2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Road Test Review
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT makes for a stylish, fun and functional compact car
Scores High: Excellent ride and handling dynamics, appealing exterior design, solid value
Scores Low: Small engine means small torque, base model well equipped -- but pricey
Total Car Score Analysis
Coming off a North American Car of the Year win, Hyundai has plenty to crow about regarding their compact car – the Elantra. A reputation for value, style and function has given the Elantra 10 percent market share in the compact car category (impressive, given Hyundai’s overall market share of 5 percent). The all-new 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT means to capitalize on this success by introducing a more practical -- and stylish -- 5-door hatchback.
Our recent test drive in the 2013 Elantra GT suggests this car will indeed expand the model line’s appeal, particularly with the Gen X and Gen Y buyers Hyundai is targeting. While Europe is a hotbed of hatchback activity, the 5-door layout of the new Elantra GT means not only increased practicality for U.S. buyers but also improved performance, courtesy of upgraded suspension and steering components over the existing sedan. Unique styling elements, excellent fuel efficiency and compelling technology will further differentiate the Elantra GT from not only the sedan, but from established competitors in this increasingly critical segment.
Because increased fun was as important as increased functionality in the new Elantra GT, Hyundai has styled the hatchback with some aggressive features not seen on the sedan. These include a larger grille with chrome accents, standard fog lights (these are optional on the sedan), a body-colored rear spoiler and reflectors in the lower rear fascia. These elements give the Elantra GT more “pop” than the sedan, and when viewed in profile the GT’s aggressively sloping roofline contributes to not only visual appeal but an impressive 0.30 coefficient of drag.
With the Elantra sedan as the basic starting point, Hyundai modified several elements of the GT’s structure and suspension to improve the hatchback’s driving nature. For instance, the electric power steering settings have been altered to provide increased effort and road feel. There’s even a button on the steering wheel that toggles steering feel between comfort, normal and sport modes. Upgraded steering knuckles, stiffer rear springs and upgraded shocks further improve the GT’s handling performance, as does a new V-Beam rear suspension with an integrated 22-millimeter stabilizer bar. These components are all bolted to a stiffer Elantra body shell that uses increased high-tensile steel for 37% better body rigidity than the previous model.
All these technical elements would mean little if they weren’t reflected in the Elantra GT’s driving dynamics – but they are. A responsive steering system with excellent feedback (particularly in “sport” mode) operates in conjunction with minimal body roll to confidently carry the Elantra GT over twisting roadways. And because the GT’s seats offer more aggressive lateral support than the sedan’s it’s easy (and fun) to carry more speed through corners than one might expect from a compact hatchback.
That speed, however, doesn’t come instantaneously from the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder under the Elantra’s hood. At 148 peak horsepower and 131 pound-feet of peak torque this engine offers more horsepower-per-liter than competitive models. Credit the use of advanced technology, including variable valve and intake control, for the powerplant’s ability to make the most out of 1.8-liters.
But, ultimately, the engine’s small displacement (most competitors use a 2.0-liter or larger 4-cylinder) puts it down on peak torque versus the competition. This is reflected when you stab the throttle and get a somewhat delayed response as the engine revs to reach its power curve. The 6-speed automatic does it’s best to manage this issue, and the available 6-speed manual nearly eliminates it if the driver keeps the engine in the upper rev-band (between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm) where torque is readily available.
This is not a fatal flaw by any means, as the new Elantra GT certainly has adequate power for most drivers most of the time. But it does keep the car from feeling as nimble when accelerating as it feels when turning. The upside of this small engine is big EPA numbers, with ratings of 28 city, 39 highway and 32 mixed miles-per-gallon with the six-speed automatic (27/39/31 MPG for the six-speed manual).
Interior Design and Function
Like the exterior design, the 2013 Elantra GT’s interior is not a simple redo of the sedan. The center stack is narrower, with unique vents and climate controls that reflect its European origins. As previously mentioned the seats are also more aggressively bolstered than the sedan while the optional “Panoramic” sunroof provides a much larger opening. Other interior elements, like the twin-pod gauge cluster, steering wheel buttons and window controls, mirror the sedan, as does the optional push-button engine start on models with the Tech Package. Three interior colors (beige, black and blue) are offered in the Elantra GT to further interest young buyers who like to personalize their car.
The GT’s aggressive roofline, when viewed in profile, suggests minimal cargo space behind the second-row seats. But Hyundai claims 23 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up, 51 cubic feet when they’re folded flat. That’s actually better than much of the competition, as is the total interior cargo volume of 119 cubic feet and best-in-class front and rear shoulder room. Because the rear seats can fold completely flat (once the headrests are removed) the Elantra GT offers a completely level load floor, as well as under-floor storage compartments for increased options when packing for a trip.
Primary Features and Options
Beyond the selectable steering mode, fog lights, under-floor storage and aggressively bolstered front seats already mentioned, every 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT comes with seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), a cooled glovebox, heated front seats, a rear wiper, a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and Hyundai’s Blue Link Telematics. This is on top of Hyundai’s standard 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty that’s included in the Elantra GT’s $19,170 base price (including $775 destination charge).
That price is for a 6-speed manual Elantra GT, but $1,000 adds the 6-speed automatic ($20,170). Two option packages are available. The Style Package adds 17-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, panoramic sunroof, leather seats, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather steering wheel and shifter, power driver’s seat and aluminum pedals for $2,750. The Tech Package adds navigation, an integrated rearview camera (concealed behind the Hyundai emblem), automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control and push-button start with keyless entry for $2,350. Add both packages, plus destination, and you can make a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT cost $25,270.
It’s Perfect For…
U.S. drivers are slowly waking up to the practical advantages of hatchbacks, with younger car buyers on the leading edge of this “discovery.” Hyundai doesn’t expect the 2013 Elantra GT to replace the Elantra sedan as its sales leader. In fact, the company predicts only 10 percent of total Elantra sales will be in GT form. But if these sales can tempt a few Gen X and Gen Y buyers away from the compact hatchback competition, while also giving Hyundai some additional Elantra capacity (sedan production is not keeping up with demand), then everybody wins.
For compact car buyers who need extra cargo capacity but want extra fun when the family isn’t on board, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT combines the two goals in a stylish and well-equipped package.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT with 6-speed automatic
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $19,395
Options on Test Vehicle: Style Package (includes 17-inch alloy wheels, sport tuned suspension, panoramic sunroof, turn signals in side mirrors, leather seats, leather steering sheel and shifter, power driver’s seat with lumbar, aluminum pedals, driver-side one-touch up window -- $2,750), Carpeted Floor Mats ($95), Destination Charge ($775)
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $23,015
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The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.