The 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT has officially joined the ever growing segment of compact hatch back, claiming to be a crossover alternative which offers a more fun driving experience. To back up this claim, Hyundai, every model now comes with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. The Elantra GT Sport has also been added, and this variant is sitting right on top of the standard Elantra GT that has a turbocharged engine and its very own one of a kind suspension setup. Just like the rest of the models from Hyundai, the Elantra GT also comes with numerous tech features to ensure that you stay connected while on the road.
The development of the Elantra GT happened primarily in Europe with the close scrutiny and inspection of Albert Biermann, Hyundai’s head of high performance development and vehicle test, and formerly the boss of the M division of BMW. The two models both feature bodies made of 53% high strength steel that is almost double the 27% of the outgoing car. The car also features a structural adhesive of 367 feet, which, together with the extensive hot stamping use all over the body, has greatly improved the rigidity of the body.
Unlike the standard Hyundai Elantra GT, GT Sport has gotten a completely independent suspension with the multilink setup at the back rather than the torsion beam of the base car. The rates of rear and front spring are up 22% and 12% respectively, while the steering system and dampers also got a retune for a sporty driving experience. The GT Sport also comes with a rear stabilizer bar of 15-mm for a better handling.
Hyundai has also invited several journalists to San Diego, California to give them the chance of driving the 2018 Elantra GT and the GT Sport. They took it to freeways, city streets, and winding roads. During the route’s first half, they drove the base model of Elantra GT that comes with the 2.0-liter I-4’s 162 horsepower and 150 pound feet of torque combined with 6-speed automatic and they were surprised to find it punchy. Its 6-speed automatic can shift smoothly and hold gears much longer when in Sport Mode. But, since paddle shifters are not present, there is a need to shift manually using the gear shifter.
They were also surprised to find handling nimble with just minimal body roll in spite of being pushed hard despite the base car’s torsion beam rear suspension. The standard Elantra GT also has more compliance as it rides on allow wheels of 17 inches with more sidewall which gives it a slightly improved ride comfort compared to the GT sport. Its steering has also been nicely made precise and weighted although it lags a bit behind the Mazda3 and Honda Civic when it comes to feel and feedback.
During the second part of the drive, the Elantra GT sport equipped with manual transmission has been put to test and driving it was found to be entertaining. It is easy to work with the smoother shifter although it has somewhat long throws. You can also easily find the engagement point of the clutch. The optional 7-speed dual clutch automatic is also a great unit that is responsive, quick, and smooth whether you shift manually using the paddle shifters or just leave it on to its own devices.
When the driving is in low sped, its dual clutch gearbox also feels much more polished without stumbling as much like the eco-tuned units that were found in other vehicles of Hyundai and Kia. Its 201 horsepower 1.6-L turbo 4 serves up lots of torque with 195 pound feet available from 1,500-4,500 rpm which makes it easier to climb grades, pass slower traffic, or accelerate when going up highway speeds, all made possible by the broad torque curve.
In spite of the lack of limited slip differential, Elantra GT Sport manages to put down its power well, which makes driving faster an easy thing. Its steering is more direct and precise unlike the standard car, all because of its more aggressive tune. Its sportier suspension calibration that has multilink setup on the back livens up the handling of the Elantra GT Sport with a better control of the body and stability in all the corners with lesser effect on the comfort during a ride. The GT Sport also comes with standard allow wheels of 18 inches wrapped in all season tires that are performance oriented and bigger brake rotors which measure 11.2 inches and 12 inches for the rear and front respectively.
The cabin of the 2018 Elantra GT is also a nice place, thanks to its supportive and comfortable front seats, excellent visibility because of the more upright profile, and spacious seats at the rear with almost a flat floor. Even though its cabin is mainly quiet, it could get noisy due to the surfaces that are poorly maintained, particularly in GT sport with lower profile tires.
You can also find a lot of storage cubbies ideal for your smaller items together with a huge cargo area with a space of 24.9 cubic feet at the back of the 60/40 split folding seats at the back and the underfloor storage. By folding down the rear seats, you will get a cargo capacity of 55.1 cubic feet, which is among the biggest in this segment and just 0.2 cubic feet lower than the 55.3 cubic feet of the Subaru Impreza hatchback. Quality of material is exceptional with the dash’s soft touch plastics and places where your arms often fall. There are also cheaper plastics which are far from the touch points.
Just like the rest of the modern Hyundais, 2018 Elantra GT also comes with user-friendly multimedia system and there is even no need for you to read the manual just to learn the functions of this and that. Voice commands are easy to understand, with the latest standard touchscreen of 8 inches quick to respond to inputs. Some other notable features include the ventilated and heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, full LED headlights, navigation and infinity premium audio system coming from Harman industries.