2014 Hyundai Elantra GT

The Elantra GT hatchback is Hyundai's replacement for the homely but spacious Elantra Touring. While it offers a less capacious cabin than its wagon-like predecessor, the Elantra GT one-ups the old model with a sport-tuned suspension, vastly improved fuel economy and more attractive styling.

Essentially an Americanized version of the European-market i30, the Elantra GT joins the popular Elantra sedan and recently-launched Elantra coupe as Hyundai's third offering in the compact segment.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, the Elantra GT gains a more powerful 2.0-liter motor and a rear spoiler.

Overview
Compared with the standard Elantra sedan, the Elantra GT rides on a slightly shorter wheelbase and is nine inches shorter overall. Despite its more diminutive dimensions, the Elantra GT's roomy hatchback configuration gives it 23 cubic feet of cargo space (up from the sedans 14.8 cubic feet). Total capacity swells to an impressive 51 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, although that's still 14.3 cubic feet less than the old Elantra Touring.

Aside from the steering wheel, instrument panel and minor bits of switchgear, the Elantra GT's interior is unique from the rest of the Elantra range. It includes a simple, elegant dashboard design and an impressive number of standard stowage and storage features, such as a cooled glove compartment, central console storage area, a front storage tray, a cargo area under-floor storage space and six cup holders.

As is the case with many hatchback offerings brought stateside recently, Hyundai decided to position the Elantra GT as the sporty, more youth-oriented model when compared to the sedan. Changes to the GT include higher rear spring rates, a stiffer twist beam and Sachs dampers for improved body motion control. These modifications sacrifice a bit of ride comfort for added control and handling responsiveness. Drivers can also configure the steering to suit their own tastes with Hyundai's Driver Selectable Steering system, which offers Comfort, Normal and Sport settings.

The Elantra GT is powered by a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, while a six-speed automatic is available as an extra-cost option.

Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the stick and 24/33 mpg with the automatic.

Facilitating the Elantra GT's efficiency is its light curb weight of roughly 2,800 lbs., made possible by the use of high and ultra-high tensile steel. Less of this extra-strong material is needed to make the car safe than traditional metal, helping to minimize mass.

Standard and Optional Features
Standard kit on the Elantra GT includes A/C, power windows and locks, cruise control, a 172-watt AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD audio system with six-speakers and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with voice recognition, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, 16-inch alloy wheels remote keyless entry and a trip computer.

The optional Style package adds 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/45R17 tires, a sport-tuned suspension, a panoramic sunroof, side repeater exterior mirrors, leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a power driver's seat with power lumbar support, aluminum pedals and driver-side auto/up window.

Available only with the Style package, the Tech Package brings a navigation system, automatic headlamps, a rearview camera, dual automatic temperature control and proximity key entry with electronic push button start and immobilizer.

Occupant Safety
All Elantra models come standard with dual front, side and side-curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems, brake assist and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Key Competitors
In the market for a practical yet sporty compact hatchback? Alternatives to the Elantra GT include the Mazda Mazda3, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza and Volkswagen Golf.