As the line between small crossovers and hatchbacks continues to blur more each year, the market for traditional hatchbacks has picked up in the U.S. It isn’t hard to see why as the only major differences between the two segments usually consists of a few millimeters of ride height and slight visual cues (like grey exterior trim on crossovers).
The completely redesigned 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor, and unlike its rivals, the hatchback shares nothing with its Alabama-made sedan counterpart. That’s because this model is based on the South Korean-made, European-tuned Hyundai i30. Despite carrying the same name, the differences between the two Elantra models are as different American football and European football.
This sportier, European flair should give the Elantra GT more relevance in the increasingly popular compact hatchback segment, which includes five-door rivals like the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla iM, Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Subaru Impreza and Kia Forte5. So how does the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT stack up? Keep reading to find out.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Exterior
As handsome as the current Elantra sedan is, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT looks far sportier and more upscale, which shows how different Americans and Europeans still are when it comes to compact cars. The Elantra GT rides on a wheelbase that is two inches shorter than the sedan and is nine inches shorter overall, and this helps give the hatchback more appealing proportions. The overall design might not be as extreme as the Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze hatchbacks, but the details are what makes the Elantra GT one eye-catching hatchback.
Up front, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT gets Hyundai’s cascading grille with a pattern commonly seen on Mercedes and Infiniti products, while the functional lower air intakes and standard LED daytime running lights are stylish touches. Adding to the appearance, this tester was equipped with the $4,300 Tech Package that includes optional LED headlights and taillights as well as a panoramic roof, which adds a contrasting effect to this car’s Ceramic White paint job. The 10-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels finish off the look, but they are the only options on the non-Sport models.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Interior
Aside from the fact that the hatchback comes as the Elantra GT and Elantra GT Sport, it doesn’t have trim levels like the sedan (which is offered as the SE, SEL and Limited). This leaves a selection of option packages as the only ways to transform a base Elantra GT into the luxurious, feature-laden hatchback you see here.
The aforementioned Tech Package spruces up the cabin with leather seating, an eight-inch touch screen navigation system, Qi wireless smartphone charging, ventilated front seats, a seven-speaker Infinity audio system as the full suite of Blue Link connected services. Also equipped on this car is the $1,800 Style Package, which is available as a standalone package but is required if you want the Tech Package. This includes proximity keyless entry with push-button start, dual automatic climate control, power driver’s seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Like the exterior, the cabin design of the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT is totally different than the sedan, but it offers the same class-leading interior we saw from our review of the Elantra Sedan with surprising materials, quality and fit and finish. The perforated leather, large glass roof and the standalone infotainment screen are welcomed upscale touches. In terms of size, the Elantra GT has no problem accommodating five adult passengers, and the sunken rear load floor gives the Elantra GT 24.9 cubic feet when the rear seat is up. Folding the rear seats down more than doubles the cargo capacity to 55.1 cubic feet, but the downside of doing so is that there is a considerable height difference between the seats and the rear cargo area.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Powertrain
Aside from the European styling and spacious interior, the biggest reason to choose the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT over the sedan is its powertrain options. The model we tested was the base engine consisting of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 161 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque and this was paired to a six-speed automatic transmission for an extra $1,000. The Elantra GT Sport uses a peppier 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque; the Sport offers a seven-speed DCT while both engines are available with a six-speed manual transmission. In this tester’s configuration, the Elantra GT has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway**.
Hyundai likes to tout that the new Elantra GT was tuned on the famed Nürburgring, and it doesn’t take a long test drive to show that this European testing paid off. Not only does this give the Elantra GT an impressively sporty driving dynamic, it also allowed Hyundai engineers to tune the chassis, suspension and steering to the point where this car has a responsive, smooth and quiet ride. We have not yet tested the Sport model, but this version of the Elantra GT also gets a multi-link independent rear suspension as an upgrade to the standard car’s torsion beam rear setup. Volkswagen, Subaru and all other sporty compact hatchback makers best be on notice as the Elantra GT is just be a performance model – which Hyundai’s new high-performance N division already offers as the 271-hp i30 N – away from being a true hot hatch.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Safety
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT comes with a full battery of airbags (including a driver’s side knee airbag) and safety systems, and the Tech Package adds Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the new Elantra GT a Top Safety Pick rating, while the compact hatchback received a four-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Overall
Compact hatchbacks have always been practical and reasonably priced, but the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT proves that these cars no longer have to be boring – to look at or to drive. Packing the practicality of a small CUV and the value of a compact sedan, the new Elantra GT has instantly become a dominating force in this hatchback segment thanks to its style, efficiency and affordability.
The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT is priced starting at $19,350*, which is $450 less than the 2017 model year. Adding in the option packages and automatic transmission, the Elantra GT used for this test drive review had an as-tested price of $27,460.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and test drive the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.