2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport: Baby Driver

Experience by Kimatni D. Rawlins

When you jump behind the wheel of any “sport” deviation of an automobile the key attribute should always be excitement. You want to experience the flow, energy and steady progression of that ride. It’s the very reason you made the purchase in the first place. Combine this trait with utility, mileage and convenience and now you have one of the most enjoyable hatchbacks on the streets with the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport. It’s the perfect getaway vehicle for “Baby Drivers.”

Forecasted to grow this year the hatchback segment has always been a special one. Think about the cult following the VW Golf created and the various modifications made to its platform such as the R32 and the Golf R. There is just something special about a pocket rocket manifested in the body of a hatch! Hyundai is now primed to play a stronger, competing role in this category against the likes of the aforementioned VW Golf, Mazda3 and Honda’s Civic with its “European i30 inspired” Elantra GTs and Elantra GT Sports.

“The new Elantra GT brings more to the North American shores for the 2018 model year,” stated Scott Margason, director, product planning, Hyundai Motor America. “More space and features inside. More aggression and European flair outside. And more options under the hood. I’m particularly excited to showcase the GT Sport, a true hot hatch.”

Now in its second model year the all-new 5-door Elantra GT is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor and features 121.4 cubic feet of interior volume, essentially offering storage solutions you typically find in crossovers. For example, you can make Home Depot runs for sizeable items or hit the trails with your mountain bike without the need for a hitch. The 2018 Elantra GT is also stronger, lighter and stiffer than the 2017 model, which translates to 22% more rigidity. Basically, Hyundai is ascertaining that your daily commute is filtered with fun, excitement and engagement. Especially if you opt for the GT Sport as I did for a test drive in the residential community of Torrey Pines on the Northern Coast of San Diego, California.

While the Elantra GT receives the baseline 2-liter inline 4-­cylinder with 162-horsepower, the mightier GT Sport is emboldened by Hyundai’s 1.6-liter Turbo GDI 4­-cylinder with 201-horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.0 can be paired with either a 6-­speed manual or an automatic transmission while the 1.6 flows with either the 6­-speed manual or the dynamic 7-speed Dual Clutch transmission with paddle shifters. I must admit that I typically reserve my Racer X ambitions for the circuit but boy did the Elantra GT Sport have me flying down the county highway.

My vehicle was menacing as ever with its Black Noir Pearl exterior hue and Black on Black interior design. Red stitching and highlights, larger alloy pedals, bolstered leather seats and a thick, sporty steering wheel with thumb indentations created an atmosphere acknowledging that I was driving something special. More importantly, the bravado of the GT Sport is tough as nails. As the honorable Deion Sanders would say, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good!” It all makes sense starting with the Korean manufacturer’s cascading grille, 18” alloy spins wrapped in 225/40 R18 Hankook rubber (where are the Michelins?), a tailgate spoiler, vertical LED DRLs, LED taillights, full LED headlights and a Panoramic Sunroof. The Elantra GT Sport definitely looks good which made me feel good while enjoying the active beach ambiance. And now I know it certainly plays good with the sports tuned suspension, larger brakes and bigger wheels. In fact, Hyundai schooled the GT Sport at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany to make sure it was performance worthy. It’s also the reason the vehicle produced minimal body roll around those mountainous Cali curves during my drive time allotment.

Technology abound, the GT Sport is enhanced with a sophisticated cabin inclusive of a floating 8” center display and navigation, 7-speaker Infinity Premium Audio with Clari­Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Qi wireless charging pad for smart phones, Blue Link Connected Services (3-year complimentary service), Blue Link Remote Start, Blue Link Multimedia/Map Update, ventilated and heated front seats and much more.

Moreover, Elantra GT safety was a top priority for Hyundai engineers. Some of the advanced systems you can expect include Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Smart Cruise Control with stop/start capability, Attention Assist, High Beam Assist and Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross­traffic Alert.

People want to drive diverse vehicles ripe with versatility, fuel efficiency, technology and nimbleness. So why not comingle the qualities of a compact sedan with that of a small crossover and knock yourself out with a 5-door hatchback that delivers the best of both worlds.

2018 Elantra GT