The manual transmission variant of a favouriteThe Elantra GT offers impressive styling, practicality, and fun, though not being a "hot hatch" like a GTI or a Focus ST.
I’ve had the pleasure of testing several brand-new Hyundais over the past several months, and honestly, each one has been a wonderful experience. This week, I am in the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT 6-speed hatchback, one of three incarnations of the outgoing Elantra. Having already tried the Elantra Coupe, I was very much looking forward to the GT for 3 reasons. Firstly, the Hyundai Elantra is a great car. Secondly, I personally love hatchbacks. Everything from the looks to the practicality just works for me. Thirdly, this is the 6-speed manual version, and I know for a fact that a manual transmission does wonders for a compact car.
In the recent past, save for the subcompact Accent, Hyundai never actually had a compact-class hatchback to compete with the likes of the Honda, Toyota, Ford, Mazda, et al. Of course there briefly was the Elantra Touring wagon, but in all honesty it was fundamentally terrible and barely made a dent into the sales of other hatchbacks. This new Elantra GT though, most definitely comes in with an impact.
As you probably all know by now, I’m a big fan of Hyundai’s new fluidic design philosophy. A few styling features unique to the Elantra GT include more prominently flared fenders, a flowing roofline, and a short rear end highlighted by LED tail lights that wrap all the way around to the fuel filler cap. In terms of dimensions, it’s right in between the sedan and coupe variants. The 16” aluminum alloy wheels and front fog lights are very nice touches as well.
As in the Elantra sedan and coupe models, the GT is equipped with the 1.8L inline-4 that produces 148 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque. It’s not a lot of power but a 6-speed manual transmission makes the most out of every single one of those horses. Weighing in at around 2900 lbs, it’s respectably light, and with a bit chassis and suspension engineering, it’s easily the sportiest of the 3 variants. In addition to some chassis bracing, the suspension is firmed up a bit, and it does make a notifcable difference. Body roll is relatively minimal and doesn’t discourage you from taking corners fast.
Unfortunately in the steering feel department, I have to say I came out a bit disappointed. Sure, if you’re evaluating the Elantra GT as your average compact hatchback, it’s certainly not bad. However, with all the effort Hyundai have put into designing and advertising the Elantra GT as a more “sport” oriented model, I’m forced to be more critical. There are three available steering modes selectable through the electrically assisted power steering: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. Each mode essentially controls the stiffness of the steering. It sounds great in theory, but it does nothing except make the steering wheel heavier. Steering feel and feedback is pretty numb in all three modes and Sport mode actually causes the Elantra to sometimes be twitchy and over-sensitive during highway driving. To be honest, I found myself just leaving it in Comfort or Normal most of the time. Steering aside, the 148 horsepower and the 6-speed manual transmission are a competent combo for every day driving and can even be quite fun if you feel inclined to flex your right foot.
As with all modern Hyundai models, the interior is aesthetically well designed and feels well-built. The use of high quality materials has really put recent Hyundai vehicles among the top of their respective classes. My GLS tester came equipped with an abundant amount of features including all the typical power options, heated front seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel as well as XM radio and iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. The classy panoramic sunroof stretches across almost the entire length of the car, and has a power operated shade as well. Not bad for $21,349 as tested. Most of the knobs and buttons are well laid out however I found the entertainment system on/off and tuning knobs a little hard to reach, as they’re placed at the very top of the center console. Interior room is ample, with great front and rear headroom and legroom, and trunk space is pretty good for this segment. Again, that’s thanks to the beauty of the hatchback.
Hyundai’s fuel economy estimates for the manual Elantra GT are 7.8L/100km city and 5.3L/100km highway, for a combined 6.7L/100km. As you should probably know by now, manufacturers’ fuel estimates aren’t always reliable. However, I was able to get around 6.9L/100km on the highway, and around 8.8L/100km in the city in temperatures well below zero, for an overall 8.4L/100km. For winter driving conditions, I wasn’t complaining in the slightest.
It still amazes me how much car you can get for so little nowadays, and with all of the options available to consumers today, there is zero excuse to have a bad car at any price point. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT 6-speed offers impressive styling, practicality, and fun. It may not be a “hot hatch”, such as a GTI or a Focus ST, but it’s essentially the best it gets in the $20,000 range. I came away impressed.
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT 6-speed Gallery