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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT: The Korean European Hatchback

by Chad Kirchner
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT: The Korean European Hatchbackzoom in

In the past few years, hatchbacks have grown some in popularity in the United States, but buyers still ultimately prefer the higher-riding crossover or full-on SUV for hauling themselves and their families around. For those who recognize the benefits of a hatchback, the new Hyundai Elantra GT is one they should seriously look at, because it checks all the boxes for a good car with an additional dosage of fun.

Starting at $19,350(USD) before destination, the Elantra GT offers something its sibling sedan doesn’t in most trims; a sporty ride. The Elantra Sport and hatchback GT have a multi-link rear suspension to improve handling. During the media introduction in southern California, we were able to drive the car on some of the best roads in the country, and it makes a difference.

Buyers can opt for a base 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with either a manual or automatic transmission. Upgrading to a 1.6L turbocharged sport version lets you keep the manual, or opt for a 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. While sporty drivers will surely want to pay for the upgrade, the base model we drove still handled well.

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At one point on our drive, my drive partner caught a last-generation GTI on a twisty set of canyon roads. Not only did our base car keep up with the more-powerful German, but the driver wouldn’t use the turnout lane to let us go back so we had to overtake the old-fashioned way.

When tuning the Elantra GT for the U.S. market, engineers kept much of the European tuning to its ride and handling. Yes, cars are different for each market, and it’s not fair to say that the Elantra GT is exactly the same as the European version, but it is fair to say that some of those characteristics carried over when the car made the trip across the pond. This car is simply a delight to drive.

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Options abound as well. Hyundai has never skimped on its value proposition, and the Elantra GT has features in spades. Our loaded non-Sport had LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, dual zone climate control and heated and ventilated seats. Three years of BlueLink come with the purchase of the car, which allows you to remotely start the vehicle or connect it to an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Additionally, the infotainment system supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The car is literally everything I’d want out of a small hatchback. What’s doubly-impressive is that I don’t consider it a hot hatch. It’s just a good driving, European-inspired hatchback that does everything you need a car to do without breaking the bank.

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In the driving dynamics and available options category, the Elantra GT is near the top of the class for compact hatchbacks. In some ways I even prefer it to the Civic Hatchback, because you get a real shifting transmission, and not a CVT. The only thing I’m not sold on – and your opinion may vary – is the exterior appearance of the car. I don’t think the front-end fits the shape of the rest of the car the way it should. You might think I’m full of it, and that’s okay. Looks are always subjective.

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Ultimately, the Elantra GT delivers family car practicality with enough sportiness to keep you entertained. Add in fairly-priced options and a 5-year/60,000 mile basic and 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and you have yourself a winner.

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