All photos by Hyundai
It’s now official that hatchbacks are making a comeback in North America, and Hyundai appears to have hit the mark with their all new 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. We spent a week driving this smooth riding car and walked away very impressed with the five-door functionality and styling.
The new Elantra GT represents further evolution of the Hyundai form language, “fluidic sculpture,” the company's distinctive design DNA. Everything about Elantra GT is aerodynamic, from the aggressive profile and low overall height, to the sleek side mirrors. Tire gaps are minimized while rocker panels are streamlined. Lower wind resistance translates into better fuel economy and a smoother ride. Our test model looked very sleek and upscale in titanium gray metallic which never seemed to get dirty! Up front, Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille with chrome accents flows into the hood. The body side graphic features a chrome beltline molding to keep up with the sleek character lines. Sharp projection headlamps, fog lights and available 17-inch alloy wheels with chrome spears complete the modern design. Basically, there is so much more styling than ever before in this segment and Hyundai took Elantra to the next level.
The look and feel of the cabin is hands down one of the best we’ve seen in the 2013 model year class. One can now expect more from a compact with fit and finish that will rival much more expensive offerings. Cabin refinements on the all-new Elantra GT are inspired by the high standards of the entire Hyundai lineup. Located in the center console, the available navigation system is displayed via a 7-inch touchscreen and incorporates the rearview camera screen. Elantra GT’s rearview camera is like no other. This mechanized camera is hidden behind the Hyundai flying “H” badge on the rear hatch and only appears when needed.
Dual-zone climate controls ensure a comfortable environment for all occupants during long journeys, and the addition of a panoramic sunroof provides increased natural light within the cabin. The dual-zone climate controls also incorporate an automatic defogging system, which detects humidity levels using a sensor and removes it from the windshield. Another premium feature in the Elantra GT is a CleanAir ionizer that automatically cleans the air when the heater or air conditioner is running.
Elantra GT comes standard with a 172-watt AM/FM/satellite radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks. A Bluetooth interface is also standard. The sound system plays compact discs, accesses digital music files via Bluetooth streaming audio or allows the driver and passengers to access their personal listening devices through the iPod/USB/auxiliary inputs. The SiriusXM Satellite Radio interface is also integrated into the navigation unit and features channel logos, as well as real-time NavTraffic and Data services, such as NavWeather, Stock Ticker and Sports Ticker. Users can even upload personal pictures from a USB rather than a CD to be displayed on the system’s home screen. Maximizing interior volume and delighting customers with various seating layouts are hallmarks of Hyundai engineering and translate into more cabin room, cargo space and versatility. The Elantra GT features seating layouts that can comfortably seat five people or accommodate four passengers, plus long items like golf clubs or snowboards. Fold down two seats to seat three people and hold larger packages, or fold all of the back seats to get CUV-sized cargo space.
We have driven some 6-speeds that were so jerky that they could knock the snot out of your nose, but the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT is one of the smoothest manual transmissions that we’ve tested. The Elantra GT’s 6-speed manual transmission provides short, crisp shifts and further optimizes engine performance. These crisp shifts are courtesy of triple-cone synchronizers for first and second gears, double-cone for third gear, and single-cone for fourth, fifth and sixth gears. The Elantra GT is fitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and gas shock absorbers. The rear suspension is comprised of a lightweight coupled torsion beam for enhanced steering stability and monotube shock absorbers. A 22mm diameter front stabilizer bar helps reduce body roll when cornering. Elantra GT is tuned for added feel, responsiveness and control, while the Elantra sedan is tuned for comfort. Modifications to the GT include higher rear spring rates, a stiffer twist beam and Sachs dampers for improved body motion control. These changes create driving dynamics which are sporty and comfortable. In addition, two suspension packages were developed to optimize tuning for the two different tire sizes. The Elantra GT’s Style package offers a sportier suspension calibration that is optimized for its lower-profile P215/45R17 tire.
Behind the wheel, drivers benefit from Hyundai’s all-new Driver Selectable Steering Mode. With three operating modes to select – Comfort, Normal and Sport – this innovative system allows drivers to adapt Elantra GT steering characteristics to varying driving preferences and road conditions any time they choose. Comfort level offers the greatest ease of steering and is ideal for city and parking environments. Sport is optimized for higher-speed highways or winding roads, while Normal is ideal for a mix of driving conditions. The Driver Selectable Steering Mode not only adjusts power assistance levels in each mode, but also on-center build-up feel and steering build-up curves throughout the steering range for a very natural, progressive feel. Steering damping characteristics, active return gain and high frequency friction levels have also been optimized for Elantra GT in this system.
Elantra GT’s widespread use of high-strength steel provides a 37 percent increase in body stiffness at a lower body weight when compared to the outgoing Elantra Touring model. High-strength steel allows the suspension to work optimally. Elantra GT is the lightest five-door hatchback in the compact segment. It is 175 pounds lighter than the Focus, 151 pounds lighter than the Mazda3, and 222 pounds lighter than the Golf. This weight-efficient unibody architecture allows for Elantra to achieve an estimated 39 mpg EPA highway rating, without the need for a special eco model. There is plenty of power to accomplish what you need to do at a respectable response and when you add the excellent fuel efficiency, smooth 6-speed the performance is spot on. Elantra GT’s best-in-class fuel efficiency is driven by the Blue Drive strategy. A key to Elantra GT’s extensive use of high-strength steel is an $8 billion dollar investment Hyundai made to become the only global automaker with its own fully integrated steel plant. Hyundai has 400 metallurgists focused on the task of developing optimized steel recipes for every part and panel in new vehicle architectures.
There is something special going on at Hyundai, and with all-new models like the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT entering the marketplace, one has to wonder how good can they get? For those who are reasonable drivers, this is your car, but if you demand power and performance as one, you might want to shop other options out there. For a starting price of around $18,300, the Elantra GT will be selling like hotcakes! The dual-pane panoramic moonroof is totally awesome and shows just how good interiors have become for cars under 20K. If there was a favorite part of the car that stood out, it would have to be the forward exterior styling of the Elantra that is clearly setting new standards in automotive design.
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