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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.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication