There’s an emerging trend of compact cars with a bit of sportiness added to them. Not quite compact sport like a Civic Si or VW GTI but something more along the lines of a Civic Hatchback Sport. A slightly quicker, sportier looking version of the base car but not quite on the level of a hot hatchback. The latest offering is the Hyundai Elantra GT Sport. The GT is the hatchback version of the Elantra and the Sport designation indicates several styling and mechanical changes.
The standard Elantras drive fairly well. The steering has a good weight to it and the car feels competent overall. The steering doesn’t change for the Sport. However, there are two important upgrades. First, the engine. It has Hyundai’s 1.6 liter turbocharged four cylinder with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It’s an engine that Hyundai and even Kia has been using in several of their cars such as the Forte (the Elantra’s twin), the Tucson, and the Veloster. It’s a punchy little engine. Full torque comes in at just 1500 rpm and really gives the car a meaty feel. It’s not the smoothest engine in the world but it holds power pretty well up until redline.
The second upgrade is the rear suspension; instead of a torsion beam the Sport gets an independent multi-link suspension. This allows the rear wheels to have better wheel articulation, especially over bumps mid-corner, and increased rear grip. Put it all together, you have a fun little compact car with a great sporty flair. It still has a bit of understeer on turn in, made worse once you give it more power. There’s no limited slip differential so the inside wheel spins its power away, especially in the rain. The steering, although it has good weight, is quite lacking in feel and precision with a noticeable dead spot on center. The brakes are strong without being overly touchy. The whole car feels distinctly better than a standard Elantra but not overly so and surely, that’s the point. Our test car came equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. It’s amazing that you can get a dual-clutch at this price. The shifts themselves are quite quick but the it’s not the best at predicting what gear you want in automatic mode. Even in manual mode, upshifts can be delayed if you’re not on full throttle and the transmission will still automatically upshift when you get close to redline. It will not hold the gear and let you bounce off the rev limiter. However, if you’re just cruising, it is very smooth. It’s surprisingly quiet inside and the suspension soaks up bumps fairly well.
The Elantra GT Sport comes standard with many features. Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert, LED headlights and taillights, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, leather heated seats and push button start, just to name a few. Our test car came with the optional Sport Tech Package which is, unfortunately, only available when you get the dual clutch transmission. This package includes lots of goodies such as the panoramic sunroof, the upgraded Infinity Sound System, Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Lane Keep Assist. It’s an impressive list of upgrades and definitely worth getting. It’s just a shame the package is not available with the manual transmission.
The interior is classic Hyundai. It’s a clean, simple design and the materials used feel pretty good quality as well. There’s lot of soft touch materials where it matters and the gauges are clean and crisp. The fit and finish is very impressive.
I have to be honest about the exterior styling. The back is very attractive and incorporates the rear hatch very nicely. However, I don’t think the front is attractive as the Elantra Sport sedan. The headlights are a bit too angular for the lines of the car. The biggest thing that bothers me is the fact that the DRL’s, although LED, are amber, rather than white. It makes it look like you’re driving around with your parking lights on the whole time.
The Elantra GT Sport brings a nice twist to the otherwise vanilla compact car segment. It brings the practicality, sensibility, and refinement of standard Elantras and gives it a little extra something for consumers that may want a little bit more performance and style, without going full hot hatchback. It’s a great car for a first time buyer or someone that wants a little more enjoyment out of their daily commute.
Extremely Well Equipped
Only Dual Clutch In The Class
A Little Pricey
Specs: Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-Valve Turbocharged I4 Drivetrain: FWD
Power: 201hp @ 6,000 rpm Torque: 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 26/32/28 MPG (DCT) Wheelbase: 104.3 in Curb Weight: 3,155 lbs (Sport, DCT, Premium) Base Price: $19,350 Price as Tested: $29,210 (incl. dest.)