Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT front
Photo by Curtis Reesor
The abbreviation GT immediately means something to car people. Standing for Gran Turismo or Grand Tourer, the letters often conjure up images of high-performance machines: Ford Mustang GT, Pontiac GTO, Volkswagen GTI, for example. But how about a Hyundai Elantra? Probably not the first car you might think of. The 2013 Elantra GT is a five-door hatchback, just like the original Elantra GT, which was offered beginning in 2001. And much like that early model Hyundai, there’s little in the way of GT-style performance from this Elantra despite the name.

Powering the Elantra GT is the same DOHC 1.8-liter four-cylinder found in the other Elantra bodystyles. It makes 148 horsepower and 131 ft./lbs. of torque. Power is adequate, but that’s about it, and the engine is somewhat loud. Our test model came equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTROINC and Active ECO systems. The transmission shifts smoothly, and you can manually shift it if you’d like. The one thing I did not like, however, was the power delivery. The gas pedal feels stuff, making it herky-jerky to drive in traffic, sort of that on-or-off feeling, which makes it difficult to drive smoothly.

Driving the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT
Photo by Curtis Reesor
In the handling department, the GT again does not live up to its namesake. Simply put, the sport suspension feels too soft and the tuning just feels off. When pushed into a sweeping corner, the chassis seems to get twisted up, unsettled, and a bit floaty. There are three steering, which are selectable via the button on the steering wheel itself. You can choose from normal, comfort, and sport modes. I found the sport mode to be too heavy and sensitive. Normal seemed felt a bit twitchy still, too. The comfort mode was definitely the most natural feeling. Regardless, none of the settings helped the lack of on-center feel. I always felt like I was correcting the car, even while diving in a straight line. All of this leads to a GT namesake that doesn’t feel very sporting in the curves. The car is happiest on the open highway, where its soft suspension rides favorably. Additionally, the cabin remains quiet at speed, with little wind noise and moderate road noise.

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT interior is comfortable and stylish
Photo by Curtis Reesor
The good news is that the Elantra GT’s interior is its high note. The materials are of high quality, and the design is modern if not somewhat futuristic. Like I mentioned in my Elantra Coupe review, the interior is comfortable, and the ergonomics are good. The standout feature is the panoramic roof. Press the button to open it, and the fabric interior sunshade parts in the center, and retracts to both ends of the vehicle. It’s really cool, as evidenced in this video.

You can choose to just open the fabric up for light, or have the front section of the roof slide back to review a good sized opening to let the sun in. Definitely one of the sweeter sunroofs I’ve seen. Also of particular note is the bass-rich sound system that really kicks. A comfortable interior, great sound system, and awesome sliding glass roof equate to a fun combination. I just wish the car had about 50 more horsepower and a more sporting suspension. One could look to the aftermarket for a different suspension system. And why isn’t this car available with the 200 horsepower engine from the Veloster? Now that would make this a true GT vehicle.

Unfortunately, like its Coupe cousin, the Elantra GT did not deliver in the fuel economy department. Rated at 27 city, 37 highway, we could only eek out a disappointing 24.9 MPG in mostly city driving. This was better than the 22 MPG out of the Coupe, however.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT rear
Photo by Curtis Reesor
Our Elantra GT tester came in at $23,015, which includes the $775 destination fee. Overall, a pretty sound deal. I feel this is the kind of car that looks good, is comfortable, but just doesn’t have the driving experience to back it up. Frankly, for most people, it’d probably make a fine daily driver or commuter. It’s certainly practical enough, and it’s likely you could hit the city MPG pretty easily (my commute is very hilly). Despite its GT moniker, it isn’t much of a driver’s car compared to similar vehicles like the Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3, or Ford Focus. Plus, I like it much more than the impractical Coupe. It’s definitely worth a drive, but just don’t expect too much GT from this GT. Now about that Veloster turbo engine …

1 comment:

Ducati Scotty said...

I took a ride one night with Andy and pretty much agree on all counts. The fit and finish are great, the interior is top notch, and the sunroof is unique and second to none. Still, even from the passenger seat I could tell the handling was poor. Too bad, this was on my short list.