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Now that Steph has had his crack at it, we figured it was time for an additional one in all us to get some wheel time with the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT. Oh, and I spent about half an hour piloting the refreshed 2018 Hyundai Sonata, too.

I’ll cowl the Sonata on the backside of this report. For now, let’s speak about Hyundai’s hottest hatch, a minimum of till the Veloster returns with an out there N efficiency trim.

Primarily based on the European Hyundai i30 however offered with unique-to-North America suspension tuning and powertrain selections, the 2018 Elantra GT arrives with a brand new design language and subtly enhanced proportions.

Hyundai will readily let you know the Elantra GT is a “tweener” – meant to be sportier than the usual Elantra sedan (together with that automotive’s Sport trim), however not so sporty as to be a direct menace to the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST.

Not solely that, however very similar to Honda informed us relating to the midsize sedan phase, Hyundai will fortunately let you know that compact vehicles (sedan or hatch) aren’t dying by the hands of crossovers. Moreover, the corporate even says that hatchbacks just like the GT present among the similar practicality that CUV consumers crave.

Certainly, Hyundai tried to show this level by exhibiting a slide stating that the Elantra GT has extra cargo quantity with the rear seat down than a number of CUVs (together with the Audi Q3, which nobody will cross-shop with ANY hatch, however no matter).

Hatchback practicality apart, most folk who plunk down cash for this automotive are going to be on the lookout for a commuter that’s enjoyable to drive. Scored on that metric alone, the corporate principally delivers. However contemplating GTI is sportier and extra enjoyable to drive, that’s an issue for the Elantra GT.

What’s that, you say? The Elantra GT is cheaper than a GTI? Sure, that’s true, and it holds true even when the Elantra GT is loaded to the gills within the uplevel/sportier Sport trim. Sadly, you’ll be able to’t get a completely loaded GT Sport with out sacrificing the clutch pedal. Hyundai’s product planner informed assembled media he’d prefer it if a handbook was out there with a completely optioned model, nevertheless it’s not within the playing cards.

See, a completely loaded Elantra GT Sport comes with the Tech Package deal, and all the motive force’s aids (computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Blue Hyperlink smartphone connection app, lane-keep help, high-beam help, and driver-attention alert) in that package deal don’t play properly with a row-your-own gearbox in Hyundai’s view.

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A lot for a worth challenger to the GTI that provides you with all of the bells and whistles whereas letting you shift for your self.

Nonetheless, there are many good options, each customary and out there, right here. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be found, together with a rear-view digital camera, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross visitors detection, lane-change help, sensible cruise management with cease/begin means, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, distant keyless entry, push-button begin, tilt/telescope steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB, heated entrance seats, cooled entrance seats, LED head- and taillights, panoramic sunroof, and premium audio.

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On steadiness, the Elantra GT might be nearer to the non-ST Focus or the Mazda three by way of comparability, however as I’ll element under, each of these vehicles are just a little extra enjoyable to drive. That doesn’t imply the GT Sport isn’t, but when sporting character is merchandise one in your guidelines, it received’t be your first alternative. Should you’re merely on the lookout for a every day driver that may often be wrung out, properly, give the Hyundai a glance alongside the Focus and Mazda three.

Which will make it sounds just like the Hyundai sucks. It doesn’t. It’s simply that, properly, it’s onerous to determine this automotive’s place (I’d be curious to the way it compares to the Chevy Cruze hatch — a comparability I’m not making, as I’ve but to drive that car). By itself deserves, the automotive is okay, nevertheless it’s nonetheless considerably much less participating than a lot of the competitors, and never simply the “sizzling” hatches however among the “mainstream” variations, too. It’s a bit like a restaurant that’s good however not nice – you’ll take pleasure in your meal, however you understand you are able to do higher, and maybe for a similar value.

The Elantra GT gives two engines – a 2.Zero-liter four-cylinder that makes 161 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque for the bottom model and a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4 that makes 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque within the Sport mannequin. The bottom automotive is on the market with a six-speed handbook transmission (except you add the Fashion and/or Tech Packages, by which case it’s no clutch for you) or six-speed computerized, whereas the Sport is on the market with a six-speed stick (besides with the Tech Package deal, as famous) or a seven-speed dual-clutch computerized.

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On the street, my largest beef was noise, particularly on the freeway. Our drive happened within the western and southern suburbs of Chicago, and the primary a part of the drive was principally toll street. Even once I turned the radio on, I needed to crank the amount to drown out the ever-present clamor. That a lot din makes the automotive really feel cheaper than it’s, which is simply too dangerous, as the inside appointments and supplies are par for the category and usually good (besides the headliner, which appeared decidedly downmarket). Fast observe – I didn’t get an opportunity to drive the bottom GT.

Most of my drive time got here in a Sport DCT with the Tech Package deal. Acceleration was good however not nice – sufficient pep for passing however just a little extra low-end grunt could be appreciated. Its trip was on the tough facet – bumps are undoubtedly felt — however not totally disagreeable on the freeway.

Hyundai obtained the steering principally proper with this one – it’s taut and responsive, particularly in Sport mode. It’s on the sunshine facet, however not a lot that you just lose really feel. Sadly, most “curves” on our drive have been simply navigated doglegs, and visitors saved our speeds down, so I didn’t get a full sense of the automotive’s talents when pushed. Nevertheless, the pattern means that, as famous above, the GT Sport is lots sporty however maybe not fairly as grin-generating because the Focus or particularly the three.

