Hyundai created the new Elantra GT by taking the engine and transmission from the Elantra sedan and marrying it to a more performance-oriented chassis, wrapped in a crisp hatchback design that emulates some European cars. The result is a practical compact hatchback that’s a pleasure to drive.
The base Elantra GT has just enough spirit to feel sporty. Its 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 161 horsepower, and that’s helped by the quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission in our test car. This is a responsive powertrain, but it won’t set anyone’s heart on fire with its acceleration. Fuel economy, measured at 28 mpg overall, lags behind its most direct competitor, the Mazda3 hatchback. Plus it trails the 33 mpg recorded with the Elantra sedan.
Stepping up to the Elantra GT Sport gets drivers the 201-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder that brings extra intensity along with a more sophisticated rear suspension.
This little Hyundai takes corners eagerly, befitting its GT name. It exhibited tenacious tire grip around our test track and posted a commendable speed through our avoidance maneuver, garnering praise from our test drivers for its abilities and composure. The ride skews to the firm side.
The cabin suffers from noticeable road and wind noise, trailing the more refined Volkswagen Golf in this respect. The base engine can also sound a bit gruff when drivers accelerate hard.
A low stance means getting in and out can be tricky, although it’s not that much lower than some sedans on the market. We found the front seats comfortable for the segment, and the optional power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support is a surprising bit of luxury at this modest price.
The backseat offers enough head- and legroom to satisfy most adults. Folding the rear seat down lets owners stow a bicycle in the cargo area without removing its wheels -- the benefit of the Elantra GT’s hatchback configuration.
We found the cabin well-finished and uncluttered. Hyundai continues to make simple controls its hallmark, including the eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system positioned high on the dashboard for easy viewing. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility come standard.
The Elantra GT is well equipped for the price, but buyers must opt for the uplevel GT Sport trim to even have the chance to buy the optional advanced safety features such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist, pushing the price to nearly $30,000.