Chicago 2017: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Drops the Cute Act

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Hyundai lifted the veil on the next-generation Elantra GT today at the Chicago Auto Show, revealing a compact hatch that dispenses with the “cute little car” template.

For 2018, the Elantra GT grows in all the proportions that matter, putting forward a more mature design that — Hyundai hopes — looks more expensive than its sticker price. It also offers up more power, if you’re willing to dole out a little more.

Longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model, the 2018 version adopts an upright corporate grille more closely aligned with its sedan cousin, a longer hood, and an uninterrupted character line running the length of the body. Gone are the Mazda 2-like front fender bulges.

Like before, the GT is based on the European-market Hyundai i30. The third generation of that model arrived for the 2017 model year, boasting a greater measure of high-strength steel and structural adhesive to quell any gripes about body stiffness. Hyundai claims a 22-percent increase in rigidity in the new model thanks to a doubling (to 53 percent) of the amount of high-strength steel in the body structure.

Stripped down, the new GT shaves 61 pounds off the weight compared to its predecessor. Despite the vehicle’s upright stance, the new model retains the same 0.30 coefficient of drag as the outgoing model.

On the base GT, power from the standard direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder has fallen from 173 hp on 2017 models to 162 hp for 2018. That suggests Hyundai has tinkered around with the mill’s efficiency. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.

However, to make the GT’s name ring more true, Hyundai has seen fit to add a Sport variant endowed with the turbocharged 1.6-liter four found in the Elantra Sport. In GT Sport guise, the hatch generates the same 201 hp and 195 lb-ft as its four-door sibling, and is available with the same six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

Ticking the Sport box also adds a fully independent multilink rear suspension, 18-inch wheels, and larger brake rotors for and aft. Drivers of vanilla GTs benefit from a rear torsion beam suspension tune and standard 17-inch wheels.

Because buyers tend to choose hatchbacks for a reason, the GT’s cargo capacity has expanded for 2018, though its passenger volume has only budged upwards by half a cubic foot. Cargo capacity grows from 23 cubic feet to 25, while capacity with the rear seat folded down expands from 51 cu. ft. to 55.1. Hyundai expects a large car classification from the EPA for its new hatch.

To boost its value proposition, the GT sees more technology than ever before. A long list of driver assist features are available, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, high beam assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control adopts a start/stop system. Drivers can also choose from the full gamut of smartphone connectivity options.

In a nod to convenience, Hyundai has bundled rear window and side mirror defrost functions into its Blue Link Remote Start feature, allowing drivers to melt the ice, literally, via a smartphone app while relaxing in the cozy confines of their home.

On all GTs, the upgraded AVN 5.0 infotainment unit sees its display screen grow by one inch, while a bird’s-eye view has been added to the navigation system. That screen now rises from the reworked dash, rather than sitting in the middle of the center stack.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT and GT Sport go on sale this summer.

[Images: Hyundai Motor America]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Raevoxx Raevoxx on Feb 10, 2017

    To be fair, the Elantra GT/Touring has had it's own distinctive look for a few generations, now. But I was kind of hoping in a way that the sheetmetal would be brought more in line with the sedan version. I've never cared for the looks of the i30, and liked the Elantra Touring marginally better. -And my car shopping preference this time around was for a hatchback. Which I ended up buying a sedan anyhow, because current hatches are either not to my taste, or are outside of my intended budget. It looks unique, and I was anxious to see it because I think the current Elantra GT is "Okay", but this makes me feel confident still, that my purchase of a '17 sedan was the right one. It's still the more handsome car IMHO. Just wish it had the GDI as a "tweener" engine, with the 6 speed transmission. Much like the Kia Forte does with the EX model, before getting to the 1.6T SX. The DCT is the reason why I didn't spring for the Sport, though the 2.0 Nu engine and 6 speed auto are VERY smooth operators.

  • Greatpaper Greatpaper on Feb 13, 2017

    My regret is not buying a new Elantra touring w/ a stick. I test drove one ,liked it ,but when I returned it had been sold. Dealer never got another stick one. I won't order a car- i gotta sit in it and smell it. I think the new one may be my next car. Any idea when they hit the lots?

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.