2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – A professional driver’s perspective

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT exterior, photo credit: © 2017 Hyundai Motor America
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – A professional driver’s perspective
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About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

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The 2018 Hyundai Elantra is now its third generation. Joining the Elantra and Elantra Sport compact sedan lineup this year is the GT Sport in a hatchback configuration, previously not available in Canada.

The GT Sport model comes with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic with paddle shifters or a 6-speed manual. All GT Sport models are equipped with the 1.6L turbo charged 4-cylinder engine as compared to the normally aspirated 2.0L that rides in the regular GL and GLS trims. The top of the line GT is the Sport Ultimate DCT (automatic 7-speed) with a base price of $30,499.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Handling Characteristics

The GT Sport versions of the 2018 Hyundai Elantra have a sportier tuned suspension and handling characteristics than the other Elantra trims. The 1.6L turbo engine with 201-hp (195 lb-ft of torque) is quick enough on the highway, but not the most responsive on acceleration. The bigger differences to the regular Elantra lie in the chassis that has been upgraded to include a multilink rear suspension.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT interior, photo credit: © 2017 Hyundai Motor America

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT interior, photo credit: © 2017 Hyundai Motor America

The advertised “Nürburgring” tuning includes improved springs, dampers and of course bigger brakes. Taking this car on a fast and twisty bit of road identifies some of its strengths and of course, a couple of its less desirable handling features.

Acceleration is reasonable but you quickly run out of revs with the car’s current gear ratios – especially in the 2nd through 4th gears where you hope to have just a little more range to fully pull you out of the corners.

The car is front wheel drive and with 201-hp, torque steer is not going to be a problem except perhaps on a wet road. The car does exhibit some understeer with aggressive cornering as well as a bit more lean due the soft suspension. It’s often a trade off between comfortable ride and more aggressive handling. Then GT Sport is more focused on comfort but still provides enough sporty handling for most drivers. The bigger brakes and firm brake pedal felt solid even with rapid deceleration from higher speeds.

Of course, the majority of driving is typically done on city and perhaps 400 series highways. The GT Sport manual transmission provides for smooth shifting with a clutch that is easy on the leg.

Comfort and Styling

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT interior, photo credit: © 2017 Hyundai Motor America

This is a good-looking hatchback, both inside and out. My test car came in the Marina Blue color that I thought matched the style of the car well. The car comes with 18” wheels, a rear spoiler and LED lights front and rear. The all leather interior with color stitching and color trim on the dash gives the car a nice sporty look. Driver comfort is provided through the 8-way power seat, adjustable steering wheel and ample steering wheel controls. The car is equipped with an 8” color touch screen, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple Play as well as an AM/FM/XM/MP3 6-speaker audio system.

As mentioned earlier, the car has a true sporty feel but is also a comfortable ride. My wife and I also enjoyed the interior roominess of the car, the large sunroof as well as the practicality of the hatchback design that makes the trip to the grocery store more fun.

Safety

As expected these days, the car is equipped with a variety of safety management systems including:

  1. Vehicle stability and traction control
  2. ABS and brake assist
  3. Blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert
  4. 7 airbags
  5. Rear view camera

The GT Sport Ultimate (automatic only) adds a few more safety features including autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection as well as lane keep assist and lane departure warning.

Things to consider

Like many vehicles in the Hyundai lineup, even the base trim comes reasonably well equipped. The new GT (hatchback) is a great looking vehicle. The Sport trims in either the manual or automatic versions are very nicely appointed, equipped and best of all, a comfortable ride. I chose to test out the manual transmission (I’m still a bit old school and enjoy working through the gears up and down) but I expect that the automatic with paddle shifters would be great fun as well. Hyundai has done a good job of positioning the style, features and pricing of the 2018 Hyundai Elantra against the competition but falls just a little bit short on performance to completely satisfy the weekend “trackies”.

For more automotive reviews and insights, follow me on Twitter @redy2rol.

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