The GT is a hatchback version of Hyundai’s Elantra sedan that has, in Hyundai’s words, “five-door functionality and European driving dynamics.”
By TOM STRONGMAN
Sounds like a recipe for success to me. The Elantra sedan is one of my favorite compact sedans, and adding sport wagon versatility makes it even more appealing. Sport wagons are traditionally slow sellers in America, but they are popular in Europe, and for good reason: they provide hauling flexibility and utility. I never have figured out why American buyers are slow to warm to them. Maybe it is because anything that resembles a station wagon reminds buyers of the faux-wood-paneled behemoths of the 1970s.
The Elantra is a surprising machine, and Hyundai has expanded its reach by adding both a coupe and GT variant to the lineup. The styling that Hyundai calls ‘fluidic sculpture’ has a crispness that is both functional and attractive. Lines sweep over the vehicle in much the same way that wind might flow over it. It has a low, fairly short nose and a long sloping windshield.
The GT’s wagon back is not quite as elegant as that of the sedan, but it is more practical. The 0.30 coefficient of drag is among the best for this segment. Hyundai’s designers, however, have gone beyond a strictly functional shape and given the car excellent aesthetics. That’s a bonus for a moderately priced compact with one of the longest warranties in the business.
The GT’s base price is $18,545 with a manual transmission and $19,545 with an automatic. Standard equipment includes a cooled glove box, heated front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, leather seating surfaces, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel controls for radio and cruise control.
The test car was equipped with both the Tech Package and the Style Package. It was equipped with items such as panoramic sunroof, navigation system, rearview camera, keyless ignition and dual-zone climate control. Many of these features are found on more expensive vehicles.
The 1.8-liter engine, with 148 horsepower, delivers excellent fuel economy. It has dual, continuously variable camshafts, a variable intake system and an electronic throttle control instead of a conventional cable linkage. Fuel economy is rated at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on the highway with the six-speed automatic transmission.
Drivability is excellent. The acceleration is quick enough to be satisfying and yet the car cruises comfortably even at speeds slightly above the posted limit. Performance is aided by an automatic transmission that can also be shifted manually.
Tire and road noise are noticeable at highway speeds and that made me wish for more sound deadening. This is a compact car, mind you, so luxury-car quiet is not expected.
The ride and handling are as good as anything in its class. The GT has 17-inch wheels. The GT’s sport suspension is tightened down so the car doesn’t feel soft or floaty. It takes corners without much lean and the steering has excellent feel. Steering feel is adjustable through three settings with a button on the wheel.
Even though the Elantra is a compact, it doesn’t feel cramped inside. The wheelbase is 104.3 inches long, slightly shorter than the sedan. The cabin is nicely styled and the seats were comfortable. Fold-down rear seats create space for some pretty large items.
All of the controls on the center stack are symmetrically designed, and while some of the buttons are a bit small, their design doesn’t impede function.
Safety features include knee, front, side and side-curtain airbags, along with vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes and traction control.
The base price of the test car was $19,545. Seventeen-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, sunroof, navigation system, rearview camera, dual-zone climate control and keyless ignition brought the sticker price to $25,565.
Five years or 60,000 miles, with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five years of roadside assistance.
Tom Strongman’s email address is email@example.com.