Story and photos by Jim Robinson,
Metroland Media/WheelsTalk.com -
MONTREAL: Hyundai never sits still when it comes to replacing models, even if they are already successful in their segment. And that certainly applies to the 2013 Elantra GT.
Every 24 months, Hyundai’s strategy has been to replace seven models.
The Elantra GT bows in the middle of the second round of 24/7 lineup changes and joins the current Sedan and just introduced Coupe.
The GT is actually not a sports sedan as you might assume but a five-door hatchback, or wagon depending on your point of view, that replaces the current Elantra Touring that was a steady seller in the compact family hatch department.
But the Touring was actually ahead of Hyundai’s new Fluidic Sculpture design language. The GT remedies that with several cues such as a large, hexagonal grille and double upwardly flowing character lines.
The GT is going against some tough competitors such as Toyota Matrix, Mazda3 Sport and Ford Focus, and you can also factor in the VW Golf and Subaru Impreza – and the list goes on.
In this class, utility is very important with Hyundai claiming more interior volume and maximum cargo capacity than the competition with 531 litres behind the second row split/fold seats and a total cargo volume of 1,444 litres.
The GT is positively festooned with storage areas such as front and rear bottle holders, front and rear cupholders, a front console/bin with auxiliary audio ports, a nifty extra power point in the front passenger’s footwell area for a laptop/etc and, on some models, a cleanable storage tray under the rear cargo floor.
Power comes from Hyundai’s “Nu” series 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine with twin cams and variable valve timing producing 148 hp and 131 lb/ft of torque. It is equipped with a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic, both driving the front wheels.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.2/4.9L/100 km city/highway with the manual and 7.3/5.0L/100 km for the automatic.
Where the GT differs significantly from the Sedan and Coupe is in the chassis. It is based on the i30 model that Hyundai sells primarily in Europe and is thus dialed more towards the handling response side than the comfort side. The coil spring over MacPherson struts suspension at the front is modified for a more sporty feel and uses outside-supplier gas shocks from Sachs for improved body roll response.
At the rear, the modified twist beam suspension has stiffened bracing and a 22 mm sway bar.
The electric power steering is also dialed for Euro-style feel and tightens progressively in a turn as torque builds.
But the capper is the segment first Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM) that provides three operating modes (Comfort, Normal, and Sport).
Accessed by a button on the right lower steering wheel spoke, Comfort mode offers the greatest ease of steering, making it ideal for city driving and parking lot manoeuvres.
Sport mode is tuned to offer dynamic steering response on winding roads and on-centre stability during higher-speed highway driving. The default Normal mode offers a balance between Sport and Comfort for all driving conditions.
The DSSM system adjusts not only power assistance levels, but also on-centre feel and effort build-up throughout the steering range for a natural and progressive feel.
Hyundai is the only manufacturer to own its own steel plant and high strength steel is liberally used, resulting in a 37 per cent increase in chassis rigidity over the Touring. This increased stiffness greatly adds to the sporty ride feeling.
Four-wheel (vented front) disc brakes join leading edge safety features such as ABS with brake force distribution, vehicle stability management (VSM) and electronic stability control (ECC) with traction control.
On the topline SE Technology Package model there is a backup camera that is hidden behind the rear Hyundai emblem. Put the SE in reverse and a little servo motor tilts the emblem up and, viola, you see what is behind.
Pricing for the base GL with six-speed manual starts at $19,149 and tops out at $26,349 for the automatic SE that has all the bells and whistles.
But even the base car comes with a bunch of goodies such as heated outside mirrors, the DSSM system, heated front seats, outside temperature reading and trip computer, cruise control and air conditioning with a cooled glove box for various beverages.
And with three Elantras for 2013 you might think Hyundai is ready for any compact car eventuality but, I don’t think they are done yet.
Could there be an Elantra Convertible in the future?
If there is, one thing I’ve learned, it’s never say never when it comes to Hyundai.
Hyundai Elantra GT 2013 at a glance
BODY STYLE: Compact five-door hatchback.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 1.8-litre DOHC four-cylinder (148 hp, 131 lb/ft of torque).
FUEL ECONOMY: six-speed manual, 7.2/4.9L/100 km city/highway; six-speed automatic, 7.3/5.0L/100 km city/highway
CARGO: 551 litres behind back seat, 1,444 litres seat flat
PRICING: Elantra GT: GL 6MT, $19,149; GL 6AT, $20,349; GLS 6MT, $21,349; GLS 6AT, $22,549; SE 6AT, $24,349; SE 6AT Tech, $26,349