few years.

The Korean-built Elantra GT with larger, but more tepid four-cylinder engine and manual transmission without any options can be had for less than 20-grand. It is a fine little crossover with a good level of content. Our-flavor-of-the-week, Elantra GT Sport, starts at $24,350 with automatic transmission, leather, and a full slate of included content. With the $3,850 Sport Tech Package it shows a bottom line on the sticker of $29,210 including the $885 “Freight and Handling” charge. The Tech Package includes: panoramic sunroof, larger touch screen with navigation and traffic, premium audio, wireless charging, ventilated seats and a bunch of driver assistance technologies and a bunch more. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are included. All-in-all, it’s a mighty well-equipped little thing.

With fully independent suspension, disc brakes all around, and inspired suspension tuning we found the driving dynamics excellent. The quick-shifting automatic transmission compliments the energetic turbo-four managing most conditions well. I once punched it in high gear and low speed and it just bogged while the turbo awakened and the transmission awaited its signal to downshift. That was certainly the exception since under all other circumstances all factions of the powertrain worked fabulously together. (Don’t you wish Congress could do that?) Paddle shifters give us the welcome option to override the power control algorithms if we’re thinking ahead or have good instints.

While some competitors are quieter inside, I know of none in the mainstream, small hatch class that drive and handle any better for the everyday driver. And, if you’re a driving enthusiast just opt for the manual transmission for lots more fun at the controls.

So, what do you think? Have hatchbacks finally made their mark in the U.S.?

I think so. And, I’m glad they have.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

The Most In-Depth Independent Hyundai Buyer's Research - Anywhere!