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Sporty Enough: Hyundai Elantra GT Sport elevates driving experience

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Let’s face it, some people are in the market for a basic point-A-to-point-B vehicle. The Hyundai Elantra GT Sport is not a basic car. In Sport trim, the Elantra moves into another category: fun to drive.

I got to hot shoe a new Elantra GT Sport, and overall I enjoyed the experience.

New for 2018

Hyundai introduced the all-new Elantra last year and packaged the Sport with some fun car goodies, namely a turbocharged engine, manual transmission, and a fully independent, multi-link rear suspension.

The Elantra GT Sport has some clean attractive lines for a sedan, but it doesn’t differentiate itself that much from a standard Elantra GT or a Ford Focus ST. The main differences are the subtle trunk spoiler and rocker panel extensions that are sporty without being cartoonish exaggerations. Elantra Sport rolls on handsome 18-inch alloy sport rims and sticky P225/40 R18 tires.

Performance

My test car came powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine delivering 195 lb.-ft. of torque. A nice surprise was that my test car came with a 6-speed manual transmission, which are in steep decline in compact sedans. Hyundai also offer a 7-speed automatic that I did not test.

Cabin Comforts

The interior is a nice place to do business as the design is sport-oriented. The heated leather sports seats look the part and work to secure you. As it is a compact, the rear seats are a little tight, but better than most competitive compacts. The layout of the tech (includes Android Auto/Apple Carplay connectivity) features a 4.2-inch TFT gauge display and 7-inch center dash screen for audio/Navi/HVAC. Range and there are plenty of charging points. Overall, the dash is tidy with minimal clutter.

Standards

Additionally, Elantra comes with a lot of nice standard features including, A/C, a power sunroof, split folding rear seats and typical power assist features. My initial impression is that the interior features a high-quality fit/finish, especially for the price range.

The trunk features 14.4 cubic feet of flat storage above a temporary space saver tire instead of just an inflator kit.

Drivability

Elantra GT Sport has a mild-mannered personality around town with an evenly dampened ride – not too harsh, but not ‘mushy’ either. The steering and shifter work very fluently, but don’t provide any meaningful feedback. However, the flipside is a sporty personality that’s under the surface, but you have to work to get it.

Standing on the pedal is the only way to wake up the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. If I kept my foot on the floor I could get the car to sprint from a standing start or shoot past slower cars on the highway – but the engine winds out a bit.

The real key to the Elantra GT Sport is the chassis set up and how it manages different road surfaces/conditions. The suspension adapted to short choppy bumps by reducing excessive bounce, and on course, blacktop/cement surfaces the car seemed to dig in more.

Elantra’s ride is well controlled and the stiff body/chassis allows the car to be flung into the corners aggressively and exit them all in one piece minus excessive body roll or flex.

Safety

Standard safety/driving aids included: Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). In addition to EBD, Elantra has firm braking and good pedal feel.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport offers more than I expected. I would prefer more power and a better manual, but the standard features, combined with available performance, comfort, and affordable price, give it an edge over most competitors in the segment.