Hyundai Elantra hatchback just Gran for its segment
"That the Hyundai Elantra GT offers more bang for the buck, with more standard features and a longer warranty goes without saying."
The new 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT isn’t really a Grand Touring in the true sense of the term, but a well thought out and handsome four-door hatchback.
It’s the perfect companion for the Elantra sedan, which was launched a year earlier and voted 2012 Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
The previous generation Elantra GT was capable enough, but was definitely on the homely side. Not this version - the latest Hyundai to benefit from the “Fluidic Sculpture” school of design. With its new slippery shape, Hyundai claims that in its class only the 2012 Mazda3 has a better co-efficient of drag than the GT’s 0.30.
Automakers love to use charts to show the superiority of their product vs. the opposition and with every GT test drive Hyundai supplies a raft of comparisons.
One such chart shows that only Subaru Impreza has more interior volume; and the GT’s cargo volume of 651 litres with the rear seats upright is reportedly beaten only by Ford Focus hatchback. Another chart shows that at 82.2, GT offers more horsepower per litre of engine size than any of its direct competitors.
That the GT offers more bang for the buck, with more standard features and a longer warranty seems to go without saying.
The compact FWD hatchback comes in four trim levels - GL, GLS, SE and SE with Tech Package, ranging in price from $19,149 to $26,349.
Our test car is the GLS, at $21,449 - which for the money is equipped with some surprising standard items such as cruise control, panorama sunroof, heated front seats, cooled glove box, heated power mirrors and keyless entry. This is the model most customers will supposedly buy or lease.
Our tester also has the standard six-speed manual transmission which features short, precise throws and easy clutch action. A six-speed automatic is optional for $1,200. Fuel economy is virtually the same.
Sixth gear is really an overdrive for highway cruising. It makes the GT a little gutless on long hills, requiring frequent downshifts - something that wouldn’t be as noticeable with the automatic. But in the real world, the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine delivers 6.1 L/100km at slightly higher than highway limits.
Vision to the rear and sides is somewhat compromised - especially for shorter drivers - by the dramatically rising beltline and the rear seat headrests. And it’s made worse when adult passengers are riding in the back seats, which are okay, though a little tight for six-footers.
Front seats are roomy and comfortable and the standard panorama sunroof adds to the feeling of spaciousness.
In typical Hyundai fashion, controls are no-nonsense and easy to use, especially the manually operated climate control system. Cupholders are easy to access by either driver or front passenger and there are good storage spaces in the centre console.
Instrumentation is sparse, with only an analog speedometer and tach, with lighted bars showing engine temperature and fuel level. It’s hard to tell at a glance just how much gas is left in the tank.
There are three driver-selectable steering modes - comfort, normal and sport. When the GT is pushed, there is a bit of understeer - something most drivers won’t even notice. Brakes are discs all around with ABS, and panic stops are straight and true.
Hyundai claims best-in-class fuel economy for both the manual and automatic transmissions. In its usual optimistic fashion, Transport Canada rates Elantra GT for fuel consumption levels that are impossible to attain in the real world. Expect 6.9 L/100 km in combined highway-city driving, not the claimed 6.2.
Although not the grandest of tourers, the new Elantra GT is nonetheless one of the most practical, affordable and feature-packed compact family cars available in this country.
2012 Hyundai Elantra GT
Trim level: GLS
As tested before taxes: $21,439
Options on test car: none
Engine/transmission: 1.8L 4-cyl./ 6-spd manual
Power/torque: 148 hp/ 131 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): regular (53L)
Fuel economy ratings: 7.2 L/100km city; 4.9 L/100km highway
Observed fuel economy: 6.9 L/100km over 914 km
Warranties: 5 years/ 100,000 km (comprehensive)
Competitors: Chevrolet Sonic; Ford Focus; Kia Rio5; Mazda3; Nissan Versa; Toyota Matrix; Volkswagen Golf
Strengths: standard features; price; fuel economy
Weaknesses: imprecise gauges; somewhat tight rear seat