By on August 30, 2018

Image: Hyundai

Hyundai’s Elantra GT is an oft-overlooked compact hatch, muscled aside by Honda’s compact king Civic, the handling (and snob) appeal of Volkswagen’s Golf and GTI, and further threatened by the impending release of a Toyota Corolla hatch that doesn’t suck.

Still, it remains a compelling vehicle with a pleasing design and an available Sport variant. All well and good, but the shrinking compact car segment means competition grows fiercer by the year. Having just refreshed Elantra sedan for 2019, Hyundai wants more eyes on the Elantra GT. It has a plan.

Time will tell if it’s enough of one, however. As the Korean brand readies the hot-shot N version of its second-generation Veloster, the Elantra GT stands to gain an N Line sibling.

VIN decoder documents obtained by AutoGuide show an N Line Elantra GT arriving in the U.S. for the 2019 model year. It shouldn’t come as a shock that there’s no new engine listed for the Elantra GT line, just the naturally aspirated base 2.0-liter four and upgrade turbo 1.6-liter. Hyundai brass never intended the N Line to be anything other that the existing sportiest model with (potential) handling tweaks and some go-fast add-ons. Something between an appearance package and a full-on “hot” variant, but leaning strongly towards the former.

Image: Hyundai

Chassis tuning is probably out of the question, upgraded wheels and rubber are not. Braking might see improvement.

In Europe, the Elantra GT goes by the name i30, and its N Line variant dons a slightly more aggressive front fascia and 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as minor bits like a trim-specific seats and a shift knob that telegraph that the vehicle is something sort of special. That model goes the Euro engine route, with the 201 hp, 195 lb-ft 1.6L gas turbo found in the Elantra GT Sport remaining out of bounds. Over here, a six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch unit greet buyers.

As there’s been no spy shots sent our way, we turn to Europe for these images of the i30 N Line. The American-market Elantra GT N Line should appear this fall, probably at the Los Angeles auto show.

Elantra sales, encompassing both the sedan and hatch, rose 4 percent in the U.S. last month, with volume over the first seven months of 2018 just 58 cars shy of last July’s YTD figure.

Image: Hyundai

[Images: Hyundai]

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24 Comments on “Hyundai Prepared to Juice Elantra GT Sales, Without Adding Extra Juice...”


  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Everybody wants to chase the high-dollar buyer, but they would add more sales if they had a base “SE” version of the hatch, just like the sedan line has.

  • avatar
    iddqd

    looks great- i guess they don`t even offer this one here in germany…

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I just bought another, above-unnamed competitor to the Elantra GT- Mazda 3 Hatch. Honestly, I didn’t even test-drive the Hyundai. The Mazda was comparable in price and size, and drove sweetly. I had test driven the Civic and Cruze hatches, but didn’t care for the turbocharged engine paired with the manual transmission.

    The main turn-off on the Hyundai (other than the sort-of, almost, but not-quite Audi-esque grille) was the fuel economy. EPA rates it 31 mpg Highway, and real-world numbers on Fuelly were in the high 20’s. I’m averaging mid-30’s in the 3.

    The Mazda seems well put-together and the interior is a notch above everything else except maybe the VW Golf. Mazda just builds sporty cars for folks who aren’t badge-conscious, and who prefer to not have to deal with German maintenance cycles.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      You know how this goes. Guys say
      – mazda is outdated
      – other cars in segment are quicker
      – space is a problem
      – mazda has no turbo

      Then, they drive it and say, “WOW! I still like it”. Because precision with which Mazda3 drives is unbeatable. and real world MHGs are great in Mazdas I owned.

      What I don’t like is that now it comes from Mexico (mostly) and the gauge cluster. I actually like the dash in this GT better than Mazda. Civic is the worst one in this regards.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I was almost set on getting a Mazda3 GT hatch. It looked great, fantastic interior, had nice features, steering was perfect… except for that one thing, road noise. The roar coming from the tires over anything but smooth pavement was horrendous. I ultimately decided I wanted something more exciting and went with a used FiST. Even the FiST is quieter and it is based on a $12k car, come on Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Ubermensch,

        you shot yourself in the foot. ” The roar coming from the tires…” – you said this yourself. Mazda usually comes with Bridgestones. And mine ’10 and ’11 were same way. But while ago I found that Pirelli P4 tires are great handlers, fairly priced and low in noise. I have both of my ‘3 wearing them now, and they are not noisy at all. In your hatch, another issue that rear wheel wells are pretty much inside interior. Sedan insulates it better.

