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2013 Hyundai Elantra GT First Impressions - Auto123

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MONTREAL, Quebec - For the 2013 model year, Hyundai will be serving up not one but three distinct Elantras. The smash-hit sedan will soon be accompanied by a two-door coupe and the GT, a new five-door hatchback that will rival the likes of the Mazda3 Sport, the Ford Focus, the Subaru Impreza, the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback, the Volkswagen Golf and the Kia Forte5.

It will also replace the Elantra Touring wagon, which has done very well in Canada. That’s good or bad news, depending on whose opinion you ask.

The Elantra GT isn’t a new idea; in fact, Hyundai did offer a five-door Elantra from 2002 to 2006. This time, the car is based on the European i30 model; it rides on a slightly different platform as the 2013 Elantra Coupe and Sedan, but nonetheless fits in nicely with the others.

Hyundai Canada is confident that the GT will be a popular choice, and will account for about 25% of total Elantra sales. And this new five-door should serve the Canadian buyer very well.

Slightly smaller than the sedan
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT rides on a shorter wheelbase than the sedan; it is also shorter overall, with a slightly higher roofline. The basic shape is pretty similar to the sedan and coupe, with its prominent crease that flows over the front fender and rises along the car’s flanks, cleverly trying to conceal the door handles.

The front grille treatment, the fog lamp design and the taillights aren’t quite the same, but the family resemblance is undeniable. The base GL is shod with 16” wheels with covers, the mid-grade GLS gets 16” alloys and the top-shelf SE benefits from attractive 17-inchers with chromed inserts. GLS and SE trims also get a power panoramic sunroof, which brightens up the cabin, especially for rear-seat occupants.

Speaking of the cabin, the GT is more or less as spacious as in the sedan, although a 5-foot-11 rear passenger’s noggin was scraping the headliner during our drive, compliments of the sunroof mechanism that eats up a little headroom. The dashboard has a less adventurous design than the sedan and coupe’s, yet still retains an ergonomic layout.

The cargo hold looks small because of the sloping rear window, but you actually get 651 litres of space; fold down the rear seatback, and volume grows to 1,444 litres. That places the Elantra GT among the best cargo-carrying compact five-doors, such as the Impreza and the Lancer Sportback.

The drive
The five-door Elantra is equipped with a 1.8L inline-4 that develops 148 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque, available with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic with manual mode. The engine provides more than enough power for the daily commute, although it might not be quite as cheery with the whole family and their gear on board. And at full-throttle, it is somewhat noisier then expected, just like in other Elantras; not a big deal.

Like the sedan and the coupe, you get hydraulic power steering, four-wheel disc brakes with antilock as well as a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension setup. The GT gets slightly different components than the others, however, and on a personal note, this is the Elantra I prefer driving; the steering is a tad more communicative, and the car’s ride is well dampened.

Mind you, the Mazda3 Sport and the Lancer Sportback offer a more engaging driving experience, although the five-door Elantra is far from boring.

It’s also the only one in the family to get a driver-selectable steering mode; using a button on the steering wheel, you can choose between Normal, Comfort and Sport settings. After cycling through them several times on city streets and country roads, I can’t truly say I felt any difference. We’ll try it again when we get an Elantra GT for a one-week road test, but I suspect a lot of owners will fiddle around with it for about 10 minutes before leaving it in one mode or another.

Lots of features
The base GL costs $19,149 and includes A/C, a 6-speaker stereo with USB port and wheel-mounted controls, power windows, heated front seats, a telescopic steering column, seven airbags and keyless entry, while the $21,349 GLS gets a power driver’s seat and interior trim upgrades. Both versions can be equipped with the automatic transmission for an extra $1,200. The $24,349, leather-lined SE is only available with the automatic, while the navigation package adds $2,000 to the final tally.

We’re sad to see the roomy Elantra Touring go, as it was the only sub-$20K station wagon on the Canadian market. With loads of standard features at a very competitive price, though, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT has the ammo to battle its foes in the popular five-door compact car market. If you asked me to choose an Elantra, this is the one I’d take.

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