With its planted stance, sport-tuned suspension, a 39-mpg highway EPA and more curves – via Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design – than SI’s Swimsuit Issue, Hyundai’s 2013 Elantra GT throws its immediate competition (Focus, Golf and Mazda3) more than a curve; it has the potential for sustaining Hyundai’s market mayhem well into the next model year. The Korean carmaker is on a roll, as its rapidly increasing sales and subsequent shortage of inventory have combined to create a ‘perfect storm’, something its dealers would never have envisioned even five years ago.
Our initial look of Hyundai’s new hatchback was at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, where it was first revealed to a U.S. audience. In contrast to its sedan or coupe (also introduced at Chicago) counterparts, the Elantra GT 5-door had that ‘just right’ visual balance, with the aforementioned curvature accenting the sides, a greenhouse promising adequate visibility and an abbreviated rear overhang adding to the hatch’s visual athleticism. We were – in a word – taken with the assembled sheetmetal in a way we hadn’t been with the earlier sedan or subsequent coupe.
On its arrival in our driveway some six months later we retained that initial enthusiasm, enhanced – we think – by the addition of a Style Package which includes, among dozens of other things, 17-inch alloy wheels surrounded by 215/45R17 tires. The wheels’ polished/plated (pick one) shine seemed a bit ‘too much’ visually, while the GT’s 45-series tires may have been too much, functionally. Regardless, we continue to like the basic shape while confused by its perceived heft; its hatch feels almost too substantial, and the windshield (glass is heavy) occupied the area of a queen-sized mattress.
Inside, the Elantra’s beige-on-beige seating surfaces looked (in)appropriately upmarket in perforated leather, and provided both easy access and (once seated) a reasonable level of comfort and support. The dash area enjoyed a logical layout and, for the most part, intuitive controls. On a 3-hour drive from Dallas to Austin the XM radio was a blessing (we never tire of ‘60s on 6), while the NAV – with a straight shot south on I-35 – proved unnecessary. At speeds varying between 70 and 80 the Elantra GT’s cabin was almost serene, and therein lies the disconnect between my expectation of an Elantra GT and its deliverables.