2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Hot hatches have always been our favorite type of vehicle, followed closely by what some call a Shooting Brake, but we call a Station Wagon. Yet it seems that the great unwashed prefer Crossovers and SUVs instead. But that hasn’t deterred Hyundai from introducing the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Styled and benchmarked in Europe, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT shares much of its design and DNA with the European Hyundai i30. Directly targeted towards the enthusiast crowd who also like the utility of a hatchback, it attempts to pick the best traits of the European ‘bahn burners. Hop in as we see if anything was lost in translation.

What’s New With The Elantra GT?

On the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT? Nearly everything. Taking cues from the i30, there is new design everywhere, starting with the Cascading Grille to the lower bumper air curtains that sweep air over the front wheels, to the rear spoiler and available LED taillights and dual exhaust system, this Hyundai is clearly no Corolla wanna-be.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Two versions of the Elantra GT exist, depending on how deep your enthusiasm is rooted. The base Elantra GT is equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) four-cylinder engine that produces 161-horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The base model comes with a six-speed manual or an available six-speed electronic automatic transmission. It rides on a unibody-constructed chassis with MacPherson struts and coil springs in front and a torsion beam axle at the rear.

The high-line Elantra GT Sport that we drove steps things up a bit by swapping the larger engine out for a 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI powerplant that cranks out 201-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Power for the front driver comes from either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with on-demand Shiftronic manual shifting via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

And then things get even more interesting.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport tosses the torsion beam back into the Hyundai parts bin. Instead, it opts for a full multilink independent rear suspension, higher performance front and rear springs, sport tuned dampers, 12-inch brake rotors in front and a 15mm stabilizer bar at the rear.

The pair of Elantra GTs are slated to do battle with the likes of stalwarts like the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla iM and Chevrolet Cruze.

Inside design.

The new interior of the Elantra GT Sport features a more contemporary view of things looking forward,

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

and even goes slightly Mercedes-like through the use of an 8.0-inch pedestal mounted display screen. The telescoping steering column brings the tiller closer to the driver for ultimate control. Speaking of controls, they are easily reached and, we think, nicely accented by red stitching and brightwork around the cabin. An available Infinity Premium Audio System with Clari-fi music restoration software and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all now part of the mix.

The rear seats are a tighter fit although if it is just you and a significant other, there are more than 55-cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded forward.

Safety

From a safety standpoint, the Elantra GT Sport doesn’t disappoint with available Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist. One day they might be included at no charge.

Behind the wheel

A majority of drivers will be content with the 2.0-liter four-banger for most applications. We’re not most drivers though, and sprang for the 1.6-liter Elantra GT Sport instead. While not head snapping, we did get off on having our heads bounce off the headrests while climbing through the gears of our DCT gearbox. The Sport GT did manage to keep noise at bay during most situations and on most road surfaces, while at the same time managing to let a few high-rev engine dBs penetrate the cabin.

The handling in the GT Sport is greatly improved over the standard torsion beam setup and practically invited us to thrash it through the sweeping curves found in the Low Country of suburban Charleston, SC. The steering was well-weighted and helped to make sense of the rather firm ride. That included the feeling of virtually every piece of ballast stone that makes up some of the older streets found in this legendary town. What’s ballast stone, you may ask? It was a stone carried in empty ships to help stabilize them when not carrying a load. When they would load up with goods such as tobacco or cotton, the ballast stones were removed, and piled at dockside. Eventually there were too many of the stones to go around so they started to pave the streets with them instead.

The front seats were nicely bolstered but as we have found with other Hyundai products, rather hard to the backside, especially if you have what is generally known as a boney ass. Still, at the end of the day, as the price of its competition has risen, the new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport hits the sweet spot in hot hatchdom today.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2017 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Base MSRP: $24,350 As tested: $25,235

Includes: Destination fee, $885.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    Inline four-cylinder

Displacement:                            2.0 GDI or 1.6 Turbo GDI

Power:                                         2.0: 161hp @ 6,200 rpm; 1.6: 201hp @ 6,000

Torque:                                       2.0: 150 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm; 1.6: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

Fuel System:                              Gas Direct Injection

Fuel:                                             Regular

Drive Type:                                FWD

Gearbox:                                     6-speed Manual or 7-speed dual clutch automatic

Unladen Weight:                      3,158-pounds

Length:                                       170.9-inches

Width:                                        70.7-inches

Height:                                       57.7-inches

Wheelbase:                               104.3-inches

Cargo Volume:                          55.1-cubic feet rear seat folded

City:                                                         26

Highway:                                                32

Combined:                                             28