This one’s a bit of a bummer, though it’s not surprising. The 2021 model year will bring a Hyundai model lineup bursting at the seams with crossovers, but there’s apparently no room for a lowly compact hatchback.
The sun in that photo is setting, not rising.
Offered since the early 2000s, the five-door version of the Elantra sedan (actually a wholly different car underneath) has met its end in the North American market.
Though it plays second fiddle to more popular hot hatches from Honda and Volkswagen, Hyundai’s Elantra GT is not without a generous list of attributes. Space, inoffensive styling, and value play a large role here, even if the N Line variant (formerly Sport) can’t match the output of its boosted rivals.
For the coming model year, Hyundai aims to ensure the Elantra GT attracts more eyeballs.
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.
I’m not joking. The Supertramp song in the title did indeed start playing on SiriusXM’s Classic Rewind station as I pressed the start button after another long day at the office. I’m sure “Take The Long Way Home” and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” are the most often-played afternoon drive time songs for classic rock stations nationwide, but it seemed serendipitous.
I didn’t have to be home right after work. It was a dry, sunny, albeit brisk afternoon. And I had a willing partner – the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – fitted with a proper six-speed manual gearbox. Instead of turning south at the roundabout toward home, I turned north, dropped a gear, and followed the meander of the river. Magically, I’d forgotten about the day I’d spent glued to spreadsheets.
Unfortunately, the new Hyundai i30 N is, by all accounts, a terrific hot hatchback.
The i30, you’ll recall, is essentially the Hyundai Elantra GT that’s beginning to arrive in U.S. showrooms, a pleasantly tasty car in Sport trim.
But Hyundai’s new performance N sub-brand, headed up by former BMW dynamics sage Albert Biermann, is not yet America-bound. And while European critics broadly praise the i30 N — not just as “a pretty stunning first effort from Hyundai’s N division” but “up there with the best” competitors — and celebrate the availability of yet another viable performance car, the car will not make it across the pond.
Back in late June, Hyundai’s Canadian division bundled myself and a group of fellow journalists into a Quebec hotel, then proceeded to explain how crossovers are eating the compact car’s lunch.
The 2018 Elantra GT, the company’s representatives said, almost didn’t happen because of the unstoppable popularity of high-riding, cavernous utility vehicles. Hyundai’s U.S. crew apparently needed convincing that the next-generation GT was even worth the trouble. Essentially just an overseas-market i30 with a name change, the new GT’s North American salvation came from the fact few buyers opted for an Elantra-badged hatchback in recent years. Far more buyers take home a Ford Focus or Mazda 3 with five doors.
And so, having been assured that a much-improved GT — a hatchback with more cargo room, more available power, greater handling and sporting prowess, and cohesive, flirting-with-premium looks — would boost overall Elantra sales, we’ve come to this. An Elantra GT, now with more GT.
In GT Sport trim, the vastly reshaped, fourth-generation compact hatch dons the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder from the Elantra Sport, calls dibs on its athletic cousin’s sporty transmissions, and goes to town delivering value-packed driving excitement for the commuter who likes taking the long (and twisty) way home. This tester, however, is no Elantra GT Sport. Nope. It’s the plain ol’ Elantra GT — the Elantra GT you’ll see far more often than the throaty, scrappy Sport, probably while its owner performs the mundane cargo-hauling duties Hyundai so desperately wants its buyers to attempt.
Even in base form, Hyundai hopes the Elantra GT’s sporting abilities and generous cargo volume whispers a siren song would-be subcompact crossover buyers simply can’t ignore. Is it a convincing come-on?
Hyundai, as we told you last month, has a pretty competent little hatchback on offer for 2018: the newly restyled, revamped, and (Hyundai hopes) reinvigorated Elantra GT. Sporting a mature European-designed body made possible by the overseas i30, the 2018 Elantra GT spices up its roomy hatch bonafides with available power — you’ll find 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque from the Elantra Sport-sourced 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder in the GT Sport.
Its base powerplant isn’t necessarily a slouch, either. (You’ll be able to read a TTAC review of the GT next week.) A direct-injection 2.0-liter generating 162 hp and 150 lb-ft puts the entry-level Elantra sedan’s powerplant to shame, and the cargo room — well, Hyundai’s all about that GT cargo volume. Why else would it call the model “a viable alternative to small CUVs for buyers desiring more fun-to-drive characteristics and greater utility” in the preamble to its price list?
The 2018 price floor for Hyundai’s front-wheel-drive CUV fighter isn’t much higher than last year’s, and those optional ponies won’t exactly break the bank. You can improve a Korean car 12 ways to Sunday, but you still can’t charge more than the Japanese or Germans.
After four years of development, Hyundai is ushering a new entry into the hot hatchback category with its i30 N. Based on the newest incarnation of the family friendly i30, known throughout North America as the Elantra GT, the N badge separates it as a serious performance model. Hyundai appears to be taking direct aim at the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI, both through the N’s performance and styling — which seems to be a handsome amalgamation of the pair.
Available in two trims, the base model i30 N provides 246 horsepower while the performance package quipped version bumps that number up to 271 hp. Both use a turbocharged 2.0-liter and six-speed manual transmission and, according to Hyundai, can manage 0-60 times in the low six-second range. Power is sent to the front tires and only to the front tires, with an electronic limited slip differential to keep things manageable in the corners.
It’s a legitimate hot hatch and Hyundai’s first if you discount the Veloster — which you definitely may.
Years back, a neighbor of mine worked as an electrician’s apprentice while we both occupied different corners of a sketchy four-plex. Good guy. When an emergency arose, especially if the emergency was a sudden lack of tape, this was your man.
Anyway, with barely enough cash to buy beer on weekends, let alone a half-decent used pickup, the tools of his trade journeyed to the job site in a roomy, economical, and seemingly indestructible four-door liftback. It was, of course, a first-generation Hyundai Elantra GT, only with the contents of a small hardware store filling the area aft of the front seat.
A useful, if tepid, vehicle then, but one far more worthy of the GT moniker now.
The Korean automaker launched the Elantra GT in 2001, and has no intention of dropping the useful compact hatchback from the marketplace anytime soon, even though its U.S. executives required a dose of friendly Canadian persuasion to keep it alive south of the 49th parallel (according to Hyundai Canada brass). The pressure paid off, leaving Americans with yet another option in the “hotter hatch” segment.
No longer is the GT a one-engine affair, nor is it likely to continue as an afterthought in the minds of consumers. For 2018, Hyundai chose to spread the widest possible net with its newly enlarged hatch, hoping to lure would-be buyers away from better-known rivals while offering a sportier alternative to small crossovers.
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.
I may occassionally mock the enthusiast infatuation with wagons and hatchbacks, it’s only because they’re not such a big deal to me. Two-box compact and midsize cars (not crossovers or SUVs) are everywhere in my locale, to the point where they go unnoticed. But this is one worth getting excited about.
The last time we got an Elantra GT was in the early 2000s, when Hyundai brought over a quirky five-door that resembled the Mazda6 hatchback more than the re-badged Hyundai i30 you see here. Now dubbed the Elantra GT (rather than the Elantra Touring of the previous i30), the Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza just got a new challenger in the 5-door compact segment.
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