Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and few cars demonstrate this concept quite as well as the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. It’s got the same 1.8-liter engine under the hood as the rest of the Elantra lineup, yet it feels sportier. It’s priced below most of its hatchback competition, yet it somehow feels just a bit more premium than many others.
Blame it on the Elantra GT’s European finishing school background. It’s the first model in the Elantra lineup that wasn’t penned specifically for U.S. buyers; in fact, it’s a variation on the Hyundai i30 designed in Europe and sold worldwide. The result is a modern hatchback with impressive style, more than capable of going head-to-head with the likes of the new Ford Focus and the updated Mazda3 in terms of both appearance and content.
Under the Elantra GT's hood lurks the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine used throughout the Elantra lineup, good for 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. In the Elantra GT, it returns 39 mpg on the highway, 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg combined, with either the six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic transmission.
Outside, the car is a blend of the familiar and the bold. The familiar comes in the form of the hexagonal grille, shared with other models in the Elantra family as well as with Hyundai’s most sporting offering, the Genesis Coupe. The bold comes in the form of the Elantra GT’s plunging roofline, which gives the car a fastback look that mirrors the latest trend in hot hatchback design.
Inside, the Elantra GT goes a slightly different direction than other Elantra models, favoring a straight-edge dash design that lacks the styling flair of the other Elantra models’ hourglass-shaped center stack. It’s less distinctive, but it’s also more refined, as if Hyundai were pitching the Elantra GT to a different demographic (i.e., older) of buyer. While we’re happy with the inside of the Elantra, the interior of the Elantra GT seems just a bit more upscale to us.
Though the Elantra GT doesn’t have the horsepower to run with the big dogs in the hot hatch segment, Hyundai has done a good job of refining both suspension and steering for maximum enjoyment. The GT gets the same strut front and V-beam rear suspension as the Elantra Coupe, but with the added benefit of Sachs rear dampers. The electric steering can be set to Comfort, Normal or Sport modes, allowing the driver to optimize steering weight based on mood and conditions. Overall, the GT offers up a nimble feel with better-than-expected handling, yet never punishes occupants with an overly-harsh ride.
Since the Elantra GT is two inches shorter in wheelbase than the Elantra sedan, expect interior room to suffer. Front seat passengers won’t notice, but second-row occupants will. On the plus side, the Elantra GT also delivers 23 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up; fold them down, and there’s 51 cubic feet of hauling capacity. There’s storage underneath the cargo floor, too, as well as a deep center console bin and a cooled glovebox.
The Elantra GT has not yet been crash-tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA, but it comes complete with seven airbags, traction control, stability control and an available rear-view camera (when equipped with the Technology Package).
For more details, see the full review of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
NOTE: The Elantra GT is one of a group of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. Hyundai initially submitted figures of 27/39 mpg with the manual, or 31 mpg combined, and 28/39 mpg with the automatic, or 32 mpg combined.. On a confirmation check of several vehicles, the EPA found the Elantra GT's actual tested fuel economy to be 27/37 mpg or 30 mpg combined with the manual, and 26 mpg city with the automatic. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.