First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT reviews hyundai first drives
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT SE Tech. Click image to enlarge
First Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring
Test Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring GL SportManufacturer’s web site
Hyundai Canada

Originally published July 3, 2012

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Photo Gallery:
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Hyundai’s Elantra sedan has been a hot seller since its introduction in 2011, for its combination of budget pricing and eye-catching styling. For 2013, Hyundai hopes to expand the appeal of its compact model with the addition of two new variants: a coupe (which we’ll profile here soon) and this car, the GT hatchback.

The idea, as it is with any automaker offering a variety of body styles, is to attract a wider range of potential buyers. In the case of the hatchback, shoppers who’ve skipped Hyundai in favour of a Mazda3 Sport, Toyota Matrix or Ford Focus, the cars Hyundai Canada identifies as key competitors. On paper, the GT is an interesting proposition, based on the i30 sold in overseas markets. (The outgoing Elantra Touring was a copy of the previous-generation i30 CW, a wagon version of the regular i30, and offered a notably different driving experience next to the Elantra sedan of the day.)

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT reviews hyundai first drives
First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT reviews hyundai first drives
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT SE Tech. Click image to enlarge

The GT is recognizable as an Elantra (though the rear bears a resemblance to certain recent Kias) and uses the same 1.8L engine (148 hp/131 lb-ft of torque) and six-speed transmissions, but the bits that keep it shiny side up were designed by Hyundai’s European engineering squad. The rear springs are firmer than the sedan’s, and the dampers (shock absorbers) are upgraded for better body control. The GT’s rear suspension is a different design, a torsion axle design with a stabilizer bar, in place of the sedan’s less sophisticated torsion beam setup. The result, promises Hyundai, is a car with a distinctly European road feel.

We’ve heard that before, so even as we looked forward to driving the Elantra along the winding backroads of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, we weren’t holding our breath expecting this car to be some Euro-smash wunderkind.

First impressions were positive. The GT preserves the i30′s interior, which I prefer to the sedan’s overwrought dashboard styling. My hope was that this car’s suspension would do away with the easily unsettled ride that keeps me from loving the way the sedan goes over the road. To some degree, there is an improvement here, but it’s not a complete cure. We drove the top-end SE model (complete with standard automatic transmission), which gets an uprated (read: stiffer) suspension and 17-inch wheels in place of 16s on GL and GLS models.

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