Review and photos Jeff Wilson

We at are nothing if not a fair lot. Sure it may seem at times that certain brands keep coming up at or near the top of our comparison tests, but rest assured, they’re always hard-fought and well deserved victories, and every car gets the same fair shot at the title.

With that never ending quest for even handedness in mind, we immediately put in a request for a 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT after the 2013 model faired a disappointingly low 8th place in our recent 11-car compact segment comparison test. We did so based on the knowledge of the new car being fitted with an updated drive train. Only a year earlier, Hyundai’s compact hatchback claimed the top spot in another comparison test. All this is to say nothing of Hyundai’s consistent podium finishes in most comparison tests. So what gives with that 2013 model?

For one, the Elantra GT struck our reviewers as being a decent car, but somewhat lacking in the features and amenities department – a strange twist for a brand typically known to load up its cars with amenities for very little cost. More importantly, Hyundai’s compact hatchback trailed the best of the bunch by a fair margin in the driving dynamics.

2014 Hyundai Elantra GT2014 Hyundai Elantra GT
2014 Hyundai Elantra GT. Click image to enlarge

The folks at Hyundai have not been ones to rest on their laurels of late, and likely do not take kindly to one of their most popular machines falling behind the ever-improving competition. Which is why we probably should not be surprised to see Hyundai not simply make a few mid-cycle changes to the Elantra GT, but rather toss the whole engine / transmission set in the bin and replace it with a new 2L inline-4 cylinder unit that bumps torque by 23 lb-ft to 154 and horsepower by 25 to 173 over the old 1.8L mill.

This new engine is a noticeable and greatly appreciated improvement over the old one and helps to keep the Elantra GT moving spritely through traffic. But, if you have had a taste of some of the Elantra GT’s competitors fitted with small displacement turbocharged four-bangers (Chevy Cruise, Dodge Dart GT and VW Jetta 1.8T), you may question the Korean car’s torque figure. The torques are all there, they all just show up to the party after 4,500 rpm, so you’ll need to rev the “Nu” engine (Hyundai’s internal name for it) to get the most out of it.

2014 Hyundai Elantra GT2014 Hyundai Elantra GT
2014 Hyundai Elantra GT. Click image to enlarge

Although Hyundai claims the best power-to-weight ratio in the segment, the power delivery gives the impression that the Elantra GT is not as quick in day-to-day driving as some of those boosted competitors – a reminder that numbers on a page do not always tell the whole story.

It would be reasonable to assume the larger and more powerful engine would be at the expense of reduced fuel efficiency, but impressively, this is not the case. Rated at 8.5 L/100 km (City) and 5.8 L/100 km (Highway) for the six-speed manual, the Elantra GT with the 2L engine is actually fractionally better than last year’s 1.8L.

It has been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but to win this writer’s affections, simply provide a fun car with a good manual transmission set up. Hyundai offered up a test car with just such a gearbox and happily it does a fine job of contributing to the driving woo. The gears are well spaced and enable the driver to keep the car in the lively part of its power band. Clutch action is light and shift throws are reasonably short though there is some vagueness to the gate versus, say a Honda ‘box.

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