Hatches are hot prospects right now. Not that they are sexy, though some owners would beg to differ with us on that. And these hot hatches may not have the most horsepower and the racy exotic engines under their hoods. No, these hatch backs are hot as in really, really popular. Did we say really, really popular?
While hatch backs have been quite popular in Europe they have had a so go of it here in the States. However that is changing, and one hatch that is currently gaining in popularity is the Hyundai Elantra GT. Without a doubt Hyundai, as a brand, has been on fire for a few years now with a steady growth in sales that all car companies would love to have.
This year the Elantra GT received enhancements to the sporty styling, interior accents and snappy handling. While it may not be a powerhouse with gobs of horsepower and torque, this little hatch is attractive and offers a great deal for those not so affluent buyers who desire an attractive ride that is comfortable, versatile and reliable. Another attractive virtue is that the 2016 Elantra GT has a starting price under $20,000.
The five door configuration is quite European-isc for good reason because this styling is considered sporty, capable and fashionable. Having to compete with such mainstays of the category as Volkswagen’s Golf, Ford’s Focus RS and the Mazda 3, the Elantra GT had to evoke an emotional first impression.
While the GT shares engines and transmissions and front end bits with other Elantra models the GT sits on its own wheel base with its own rear suspension and most of the body panels are solely GT. The larger front grille and menacing low brow of the sloping hood and demon like headlight moduals give the GT an aggressive “I’m tough” attitude.
The character line that runs from the headlights rearward add a swooping upward fender flare at the front wheels. And, as it runs along the doors conveys a high belt line adding to the Elantra GT’s substance. The steep raking windshield is large and aids in good visibility from the driver’s seat. The sloping roof gives a bit of a fastback design to the rear hatch.
There are two areas that are most important once the exterior styling grabs your attention, those being the interior and the powertrain. To many owners both are important equally. To other one may take precedence over the other, depending on your wants and needs. The Elantra GT designers gave the interior a modern swipe with a dual cockpit configuration. Dividing the driver and passenger is a center stack anchored by a large display screen and climate controls which are accented by winged vents with tails that run down into the center console ending at the shifter.
Hyundai has loaded the Elantra GT with standard features that only vehicles deemed more luxurious get. The sound system consists of a 172-watt AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six-speakers and iPod®/USB/auxiliary input jacks. Bluetooth hands-free interface with voice recognition are also standard equipment. The GT buyer also gets standard heated front seats, driver selectable steering mode, a cabin air filter in the ventilation system and heated outside mirrors. Also included in the standard feature list are two features some take for granted. However, both tilt and telescoping adjustments for the steering wheel make a world of difference when attempting to find that perfect driving position. The GT also gets steering wheel mounted cruise control and audio controls. Heck, the 2016 Elantra GT even gets a cooled glove compartment. That’s a long list of features for a vehicle that is generally considered an economy car.
This brings us to the economy side of the Elantra GT. Beyond the starting price for this fully equipped vehicle the four-cylinder engine offers up as much as 33 miles per gallon on the highway and 24 mpg in the city. During our drive we maintained an average of 28.9 mpg and as you loyal readers know we are not easy of the accelerator pedal.
The normally aspirated (we would love to see a turbo version) 2.0-liter gasoline engine produces 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft. of torque. This is about average for this category and if it is coupled to the six-speed manual transmission rather than the six-speed automatic the GT feels sporty and responsive. The automatic will, no doubt, be the more popular choice and isn’t a detriment even though it just takes a little of the responsiveness from the throttle.
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT is fun to drive through any twisting mountain road. Plus, the Elantra GT is well appointed making it a comfortable and accommodating ride in any environment. Front wheel drive pulls the GT through the corners so this Elantra induces more fun a lower speeds. In these days of the average vehicle purchase price over thirty grand the entry level price of the Elantra GT brings this fun little hatch into a much clearer perspective for a greater number of drivers.