COSTA MESA, California — It’s easy to be cynical about any Hyundai that purports to be an enthusiast’s car. The automaker was never quite able to sort out the Genesis Coupe, discontinuing the two-door after one generation, and its messaging in terms of positioning continues to be conflicting. But you can leave your cynicism in the parking lot when it comes to the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport GT, as this compact is a legit warm hatch.
Under the hood of the 2018 Elantra GT Sport is a 1.6-liter turbo-four good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, an ample amount to scoot the svelte, 3,014-pounder to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. The six-speed manual gearbox in our test car is a good unit, as well. While the shifter is not buttery smooth, the clutch is easy to modulate and the combination makes for a fun experience that’s also not too painful in traffic. A seven-speed twin-clutch automatic is available for those that don’t want to row their gears, but at that point, you might as well step up to a compact crossover.
The steering isn’t anything special—feedback is in short supply and feeling is artificial— but it’s reasonably quick and offers enough resistance so that it is easy to keep on-center. On the chassis side, the GT Sport uses a rear multilink independent setup, making for more balanced and responsive handling, and further securing its place as the enthusiast’s choice—not only does the regular Elantra GT use a less-powerful, normally aspirated 2.0-liter four, it also uses a rear beam-axle setup.
When it comes to everyday practicality, the Elantra GT offers up to 55.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. A bicycle may be a tight fit, but a snowboard or short surfboard will fit easily without negating the use of the front passenger seat. And should you need to make use of the roof—say, to carry a pair of bicycles or a kayak—the hatchback’s 57.7-inch height makes it easy to attach and use an aftermarket roof rack.
On the tech side, the Elantra GT Sport comes standard with an 8.0-inch screen, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, a rearview camera, and blind-spot monitoring. Heated front seats are standard, too, as is leather upholstery—though some would consider that a downside. An available Technology Package packs a stack of goodies including navigation, active cruise control, ventilated seats, a sunroof, and an upgraded stereo, but you have to add the automatic and nearly $5,000 to the price tag—$1,100 for the DCT itself and $3,850 for the package.
Better yet, the overall design is pleasing to the eye, both inside and out. The well-sculpted sheetmetal looks almost premium, while the interior is well laid-out and assembled nicely; the materials don’t feel cheap.
In all, especially considering the reasonable $24,135 base price, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport is a compelling option for the budget-conscious city dweller who likes to shift their own gears and enjoys multi-modal fun in the canyons. Or anyone else who wants a versatile and fun-to-drive car without an excess of bells and whistles—and the associated inflated sticker—for that matter.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Specifications
|PRICE||$24,135/$24,260 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||1.6L DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4/201 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 195 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback|
|EPA MILEAGE||22/29 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||170.9 x 70.7 x 57.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.5 sec (est)|