Brand new for the 2018 model year, the Hyundai Elantra GT ranks up there as one of the best all-round family hatchbacks on the market – albeit one that doesn’t excel in that many areas. Base models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine as standard, though buyers with a higher budget and cravings for more power will prefer the more potent 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines. A six-speed manual transmission comes as standard, with an automatic being available as a four-figure option. Though a bit uninspiring to drive, comfort and refinement levels are nevertheless very impressive for this class, and fuel economy’s also extremely competitive for this segment. Plus, being a Hyundai, the Elantra GT is reasonably priced in comparison with chief rivals.
The previous Hyundai Elantra GT was already a fairly strong all-rounder, so this brand-new replacement model had some pretty big boots to fill. Thankfully, this new car picks up right where its predecessor left off, even though this does mean the Hyundai’s far from being the most exciting offering in this class. That said, a combination of competitive interior space, a more upscale cabin, reasonable pricing, sublime road manners and ace on-paper fuel economy should entice many a prospective family hatchback buyer. Only the aforementioned uninspiring handling and the engine line-up that could do with a mild performance boost hold the Hyundai Elantra GT back from being a top-tier class leader.
The cabin quality was perhaps the main area of contention with the previous car, so it’s unsurprising it’s this aspect where the Hyundai Elantra GT has been improved the most. As well as the grade of materials being much higher than before, the assembly quality is improved here too, with the overall feeling of solidity and robustness permeating the interior. Ergonomics are good as well, aided by the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that, on top of being responsive to inputs, is also easy to navigate as a result of the crisp display, the handy shortcut buttons and its placement on top of the dashboard. Space-wise, the Hyundai Elantra GT is satisfactory-if-not-exactly-class-leading, with sufficient head and leg room all-round for sub-six-foot adults to sit comfortably in (though the rear seats are a bit tight on shoulder room). Storage spots are aplenty in the cabin, and the trunk’s of a good size too with its 24.9 and 55.1 cubic feet capacities with the rear seats fixed in place or folded down respectively.
Those craving a more sporting drive will be better catered by the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, but the Hyundai Elantra GT nevertheless is an enjoyable family hatchback to pilot, courtesy of the well-controlled body movement and accurate steering inputs. Other areas are where the car fares better, however: the ride, whilst firm, is rather comfortable, and the impressive amount of sound deadening means the cabin is whisper quiet at highway speeds bar a hint of wind noise around the front pillars. Forward visibility is good overall, which in conjunction with the responsive controls makes placing the Hyundai Elantra GT accurately on the road straightforward, though thick rear pillars do impede the view out back. A standard-fit reversing camera does offset those drawbacks somewhat.
Most Hyundai Elantra GT buyers will likely stick with the standard-fit 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, so it’s disappointing the unit isn’t that impressive. Whilst there’s enough torque for city driving and boasts decent refinement at highway speeds, the delivery of the peak power output at higher revs means you’ll need to work the engine hard when accelerating. Doing so will knacker the fuel economy, though less frenetic driving will see efficiency of up to 24mpg in the city and 32mpg on the highway. A more powerful 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is available that remedies the performance qualms and returns almost identical economy figures, but is exclusive to the range-topping trim level. The Hyundai Elantra GT comes with a pleasant and easy-to-use six-speed manual transmission as standard, though equally-impressive automatic transmissions (six-speed for base cars; seven-speed for top-spec models) available as an $1,000-$1,100 option, depending on the chosen trim level.
Value for money has long been a Hyundai calling card, and the $19,350 Hyundai Elantra GT is no exception. As well as being competitively priced in comparison with rivals (albeit also being substantially more expensive to buy than an equivalent Elantra sedan), the Elantra GT is also well-equipped for the money. All cars come with air-conditioning, a power-adjustable driver’s seat and a responsive 8-inch touchscreen setup with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The top-spec, $23,250 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport model adds blind spot monitoring, leather upholstery and heated front seats to the standard spec. Unusually, optional packages are only available after specifying an automatic transmission – meaning you’ll need to spend at least $1,000 just to spend even more on the bundles that include built-in navigation, ventilated front seats and wireless charging capabilities. No crash test scores are available for this new generation of Hyundai Elantra GT, though it’s expected the strong results of its predecessor will be retained or improved upon for its replacement.
As an all-round package, the Hyundai Elantra GT is a car that’s difficult to find considerably fault with. If you can live without lively driving dynamics and are fine with a slightly underpowered base engine, the Hyundai Elantra GT is a family hatchback that’s definitely worthy placing fairly high up on your shortlist.