      • 0 avatar
        mechimike

        My previous daily driver was an ’83 Merc 240D. The Mazda 3 is like an isolation chamber by comparison. Road noise at 80mph is less than the idle clatter on the Merc.

        I guess everyone’s got their own standard of reference.

        I, too, wasn’t thrilled with the fact that every 3 I could find was an ‘M’ code (hecho en Mexico) car with about 5% US content. But I vote with my wallet, and until some automaker wants to build a better car in los Estados Unidos, this was my vote.

        The digital tach on the 3 is straight outta the 80’s, but it’s relatively unobtrusive, and I actually kinda dig it. The rest of the infotainment is straightforward and unobtrusive and intuitive. Even the voice-command is usually pretty accurate.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Until they put a 2.0 turbo in it for North America, it will go nowhere. Trim? Maybe get a few extra sales, but nothing else.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    QUESTION: The license plates in grilles look, is it:

    1. Great etc.
    2. Very bad/stupid etc.
    3. Neutral

    Vote now and vote often.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Much rather have gotten the i30N than the still awkward-looking Veloster-N.

    For what it is, the N-line is fine only if Hyundai added some of the suspension upgrades that the i30N has (even if only from the lower i30N variant).

    There’s still a chance that Hyundai may decide to bring the fastback version of the i30N over to the States.

    In conjunction w/ that, Kia also needs to bring over the new Proceed as the “warm” Forte hatch/shooting brake.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I thought, GT1.6T Sport had independent suspension in the back, vs GT2L. And if N is based on former – there ya go. You’ve got your suspension upgrade

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The IRS is pretty much the only thing in common.

        The suspension for the i30N (even for the lower N variant) is far different from that for the 1.6T GT.

        That’s why the N is more fun to drive than the Type-R, but the GT Sport isn’t as fun as the Si.

        Not expecting Hyundai to add all the suspension bits from even the lower end N (as would want to keep it a certain price-point), but need some of it to make the N-line more engaging to drive than the GT Sport.

  • avatar
    motogrin

    Hyundai dropped the ball on this gen of the Elantra GT. Bland and unimaginative from every angle. Looks even duller in person. Passed one on the highway the other day, just shook my head, zero boldness, almost invisible. They really missed an opportunity to differentiate them selves in this category. I’m sure it’s competent. But totally uninspired exterior design. Volkswagen gets away with the conservative lines of the Golf/GTI and Honda goes wacky in the transformer direction. Plenty of room between to distinguish your product. Hyundai chose invisible. Maybe they’ll get their groove back in the next generation.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I think it is designed to go after the Golf on it’s home turf, hence the bland and Golf-like derivative styling.

    • 0 avatar
      bobdod04

      I think this is very much subjective. Not everyone wants to stand out and this is why the golf/gti do so well, in spite of the VW and reliability reputation. I own a 2018 Elantra GT Sport, and the “under the radar” design was important in my buying decision. The availability of a stop/go radar cruise, active lane keeping, cooled seats, and the rest of the tech right out of the Genesis make this a killer deal compared to every other warm hatch. The car is fun to drive, accelerates quicker than almost any car I need to pass on my commute, and is incredibly roomy for its size (can fit 4 adults and still fit into tiny parking spots in the city). Fuel economy is not as good as others in this class, but I still get a combined 32mpg on my 50/50 highway/city commute. This is about as good as I got in my Mini, and this car is way better in every conceivable way, short of the Mini’s crazy good steering feel. The GT Sport isn’t as sharp, but its surprisingly good, especially for the price.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Is this how you say “Golf R-Line” in Korean?

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    The i30N has 2.0 Liters with 247 HP, an e-diff that controls torque without applying the brakes and electronic dampers that put it well above the GTI, somewhere between that and a Golf R.

    The US Ns to date don’t have any of this. Hyundai’s N-Line is going to be as much a joke as Audi’s S-Line or the little M Sport accouterments you can slap on to your pedestrian BMW for a few extra grand.

    Think of it as a 91 Sentra SE.

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