Euro-styling, Turbocharged Fun
The whole concept of owning a “Hot Hatch” is very alluring. Volkswagen, along with other manufacturers, offers a great handling hatchback. Such models are considered the most affordable and fun cool cars on the road. One member of the group is the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport, which comes with either a six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic with a Shiftonic manual shift mode. We’ll explore how well the Elantra GT Sport lives up to both the “sport” and “GT” tags.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Clean Fleet Report spent a week in the front-wheel drive 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport, with the six-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine puts out 201 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque. It has an EPA rating of 22 mpg city/29 highway/25 combined. Since Clean Fleet Report sets the bar at a minimum 30 mpg to be considered fuel-efficient, we took on the challenge of seeing if we could exceed the EPA numbers. Knowing the automatic-equipped Elantra gets 32 mpg on the highway, we were optimistic.
In 232 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, we averaged 33.2 mpg. However, in a 232-mile highway run, with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we achieved 34.2 mpg. So, yes, the Elantra GT Sport is a gas sipper, but how does it perform?
Our 0-to-60 times were right around 8.0 seconds. The best times were made by taking first gear to 15 mph and second to 30 mph, then getting into 3rd and 4th gears as soon as possible. The torque pulled strong in the 1,500-4,000 rpm range, taking advantage of no turbo lag and an engine that loves to be revved to the 7,500 rpm red line. 5th gear also pulls well, and 6th is for maxing-out the fuel economy.
Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
The Elantra GT Sport with the six-speed manual has a shift throw that is not quite as short or smooth as a Mazda MX-5. The neutral clutch, as in not too soft and not too stiff, was easy to use, especially when we got stuck in SoCal freeway traffic. The gearbox was a bit notchy and sometimes it was hard to tell which gear we were in, so a light on the instrument cluster indicating the gear would be very helpful. With this said though, the six-speed manual welcomes being driven hard through gears. This is especially fun taking twisty esses in the 25-40 mph (or as much as 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit) range, where the engine and gearbox don’t let you down. The electric power steering was nicely calibrated to the heavy side, something which is not the norm for most cars. Pushing the car will burn more regular unleaded, but as our real world fuel economy run demonstrated, the Elantra GT Sport cruises along at-or-above posted freeway speeds, in 6th gear, with ease and efficiency.
The Elantra GT Sport never felt as small as its compact class classification would indicate. The confident and solid feel come from the vehicle stability management system that included electronic stability and traction control. The GT we were driving had upgraded and sport-tuned MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link independent rear suspension with sway bars. Clean Fleet Report’s GT had 18-inch alloy wheels and 225/40/18, Hankook Ventos S1 Noble 2 tires that gripped well, but were noisy on the freeway. The car was nimble, and little body roll was felt, but only on the tightest corners. Out on the freeway, the ride was stiff and sometimes bumpy. The aggressive tire and suspension combination played into this.
Driving Experience: Exterior
Hyundai says the 2018 Elantra GT Sport is “confident in its good looks…that bold is beautiful, and beautiful is better.” Going too far? Not really, considering the Elantra GT Sport was designed in Europe with an eye towards going against the reigning hot hatch competitors. The Elantra GT Sport doesn’t really have a bad viewing angle.
Starting with a GT-specific front grille and fascia, which has functioning air inlets, the wide-set LED headlights squint at you from the fender corners. The line from the hood, over the windshield onto the roof, is smooth and uninterrupted by creases or bumps, except for a tastefully small shark fin antenna just above the rear hatch. The rear end is clean, with narrow LED taillights, and the simplest badges of Sport and GT set above the twin round, chrome exhaust tips.
Driving Experience: Interior
Clean Fleet Report has spent a considerable amount of time in different Hyundai models, noticing how clean and simple the interiors are. The dashes have logically laid-out controls and knobs, as in having a volume and channel knob for the radio, and one each for the fan speed and temperature control. Simple and easy to understand.
Soft touch materials are not as prevalent as hard plastic, but the subtle use of chrome accents give the dash, door panels and center console a feeling of quality. The large, round speed and tach gauges, with black backgrounds and white numbers, are extremely easy to read, and the red top stitching against the black seat and dash surfaces was striking.
Clean Fleet Report’s Elantra GT Sport came with leather seating surfaces (heated fronts) where the driver seat was six-way adjustable. Unfortunately, there was no lumbar adjustment. Padding and thigh bolstering was ample so as not to induce fatigue on long drives. The center sliding armrest is positioned nicely, and the 12V, USB and Aux ports are conveniently located at the base of the center stack.
Hyundai says the Elantra GT Sport seats five passengers, as in three in back. This is doable, but pity the person that draws the short straw and ends-up in the center seat. Keep your rear seat passengers 5’ 9” and shorter and they will have sufficient leg and head room. Otherwise, especially with legroom, things can get tight. The flat-folding 60/40 split rear seat also had a fold down armrest, with cup holders. Storage with the seats folded flat was the key to getting the most utility out of the Elantra GT Sport hatchback.
The six-speaker infotainment (information and entertainment) system included the 8.0-inch high-resolution color touchscreen for the AM/FM/CD/MP3/AUX radio. Features include SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has mounted controls for Bluetooth that offers hands-free telephone, voice and radio controls.
Our Elantra GT Sport came equipped with cruise control, power windows and door locks, rear window wiper, keyless start and entry, power and heated side mirrors with turn signals, dual automatic climate control with rear vents, and a tilt and telescopic steering column.
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport has seven airbags, a four-wheel power disc ABS braking system, a tire pressure monitoring system and a temporary spare tire. For security there was a remote panic alarm. The electronic parking brake with Auto Hold were nice features that are more commonly found on more expensive cars. The Elantra GT Sport came standard with blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, rear view camera, stability and traction control systems and brake and lane change assist.
In testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2018 Elantra received four stars (five stars is their highest rating), while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Elantra its top safety pick, for overall crash protection.
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport with the six-speed manual transmission, had optional carpeted floor mats ($125) and a MSRP of $23,375. This price excludes the $885 destination charge.
The 2018 Elantra comes with these warranties:
Powertrain 10 years/100,000 miles
New Car Five years/60,000 miles
Anti-perforation Seven years/Unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance Five years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport with the six-speed manual
An appropriate Jeopardy question might go something like this:
A: A fun-to-drive, sporty hatchback, with mid-thirties fuel economy and the industry’s best warranty, all for under $25,000.
Q: What is the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport with the six-speed manual transmission?
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport is knocking on the door of the hot hatchbacks by Volkswagen and Subaru. With a hatchback’s versatility for cargo, catchy exterior and interior design, good fuel economy, and boasting being a kick to drive, this car needs to be taken seriously. The ride can be a bit stiff on the freeway with the tuned suspension and low-profile tires, but why consider this car if you aren’t more interested in attacking the twisties as opposed to a cushy, comfy ride?
Visit your Hyundai dealer and insist on taking a test drive where the sales associate will let you push it hard on corners and through the gears. Prediction: fun ahead and an Elantra Sport GT in your driveway.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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