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My time within the GT Sport with a handbook was transient. I discovered the clutch take-up to be a bit abrupt at first nevertheless it didn’t take lengthy to regulate, whereas the shifter had exact however barely lengthy throws. Different gearboxes on this class supply extra enjoyable, however this one is participating sufficient to fulfill stick-shift consumers.

Should you go for the handbook, observe that there isn’t a Sport mode – the default tuning for the steering is similar because the Sport mode within the DCT. I used to be informed there’s no Sport mode as a result of with a handbook there’s no want for shift logic — it’s as much as the motive force. Is smart.

Since deciding on the handbook prices you the Tech Package deal, you’ll say goodbye to navigation, however by no means concern, as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be found with out the Tech Package deal. So too are blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross visitors alert.

I didn’t want heavy braking usually, however the automotive’s brakes appeared as much as the duty.

Seems to be-wise, the GT is good-looking however not a head-turner. I like Hyundai’s new grille on this utility, and the GT has a pleasant sweeping look that retains it from showing too boxy. Inside, add Hyundai to the listing of firms utilizing an infotainment-display display screen that appears tacked on to the highest of the sprint (versus built-in). Beneath sits easy local weather controls, and there’s loads of open area on the sprint. Gauges and the motive force’s data middle that sits between the speedo and tach are simple. Sure, there are knobs for audio tuning and quantity, together with a number of massive buttons for different key features.

Rear-seat area was acceptable however tight for my tall body, and the rear cargo space is class aggressive.

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Should you can stay with out all the additional gizmos and doo-dads, a manual-trans GT Sport will value a hair beneath $25Ok and would possibly current a worth for discount hunters who need a sporty hatch – it’s cheaper than a well-equipped Mazda three Grand Touring with handbook (and naturally, Ford now not gives a stick within the Focus hatch under the ST trim). A Mazda three Touring prices only a bit extra when well-equipped.

The place it will get sticky is with the DCT – a loaded Focus Titanium prices much less, and at almost $30Ok for my check GT Sport with Tech Package deal, I might in all probability get a Focus ST. Clearly commuters received’t cross-shop the ST to the GT Sport, but when a Focus Titanium undercuts the GT Sport, that’s going to be a difficulty for Hyundai. If commuters are going for the cheaper automotive, and fans are spending the identical cash on one thing extra enjoyable to drive, that places the automotive in a tough spot.

Should you’re questioning about an N model that would stand as much as the ST/GTI crowd, properly, I forgot to ask and am firing myself for the offense. I’ve reached out to Hyundai and can replace if I hear again, however I anticipate to get a boilerplate response about not commenting on future product. An N model with, say, 250 horsepower could be an intriguing alternative.

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The Elantra GT Sport principally delivers on being enjoyable to drive, and is cheaper than a lot of the hopped-up hatches within the phase. But you could find “mainstream” hatches which might be enjoyable to drive for much less cash (Golf Wolfsburg and the aforementioned Focus leap to thoughts) or for the same value (cough, Mazda three, cough). That retains it from standing out. Nonetheless, the manual-transmission mannequin might function a discount purchase for these keen to forego some driver’s aids and comfort options corresponding to cooled seats, nav, energy driver’s seat, and a panoramic sunroof.

Hyundai has constructed a sporty hatch that’s pleasing to drive, however I concern it’s going to get misplaced within the crowd on this class. Doable treatments embrace the supply of a stick shift with the Tech Package deal and/or an N model.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

My emotions concerning the sixth-generation Sonata have been that it was a great-looking automotive that wasn’t all that enjoyable to drive. When the seventh-gen automotive was launched, I flipped that round – the automotive was rather more enjoyable to drive however the styling was a nap.

Hyundai appears to have felt the identical approach – the refreshed Sonata obtained an entire new entrance clip (not simply grille) and rear finish. The most important adjustments are the grille (extra of that Hyundai “cascading” factor) and LED daytime operating lights and headlights. The openings across the DRLs now has chrome accents and the DRLs themselves take a look that Hyundai stated was impressed by catamarans, whereas out again the trunk launch is hidden within the brand and the license plate strikes all the way down to the bumper. There are new wheels and an up to date inside, too, for individuals who are curious.

On street, the Sonata I drove – the two.0T Restricted trim with the two.Zero-liter turbo 4 and eight-speed computerized transmission (a primary for a FWD automotive, says Hyundai) – didn’t strike me as a lot modified, and that’s good. It had punch for passing and a pleasing freeway trip with noise tuned out. Dealing with-wise, it’s not dangerous nevertheless it’s no Accord or Mazda 6. I needed to put it in Sport mode to get essentially the most out of it – the default Consolation setting simply didn’t give taut-enough throttle or steering responses.

The inside adjustments are principally delicate – the middle stack has fewer buttons now, and the steering wheel has three spokes (together with a D-cut form on some trims). Refined is sweet right here, as the within of the Sonata was by no means the issue.

Hyundai has cooked up a better-looking automotive that also isn’t as sharp as what it changed, and it didn’t take away any of its driving dynamics. It’s a greater Sonata, however that might not be sufficient with the 2 most dominant names within the midsize class each being all-new for 2018. Think about it a placeholder for now.

[Images: © Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars, Hyundai]

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