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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT A Fun Hatch Review By Larry Nutson

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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT
A fun hot hatch

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The redesigned 2018 Elantra GT was our Thanksgiving weekend road trip car that would take us from Chicago to Southeast Michigan. More exactly it was the 201-HP Elantra GT Sport WITH a six-speed manual transmission.

For a couple reasons my wife and I were hoteling it this weekend instead of the usual in-law arrangement. I quickly became known to the hotel parking valet since I was the guy driving the stick shift car. I think they battled a bit over who got to do the parking.

The all-new 5-passenger hatchback 2018 Elantra GT made its debut at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show last February. Like many new cars these days, it’s longer, lower, and wider. It’s Euro-styled with an aggressive stance, has Euro-type driving dynamics and a roomy interior with good cargo capacity.

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There are two models to choose from---the GT priced at $19,350 or the more fun-to-drive GT Sport starting at $23,250.

The front-drive GT is powered by a 162-HP 2.0-L four cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The GT Sport’s power comes from a 201-HP turbocharged 1.6-L four cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic.

No option packages are offered on either of the manual transmission models. The GT with automatic has two--a Style Package for $1,800 and a Tech Package for $4,300, which also requires the Style Package.

For the GT Sport with the dual-clutch trans there’s a Tech Package available priced at $3,850. In addition to a large panoramic sunroof and navigation, this is the only way to get driver-assistance safety features namely, Smart Cruise Control with stop/start capability, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Attention Assist, High-Beam Assist, and Blind Spot Detections with Rear Cross-traffic Alert.

Even though I enjoyed driving the manual transmission GT Sport. I would opt for the DCT to get these safety features if I were doing the buying. In spite of the added cost, if they save you from just one crash they will have paid for themselves.

I’ve driven the Elantra Sport sedan with the same 201-HP engine and the DCT and it’s plenty of fun with good performance. And, interestingly, the DCT model gets better fuel economy than both the GT models and also the GT Sport with the manual.

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The Elantra GT makes use of a lot of high-strength steel as well as structural adhesive that help make for good driving dynamics. Exclusive to the GT Sport is a rear multi-link independent suspension along with larger front and rear stabilizer bars, higher spring and damper rates, upsized 12-inch front brake rotors, retuned steering and retuned final drive ratios. Multi-spoke 7.5-inch wide 18-inch wheels mounted with 225/40 high performance all-season tires ground the GT Sport.

Dynamically the Elantra GT Sport is fun to drive. The turbo comes on nicely and the 201-HP and 195 lb-ft of torque push you down the road quickly. Zero to 60 mph is in around 6.6 seconds, by my rough estimate. The six-speed manual is easy to shift vey crisply with well-defined gates and comfortable clutch action. I thought the suspension tuning crisp and firm enough with good compliance and roll control. The tires grip well, although with their low profile I needed to be careful for the ever-present potholes and the road resurfacing work with sharp transitions at shaved-off surface junctures.

EPA test-cycle ratings for the GT Sport with M/T are 25 mpg combined, with 22 city mpg and 29 highway mpg. On the first leg of our Thanksgiving road trip we got 31 mpg over a 246 mile drive with an overall average speed of 66 mph. It’s noteworthy that I easily exceeded the EPA highway rating, which is calculated from a laboratory dyno-test with an average speed of 48 mph.

By the way, the EPA test-cycle ratings for the GT Sport with the DCT are 28 combined, with 26 city mpg and 32 highway mpg.

The GT’s fuel tank is a decent 14 gallons making for long drives between refueling.

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On the inside, my wife and I had plenty of room. Hyundai’s designers worked some magic with the GT’s packaging. In spite of its compact 171 inch outside overall length, the interior package has 96.5 cubic feet of passenger room, leading to an EPA classification as a large car.

Behind the 60/40 split-fold rear seat is 25 cubic feet of cargo room that opens up to 55 cubic feet when folded. Hyundai says that the Elantra GT’s cargo capacity is larger than the Civic, Cruze, Focus, Golf and Mazda3.

I’ve been a hatchback fan for a long time with their ratio of short overall length to a big cargo area. It’s a much better ratio than in a sedan. America’s current love affair with SUVs is in part reflective of the convenience of hatchback-style vehicles.

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There’s plenty of comfort on the inside too. The front seats are nicely supportive making for good road-tripping. Leather seats (also heated in front) and leather steering wheel rim, red accent stitching and also red-finished metal accent trim all make for a sporty look and feel. The 8-inch touch screen is mounted at eye level, which I prefer, and is quite easy to use.

On a final note, Hyundai has a really good warranty that covers the whole car for 5-years or 60,000 miles.

Is there a hot hatch in your future? Give the Elantra GT a good look.

Save the manuals!

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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