There is a well-documented war being waged right now in the compact car market between the two big H’s. Hyundai and Honda are battling it out for the coveted crown of #1 selling car in Canada. Their weapons of choice are the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra. For the past 14 years Honda has claimed the title of ‘bestselling car in Canada’ as the Civic has topped the charts every one of those years. However, in 2011 the Elantra just about bumped the Civic from its throne and if it were not for the amazing interest rates on the Civic late last year, it may have happened.
Now in 2012, the Civic is once again sitting at number one as we pass the halfway point in the year. Hyundai, though, is not one to sit back and settle for second best. Instead, they are initiating an all-out assault on the Civic by introducing two new models for 2013: the Elantra GT and the Elantra Coupe.
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT GLS manual. Click image to enlarge
The Elantra Coupe is pretty self explanatory, but what is an Elantra GT? Well, it is the hatchback version of the Elantra, of course! For reasons unbeknownst to this reviewer, some car companies have taken it upon themselves to ensure all hatchback naming conventions of their five-door compact car variants must exude performance and speed. Mazda has the Mazda3 Sport and Mitsubishi takes things one step further with the Lancer Sportback. Even Hyundai used to call the previous generation Elantra hatchback the Touring.
Fancy name aside, don’t expect the Hyundai Elantra GT to be any sportier than its coupe or sedan counterparts. It does receive an upgraded suspension over the Elantra Sedan via a V-beam torsion axle in the rear with integrated 22-mm stabilizer bar, a similar setup to the Veloster. As well, it is the only one of the Elantra trio to receive unique Sachs dampers and suspension calibrations. All of this suspension work adds up to a very planted feel on the road. The Elantra GT feels more secure and sucked down to the road than its 1,324 kg weight would suggest, yet is still light and agile in the corners. That is not to say it cuts up the corners, but it does hang on surprisingly well when pushed through the twisties and is ultimately let down by its non-sporting 205/55R16 tires.
The ride is comfortable on both smooth and rough pavement, but the suspension is prone to clump and thump over bumps, albeit only mildly. The suspension is more sorted out than the one in the Elantra sedan as the unfavourable quivers over uneven broken pavement has been mostly dialed out. Road noise on the whole is subdued, but the engine is loud and unpleasant at higher rpms. A cool trick feature of the Elantra GT is the adjustable electric steering that can be cycled through three modes, comfort, normal, and sport, via a button on the steering wheel. The only real difference between these modes is steering effort; feedback and feel are unaffected. So the Elantra’s steering is still numb and artificial, but at least Hyundai is making an effort to fix it.
The GT comes equipped with a 1.8L four-cylinder engine developing 148 hp and 131 ft-lb of torque, and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. The manual is only available on GL and GLS trim Elantra GTs and not the top of the line SE. Luckily for me, I was in a 2013 Elantra GT GLS with the manual.