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Test Drive: Hyundai Elantra GT

Hot hatches are a beloved segment by almost everyone who loves cars. But the reality is, it is the lukewarm hatches that sell. Sure everyone loves a Golf GTI but it is the Prius that flies off the lot. Well, this is great news for the Hyundai Elantra GT.

There are a lot of things to love about the Elantra GT so let’s get to those first. #1. It’s a looker! I honestly think this is the best looking Hyundai out there. And as any Saab or Prius owner will tell you, pretty isn’t always the hatch’s strong suit. So there’s that. Also, it’s got great storage:

It passed the (kinda) patented Motorhead Mama Trader Joe’s test, as well as my family’s Target and Costco adventures.  Happily, Hyundai has embraced the simple brilliance of 60/40 split seats, which is a game changer.

Less thrilling is the way this baby drives. I drove the GT with automatic transmission, which isn’t the Sport– who has a manual transmission and thus, more to love.  I’m not going to go as far to say that the Elantra doesn’t drive well. It’s fine. The brakes are solid, the handling is good and the acceleration will make many people happy. Just don’t get into this thing thinking you’re driving a GTI killer, because you’re not. In fact, the GTI just flew by and flipped you off.  But if you’re just going the store with no intention of canyon carving, what do you care?

A few other things to love about the Elantra GT: standard Android Auto & Apple CarPlay & a sticker price of under $20k. But what is a bummer is the lack of safety technology. Hyundai’s got a fine suite of tools that they could offer on this vehicle (which includes smart cruise control with start and stop, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert), but you have to move up to the GT Sport (and a much heftier price tag) to get them. This doesn’t seem to serve those of you that want safety but don’t need sporty.  Oh well. Should this keep you from buying the Elantra GT? Hell no. Just know what you’re getting into and take a good, hard look at the competition before you buy– the entire VW Golf collection and my sweet, little Nissan Leaf have plenty to offer as well.

A few final thoughts: the IIHS did give the Elantra GT a five star safety rating, so if you’re considering this fuel-efficient vehicle for a new driver and want to take advantage of some of the great incentives that Hyundai is offering right now, you may be a smart cookie. And there’s always that unbelievable Hyundai warrantee to boot!


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