With the Winter Olympics held in South Korea, we’ve seen how much progress they’ve made in the world of sports. They’ve also made huge leaps in the automotive field. The Hyundai Elantra is a serious competitor among compacts, with a sporty design, roomy cabin, and abundant features. Following a 2017 revamp of the Elantra lineup, the compact car gets a sporty new hatchback model. The new Elantra hatch offers greater cabin space, more premium-looking finishes, and the GT Sport’s suspension offers improved driving dynamics.
This weekend, we drove the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Hatchback with a manual gearbox.
Hyundai introduced the Elantra GT Sport Hatchback for the 2018 model year. A new SEL trim level takes the place of the previous SE with a Popular Equipment Package.
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Hatchback ($23,250) comes standard with LED headlights, an electronic parking brake, upgraded gauges, leather upholstery, an eight-inch display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a rearview camera. It also features 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth. Blind-spot detection is also standard. Hyundai’s Elantra GT includes a sunroof and heated front seats, along with a multi-link rear suspension and bigger brakes. Total MSRP including destination: $24,260.
Stepping inside, Elantra GT feels bigger than a compact car should with interior dimensions approaching that of a mid-size vehicle. The fit and finish is better in the GT trim, and it gets heated leather seats for extra comfort. Little things like a push-button start and the larger, eight-inch display make a difference in giving it a more upscale feel.
The leather-trimmed front seats in the GT are comfortable, with better bolstering on the cushions. This Sport model features deeper bucket seats that kept us planted during more spirited driving this weekend. Most controls and the touchscreen angle toward the driver for easier use when on the road.
There’s plenty of legroom in the back of this compact hatch, but of course, seats aren’t as comfortable as up front. Passengers will ride a bit lower for extra headroom, but you might feel too closed in for those long-distance jaunts. Rear legroom is an inch tighter in a GT Hatchback versus the Elantra sedan. Cargo space in the Hatchback has grown to 24.9 cubic feet, expanding to 55.4 cubic feet with the 60/40 seatbacks folded flat.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Hatchback is powered by a peppy, 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder, producing 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a sweet 6-speed manual gearbox. Hatchbacks with the six-speed manual are EPA-rated at 22/29 city/highway and 25 combined mpg.
You wouldn’t think 201 horsepower would get any driving enthusiast excited, but the Elantra GT offers up an experience that’s high on the fun-to-drive meter. When the turbo kicked in, even at altitude, we were able to power up the mountain roads west of Denver with little concern for wanting more “oomph.”
On the open road, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Hatchback felt composed, relatively quiet, solid, and refined for a compact car priced under $25,000. Only on seriously rough surfaces does the suspension reveal its limitations. But for the curves, the GT Sport gets a multi-link independent rear suspension, providing greater body-motion control for the tight mountain corners. With its light, yet precise steering, the GT Hatchback kept us firmly planted on the pavement.
Driving enthusiasts will want the six-speed manual. It fits well with the 1.6-liter turbo powerplant and is most enjoyable to drive. As an alternative to the manual shifter, the turbo can mate with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. With the automatic transmission, the Elantra GT Sport Hatchback would be a good commuter for urban dwellers.
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Hatchback delivers a good value for a sporty compact. The cabin features more luxury than the lower trims, greater utility, and an enjoyable driving experience overall. Hyundai’s impressive warranty makes it even more competitive in this segment too.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy