What are they?
These are two new variations on Hyundai's nicely selling Elantra. They are practical, reasonably priced alternatives to compact competitors. You already know the Elantra sedan; Hyundai has sold more than 250,000 since the car's U.S. debut. Now we get the Elantra coupe and the GT. The GT is a hatchback version of the platform. Elsewhere you will read about the Hyundai Veloster, the crazy, wildly styled three-and-half-door very sporty cousin that also shares the Elantra platform. The coupe and GT versions, though sporty, put more emphasis on practicality than the wacky Veloster.
The GT is a five-door hatch on sale now in Europe as the i30. Interestingly, the wheelbase and the overall length are shorter on the GT five-door than on the sedan.
The coupe is a three-door version of the Elantra platform with a swoopy rear roofline and a fastback profile that gives it the same racy appeal as the Honda Crosstour, the BMW X6 and maybe the Pontiac Aztek.
Both Elantras are powered by 1.8-liter dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing) 148-hp, 131-lb-ft inline-fours driving the front wheels through your choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Inside is plenty of room for real adults, though considerably less so in the back seat of the coupe. The GT had an abbreviated hatch area, but what it lacked in length it made up for in depth. Storage areas and cupholders abounded throughout.
What are the cars like to drive?
Each gets its own suspension damper tuning unique from the sedan. Both the coupe and GT (and the Veloster) have a torsion-beam rear suspension with an integrated antiroll bar. We felt that the coupe was a little softer and a little bit more fun behind the wheel. Neither was what you'd call sporty, though. They plowed along understeering and leaning through corners until there was a bump or a pothole, at which time the rear end would take a playful little leap sideways just to make sure you were paying attention. The electric power steering offers three settings that adjust weight, on-center feel and torque-angle build. We tried them all on winding roads and were hard-pressed to feel the difference.
Peak power of 148 horses was good enough to move the 2,745-pound GT and more than enough for the 2,687-pound coupe (weights vary depending on content) around as much as you'd reasonably expect them to move. We estimate 0 to 60 mph would come up in a respectable seven seconds. The variable valve timing was particularly wide in the range it allowed and made for a nice, useable torque band, enough that we began to wonder whether some of those six gears might have been there just to impress the EPA.
Speaking of which, the GT gets 27 hwy/39 city/31 combined mpg with the manual transmission and 28/39/32 mpg with the automatic. The coupe returns 29/40/33 mpg with the manual and 28/40/32 mpg with the automatic. Brace yourself to see those 40-mpg numbers blasted all over the advertising and marketing for the cars.
Do I want one?
Sporty hatch drivers might choose the Mazda 3 or the Volkswagen Golf over the Elantra GT. Coupe thrill seekers might like the Honda Civic Si. Of course, you can juggle options and payment plans all over the place, but cash-conscious buyers could find that the Hyundais wind up being your bargain choice. Pricing ranges from $18,220 for the base coupe to $22,920 for a nicely optioned GT.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe and GT
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $18,220
Powertrain: 148-hp, 131-lb-ft, 1.8-liter I4; FWD, six-speed manual
Curb Weight: 2,687 lb (coupe), 2,745 lb (GT)
0-60 MPH: 7 sec (AW est)
Fuel Economy: 33 mpg (coupe), 31 mpg (GT)