The 2018 Elantra GT was at a horrible disadvantage from the get-go, positioned as it was at a press event comprised of far more expensive, larger and louder machines. But this little hatchback caught our eyeball, not an easy task as Hyundai has been quite off our radar of late; there are just so many vehicles introduced into the American market each year and we don’t get to all of them.
Three things we noticed straightaway, though.
1) We didn’t recognize it, so the initial reaction was “Hey, what’s that good-lookin’ car?” instead of “Yawn, you again.” In a field of “sporty lines” and “athletic stances,” it was a pleasure to see something that doesn’t look like 10 other cars on the market.
2) The vehicle was black – we like black.
3) Upon a window peek-in, we discovered the vehicle housed a standard 6-speed shift. Giddyap.
A test was arranged and we spent a week enjoying the Elantra GT’s high-end cockpit appointments, stuffing its trunk with junk or laying down the back seats and packing it with musical equipment, “throwing it around corners” and cussing its parking brake mounted on the center console which we couldn’t decide whether one flips up or down to set or release. Conclusion? It’s a refreshing alternative to its workaday Corolla and Civic rivals.
The Drive: It’s functional, not explosive. The turbo, assisting the 201-hp 1.6 litre inline-four engine, helps. It’s noisy inside at speed. It’s got a more-than-decent sound system, though, and that makes up for the interior loudness. Braking is assured, neither grabby nor mushy. Electrically-assisted steering is accurate enough for this segment, neither razor-sharp nor numb.
Inside: Standard leather seats are quite comfortable for all-day jaunts. Interior appointments make the car stand out from others, such as red stitching and an honest-to-goodness red ball gearshift. With seats upright, you’ve got 25 cubic feet of luggage space; if you fold the 60/40-split rear seatbacks down, your interior space increases to 55 cubic feet. Standard goodies include LED head- and taillights, a blind-spot monitoring system, a proximity key with push-button start, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Spring for the “Sport Tech” package and you’ll get a nav system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams and other pluses. Curiously, though, the package is only available for the automatic, not the standard shift.
Conclusion? The vehicle matched what we thought we were looking at upon sight – a good-looking, inexpensive ride.