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Every year car manufacturers introduce dozens of new models. Some of those bright, shiny cars are well received, while others are soon forgotten, relegated to the auto burial ground of the past.

But the Elantra was discovered early and proved to become a successful name. A panel of esteemed automotive journalists named the Hyundai Elantra the 2012 North American Car of the Year. In December 2011, MotorTrend.com stated, “Without a doubt, the Hyundai Elantra is one of the best compact sedans you can buy.”

In 2013 Hyundai introduced the new GT 5-Door. A vehicle that looks sporty with sports performance credentials, yet has been created with an advanced formula that makes it lighter (2,745 lbs. Curb weight) yet stronger, allowing the Elantra GT to become one of the lightest five-door hatchbacks in its segment.

The Elantra GT sedan, like its sister the hatchback, has a stiff chassis and an impressive power-to-weight ratio, and together with its sporty-tuned suspension delivers quick reflexes and precise handling. This weight-efficiency allows Elantra GT to achieve an EPA of 37 mpg highway. To my credit, I averaged just over 42 mpg during my tenure drive.

Now just because the GT is sports light doesn’t mean it doesn’t have features, like available panoramic sunroof and a rear-view camera, which is normally hidden but tilts up under the tailgate badge when reversing (part of the Tech Package). Dumb ole me thought that that little indention was for the trunk key.

Hyundai has something called Blue Link which is their advanced telematics system, which is a fancy jargon for a multimedia navigation system with strong smart-phone integration.

The optional Touch and Go Package adds even more comfort-enhancing luxuries such as leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, one-touch drivers-up-windows and proximity key entry with push button start ($2750).

The Elantra GT has a 148 hp 1.8 liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with dual continuously variable valve timing, married to a 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONICS and Active ECO System. This is great for saving gas, but the 131 lb.-ft. of torque doesn’t provide the zip for quick acceleration or great passing performance. However, the GT performs well with no restrictions on the curves, and is a pure delight when handling on the straightaways.

The GT is roomy with 119.1 cu ft. interior volume. In fact, the GT has more interior volume than Toyota Matrix, Mazda3, Ford Focus and VW Golf. Surprisingly it has more cargo space than the Nissan Juke. I like the fold-flat rear seats and the available under-floor storage compartments (Touch and Go).

My wife has a suitcase about the size of a luxury cruise liner. But with GT, loading was easy because of the cavernous opening and the black hole length. And you don’t have to bend over too far to place the luggage into the trunk. Just slide it in.

Driving the Elantra was a thrill. Just sit behind the wheel, and push the button to start the engine. Slide open the sunroof, allowing playful clouds to brighten your mood. Watch as the navigation system helps to determine your path as you listen to the available Bluetooth hands-free phone system respond to your voice.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $19,395. As mentioned earlier the Tech Package with features like Advanced Navigation System with rearview camera, dual automatic temperature control, and automatic headlights adds another $2,350.

As a side note: Hyundai has a program called Hope on Wheels in which Hyundai dealerships set aside a portion of their proceeds from vehicles sold into a special fund to help pay for pediatric cancer research. By the end of 2012 over $57 million had been given to this worthy cause.

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or [email protected].
 
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