By Shari Prymak

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - The Hyundai Elantra has quickly become one of the most popular compact cars on the market. What was once a bargain choice for cost-conscious consumers has now become one of finest options in terms of affordability, build quality, and feature content. In addition to the popular sedan, the Elantra is available in GT form as a practical 5-door hatchback. Where the sedan was largely designed for North American tastes, the GT is a European concoction. That could explain why the design has a whiff of Volkswagen Golf to it, which is no bad thing.

The Elantra GT comes with a 2.0L engine that produces 162 horsepower and 150lb-ft of torque matched to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. For those seeking a little more performance, the higher Sport trims swap the 2.0L engine for a 201 horsepower, 1.6L turbo paired to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s a more complicated drivetrain that will be more repair-intensive over the long-haul, but it’s the way to go if a bit of driving excitement is a must.

As far as the drive goes, the Elantra GT Sport strikes a nice balance between handling and comfort. It isn’t as aggressive as a proper hot hatchback, but it’s still fun to drive and quite competent when driven with enthusiasm. The 6-speed manual has a smooth, positive shifter, but the quiet engine makes it a bit tricky to shift properly. It’s a lot easier to shift smoothly when you can actually hear the engine. That being said, the power level is pretty good for a small hatchback. In terms of fuel economy, the 1.6T averaged 8.5L/100km over a week of mixed city and highway driving.

hyundai elantra

On the inside there are plenty of well-designed surfaces and storage places, plus a good amount of equipment. My test car, a $26,999 Sport model, was equipped with leather seats, power driver’s seat, a giant panoramic sunroof, and a few sporty garnishes like red seatbelts and 18 inch alloys. Even the base GL model includes heated seats and steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and an 8 inch infotainment screen with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Desirable features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning with lane keep assist are available, but sadly only on the top-end Sport model.

The Elantra GT starts at $20,499 for a manual GL model, and climbs to as high as $30,499 for a 1.6T Ultimate DCT model. That makes it price competitive with other similarly equipped hatchbacks, if not as great a value as Hyundai’s of the past. For those seeking all-out value for money, the Elantra Sedan still has the edge, undercutting the GT by about $1,500 to $2,000 at all trim levels. It even offers a unique trim level called the LE which, for $18,499, is just about the most affordable way to get into a compact car with desirable features such as an automatic transmission, air conditioning, Bluetooth, and heated seats. The sedan also offers active safety features on lower ends models similar to competing compacts.

The Elantra GT faces some strong competitors such as the Honda Civic Hatchback, Corolla iM, and Mazda3 Sport. Although it lags behind the others in some areas, it remains a solid choice for someone looking for a nice blend of practicality, affordability, and high feature content. The 5 year/100,000km comprehensive warranty is class-leading, and the track-record for reliability is strong as well. Hyundai also tends to offers some of the most aggressive purchase incentives on the market. With a few additional sales sweeteners, this could easily turn into one of the best buys in the segment.