2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line Review

The Koreans build a practical little sleeper


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Handsome styling without overdoing it, well-executed interior ergonomics, composed and fun driving dynamics, the perfect understated semi-hot hatch.
Negatives: Best safety features are expensive options, non-descript styling, strange seat cushion trim is rubbery.
Bottom Line: The Elantra GT N Line is one of the best affordable performance cars out there that's also remarkably well-rounded. It provides excellent driving fun without the power to get into too much trouble. It's also got great ergonomics and infotainment, and there's ample space for gear, as well.
The new Elantra GT N Line might confuse some carbuyers, but perhaps not since they probably didn't know that much about the car it replaced, the Elantra GT Sport. The differences are subtle but real. Though power doesn't increase from the 201-hp turbo four, there are some real performance enhancements. The engine mounts, transmission mounts, and springs are stiffer than the GT Sport's, and the shocks and steering have been tweaked. Hyundai even gets better performance tires and an upgraded interior. We thought the Sport was good but not great, so we were looking forward to the GT N Line's sporty offerings. We drove it for a week and tossed it around a bit. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

9

 

The GT N Line isn't substantially faster than the car it replaces, but what's felt in the overall handling and responsiveness is palpable. What felt incomplete in the GT Sport is now very well rounded with the new performance model. We really enjoyed our seat time and consider it one of the best bangs for the buck when it comes to affordable semi-hot hatches.

Ride Quality: Firm but compliant enough for everyday driving without discomfort. The GT N Line has performance tires and firmer suspension that err on the side of sportiness, but the car never felt unsettled over gaps and bumps.

Acceleration: 60 mph with the manual comes in about 6 and-a-half seconds. The twin clutch will shave off a couple tenths of a second, but the 6-speed manual is well-worth having since it's easy to work, and it's the only way to get the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires. The clutch is easy, and the shifter is very good.

Braking: The brakes on the GT N Line are good, and there's a linear progression. Pedal feel is also good with no dead spots or mushiness to speak of.

Steering: The GT N Line's steering has been improved from the GT Sport with sharper responsiveness and excellent accuracy. We had no trouble placing it in turns. The feedback, however, is minimal, and the car exhibits some torque steer that's easy to keep in check.

Handling: There's a small amount of controllable body roll, but it's all very predictable. It doesn't have the torque vectoring of the Veloster Turbo N, but it's still a very fun car to toss around.

Technology

8.9

 

Hyundai's have been great in terms of in-car tech. None of it's frustrating to use, and the overall experience lends to concentrating on the road versus hunting for functions. The screen that sits atop the dash provides minimal fuss and easy visibility.

Infotainment System: The GT N Line gets an 8-inch color touchscreen that's very legible even in bright sunlight. Menus are intuitive, and the system's responsiveness to inputs is very good. We wish other automakers would take this route rather than trying to look too fancy, thereby sacrificing easy control.

Controls: The rectangular infotainment buttons that flank the screen are front and center, the climate controls are spot on, and the steering wheel controls are some of the best in the business.

Styling

8.7

 

Some might call the Elantra GT boring, but we adore it. It has the right blend of sportiness and low-on-the-radar styling. It's also remarkably well-proportioned and looks pricier than it actually is.

Front: The cascade grille isn't as dramatic as on some of Hyundai's other models, but it looks properly aggressive with black mesh, the tapering LED headlights, and the vented lower fascia. We just wish the hood had more aggressive lines.

Rear: It's one of the best-looking hatchbacks from this angle. The crease between the sporty LED taillights juts out just right, and the twin round pipes and diffuser point to the car's performance intentions.

Profile: It borrows well from the European i30 from this angle. Good proportions, short front and rear overhangs, and almost the complete absence of chrome give the GT N Line a handsome appearance from the side view.

Cabin: A great conglomeration of sporty gauges, an aggressive steering wheel, aluminum pedals, a big manual shift knob, and red accents make the Elantra GT N Line's cabin purpose-driven.

Comfort

8.6

 

The cabin of the GT N Line is the right blend of sporty and practical. The seating position was well thought-out, and just about everything inside looks and feels good. It's not plush, but you can spend hours in this car without getting tired.

Front Seats: The bolstering is great for tossing the car into corners, and the cushioning is very good without being too soft. We thought the seat trim on the cushion bolsters was too rubbery and odd. Otherwise, the front seats are great.

Rear Seats: The rear seats provide 34.8 inches of legroom and 38.5 inches of headroom. Tall adults can sit back here without issue.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): You can hear some wind noise at highway speeds, but the cabin is well built and free of rattles and squeaks.

Visibility: Big glass and manageable pillar width combine with a great seating position to provide solid visibility all around. The sloping hoodline also helps with placing the GT N Line where you want it.

Climate: The dual-zone automatic climate control system worked very well and was easy to control. We did not test the heated seats this summer.

Safety

9

 

The Elantra GT gets very good safety scores, but there's a caveat to it because the best score only pertains to models with additional safety features that cost extra.

IIHS Rating: The Elantra GT gets the Top Safety Pick score, one shy of the top award, but only with the optional tech package that costs almost $4K ($3,850 to be exact) extra, which our tester didn't have. It comes with Forward Collision Mitigation. And you have to get upgraded headlights to attain the score, as well. It did, however, get "good" in all crash tests conducted.

NHTSA Rating: The Elantra GT gets 4 out of 5 stars due to side impact crash tests injuries to rear passengers.

Standard Tech: Aside from the typical traction control, stability control, ABS, and airbags, there's only a rearview camera.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.6

 

The Elantra GT N Line is great for weekend getaways since there's ample room in back that eclipses most hatchbacks. The cabin also has good small item storage.

Storage Space: We love the big center stack binnacle with its retractable door, as well as the sliding cover to the twin cupholder in the center console. Both are great for keeping items out of sight when you're parked.

Cargo Room: The rear cargo section is bigger than most hatchbacks, and you can get 55.1 cubic feet with the rear 60/40 split-folding seats folded down. That's more capacious than the VW Golf and the Honda Fit. With the seats in place, you get 24.9 cubic feet.

Fuel Economy

8.2

 

Though the car's EPA ratings are lower than competitors, it managed to pull off very good numbers for being driven so hard by us. We constantly pressed the GT N Line, and it came out unscathed on the other side.

Observed: 26.2 mpg

Distance Driven: 169 miles

Audio

7.9

 

The GT N Line's standard 6-speaker audio system is good but not great. It does the job of providing distortion-free sound withotu fanfare or fault. There's some bass and good clarity, but it lacks the power of a premium system.



Final Thoughts

The Elantra GT N Line certainly fills in the gaps the GT Sport left behind. It's more tractable, more planted, and it has the makings of one of the best semi-hot hatches in the industry. For $24K, it's hard to find something this competent and fun at the same time, and Hyundai has a hit on its hands. The interior is daily usable, attractive, and the space will suit most drivers without complaint. It's no rocket like the Veloster Turbo N, but it's also more of a bargain. The GT N Line was so good, we seriously want one for ourselves.
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