2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Review

Not a hot hatch, but still very good


Wade Thiel, Staff Writer



Positives: Fun to drive, not much turbo lag, standard manual transmission, lots of features for the price.
Negatives: Fair amount of road noise, not as sporty as its competitors, weird central door lock button, somewhat tight rear leg room.
Bottom Line: The Elantra GT Sport is a car that should move Hyundai forward. It's a sporty little hatchback car that delivers a lot of features and fun for the money. It's not as sporty as legitimate hot hatches, but it does deliver when it comes to an enjoyable driving experience.
Hyundai's Elantra GT Sport is known as the i30 in European markets. Hyundai plucked the model from overseas, Americanized it a bit, and dropped in into North America. Now it's here in all its mildly sporty glory. In some ways, it competes with cars like the Mazda3 and the Honda Civic Hatchback, but it aspires to take down the VW Golf GTI. We got to spend a full week with the Elantra GT Sport to see where this car really fits in. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.6

 

The Hyundai Elantra GT Sport is a fairly quick, nimble, and fun to drive car. It can handle most of what you throw at it, but it doesn’t egg you on the way some other sporty hatchbacks do.

Ride Quality: The car is smooth and composed over bumps. It soaks them up well without totally isolating you from the road.

Acceleration: The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine has good power, but it’s not enough to make the car feel truly quick. Transmission throws are a little longer than we expected. A 0-60 mph sprint happens in about 6.5 seconds.

Braking: The brakes are strong and progressive, providing reassuring stopping power.

Steering: The steering is well-weighted and precise. You can place the car easily on the road.

Handling: The multilink rear suspension and revised springs, dampers, and steering components for the GT Sport make the car feel downright fun on a backroad. The car corners pretty flat and feels composed on the road, but it’s not quite on par with the VW Golf GTI.

Technology

8.2

 

Hyundai’s infotainment systems are top-notch. The Elantra GT Sport's system is very good, but we like the control layout in the brand’s other cars, like the Sonata, better.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch display is clear, responsive, and easy to see, with excellent graphics and a good interface to work with. It’s also pretty feature packed. Even without all the optional bells and whistles, it comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Controls: The touchscreen is responsive and the buttons work well, though we don’t care for the layout of buttons on either side of the screen. We’d rather have a clear line of buttons on the dash like in Hyundai’s other models.

Styling

8.9

 

Hyundai could have made its sporty hatchback silly looking, like Honda did with the Civic Type R, but the company didn’t. Instead, it went with a refined and clean look that we really like. Peter Schreyer’s guidance in the design department has yielded another attractive Korean compact car.

Front: The most noticeable feature on the front end is the Hyundai corporate grille. To either side of that are a pair of somewhat aggressively shaped full-LED headlights and below that some LED running lights.

Rear: The rear features some horizontal lines that work to widen the look of the back of the car. The attractive LED taillights and the dual exhaust complete an attractive rear end.

Profile: From the side, you can see just how well-proportioned the Elantra GT Sport is. The design team has done a wonderful job giving the car clean lines and sporty look.

Cabin: The cabin of the car looks pretty good with red accents and a clear and not overly complicated dashboard. Hyundai could reduce the amount of plastic throughout the interior, but otherwise, it’s a good-looking space.

Comfort

7.9

 

We would call the interior of the Elantra GT Sport cozy. It doesn’t feel cramped but other hatchback cars offer more space and a more airy cabin. That said, we didn't have much problem getting comfortable.

Front Seats: The heated leather seats provide good support, adjustment, and bolstering. It took a little adjusting to get where we wanted to be, but once there, the seats proved very comfortable.

Rear Seats: The rear seats offer similar levels of support and the same leather material. Taller passengers may want to sit up front due to leg room concerns, but for most people there’s enough room.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Wind and road noise on the highway was higher than we expected, but otherwise we noticed no noise, vibration, or harshness issues.

Visibility: Seeing out the Elantra GT Sport proved easy. Front and side visibility is good because the A pillars aren’t too wide. Rear visibility could be better, but with the aid of the rearview camera, we had no issues maneuvering the car.

Climate: The dual-zone, automatic climate control worked quickly and was powerful. The heated seats also fired right up and were powerful.

Safety

8.9

 

The Hyundai Elantra GT Sport appears to be a very safe car. It tested well in both IIHS and NHTSA crash tests with some discrepancies between the two organizations findings.

IIHS Rating: The Elantra GT was awarded a Top Safety Pick rating. The car’s headlights and ease of use for child seat anchors was rated acceptable.

NHTSA Rating: The car received four stars overall and in each category. In the side crash test, the NHTSA has a footnote that highlighted the side barrier for rear passengers could be better.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with lectronic stability control with traction control, ABS, hill assist control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, airbags, and 4-wheel disc brakes.

Optional Tech: There were no safety equipment options on our tester.

Storage/Cargo

7.6

 

For such a compact car, the Elantra GT Sport does pretty well in both interior storage and cargo capacity. Besting some of the competition.

Storage Space: There’s a storage space in front of the gear selector, cup holders behind that, a slot for a phone next to the cup holders, and a space beneath the arm rest.

Cargo Room: The Elantra GT Sport offers just short of 25 cubic feet of storage space. Which is more than the Mazda3 and VW Golf GTI, but not as much as the Honda Civic Hatchback.

Fuel Economy

7

 

The Hyundai Elantra GT Sport does pretty good when it comes to using fuel frugally. That being said it’s not the best in its class. The VW Golf GTI for example does better both in the city and on the highway, and so do most of its less sporty counterparts like the Mazda3 Hatchback and Honda Civic Hatchback.

Observed: 24.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 189 miles

Driving Factors: We drove a mix of highway and city miles, covering more ground on the highway than in the city. We also drove pretty aggressively when conditions were right.

Audio

6.9

 

The standard display audio system comes with six speakers. They do a good job providing sound to all areas of the small cabin, but the optional Infinity premium audio system would offer fuller-bodied sound.



Final Thoughts

Hyundai has made a very good sporty hatchback car in the Elantra GT Sport. It may lack some of the eagerness of other true hatchbacks, but there’s no denying this car offers quite a lot of fun in an affordable package. It bests the VW Golf GTI by a couple thousand dollars, so if you want something a little more powerful than the Mazda3 hatchback and the Honda Civic Hatchback but don’t want to jump all the way to the VW, this is a great choice.

Check out our Video Review:

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