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2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

06:47AM - 03.06.'13

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If ever there were an award for the most bastardized label in the automotive world, the Gran Turismo/Grand Touring/GT moniker would be an easy frontrunner. Once reserved solely for sporty coupes, the GT letters have taken a big hit over the years, but things got downright embarrassing with the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. For 2013, Hyundai is helping to muddy the waters even further by slapping a GT badge onto the hatchback version of its top-selling model, the Elantra.

In the case of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT, though, this name is just recycling the Elantra GT name from the early 2000s, albeit on a more stylish, modern and all-around better five-door. Hyundai has created quite a competitive lineup since its Fluidic Sculpture design language hit the market, but one area that it has paled in comparison to rival automakers is in the hatchback department. With a plethora of budget-minded compact cars currently on sale, Hyundai now finds itself in the unique position of being the only automaker to offer a compact sedan, coupe and hatchback with the 2013 Elantra. Still, with the compact segment more crowded than a public school classroom, we spent a week with the new Elantra GT to see how it stacks up against the hatchback competition.

Its dimensions make it arguably the most attractive and proportionate among the three Elantra bodystyles.

Compact car design has come a long way in recent years, and Hyundai has arguably been leading the way with the fifth-generation Elantra that is now a couple of years old. With their bulging wheel arches, strong character lines and oversized grilles, each version of the Elantra – coupe, sedan and hatchback – shares many traits with the others, yet all have their own identity. As is often the case with sedan and hatchback models, the GT is much shorter than the sedan, with its overall length reduced by nine inches and even a wheelbase that has been cut by two inches, but it is also two inches taller and marginally wider. The GT's dimensions make it arguably the most attractive and well-proportioned among the three Elantra bodystyles while providing the added passenger and cargo volume expected from a hatchback.

Even better, the 2013 Elantra GT has a more conventional hatchback design as opposed to the previous Elantra Touring that was a boxier station wagon. Both models are actually based on the European Hyundai i30, which is more like a close cousin to the Elantra rather than an identical twin, giving the Elantra sedan and GT similar but noticeably unique appearances. Aside from the obvious two-box design, the Elantra GT's face is more upright with a larger grille, and it also offers unique wheel options, including these 17-inch alloy wheels with chrome pockets. The subtle differences between the Elantra and the i30-based GT hatchback continue inside the car where the sedan's Coke-bottle-shaped center stack gets a flatter, more conservative look. Overall, Hyundai is pretty consistent with the interiors of its current lineup, so you'll still get plenty of dark colors, swoopy lines and blue backlighting. Hyundai's interior design work has definitely helped step up the game of a segment that not too long ago saw power windows and door locks as standout features. The features list on this tester includes standard equipment like Blutetooth, heated front seats and Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, as well as options like perforated leather seats, a panoramic sunroof and navigation system. Even with all of these features, the Elantra GT should still be fairly priced for potential buyers to cross-shop other hatchbacks since it comes standard in a single, well-equipped trim level with a limited number of option packages.

The base Elantra GT comes in at just under $20,000, but our tester came with both the Style and Tech packages that make the inside of the car feel like anything but an economy hatchback. As tested, this Elantra GT rolled into our driveway with a $25,365 asking price, which is priced competitively against a similarly optioned Ford Focus 5-Door while carrying a feature list that is enough to make some Japanese competitors – namely the Mazda3 and Toyota Matrix – blush.

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