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Aaron Gold

Hyundai Elantra GT: I was wrong

By February 21, 2013

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2013 Hyundai Elantra GTLast week I mentioned that I was revisiting the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Now that I've spent a week with the car, I've decided to revise my review.

My major complaint about the Elantra GT was the suspension setup -- it's fine most of the time, but starts to lose its stuff when the pavement turns crappy. In my original conclusion, I said that would be enough to keep me from buying the car.

In my week-long drive, I found the same problems with the suspension -- but in real-world driving, they just didn't crop up nearly as often. Big freeway expansion joints and badly-patched pavement showed the Elantra GT in its worst light, but as long as the roads were in decent shape, so was the Elantra GT.

Another thing that really struck me was the styling. The car I originally drove (and photographed) was dark blue; this week's car was white, which showed off the creases and the all-black roof. I gave the Elantra GT props for its good looks, but after a week of seeing it parked outside my house, I developed a much deeper appreciation for what an attractive car this is.

Not that it all went well; by the end of the week, I had learned to loathe the clutch, which doesn't give much feedback and makes smooth starts tricky. (My wife Robin came back from a drive in the car and said she thought she'd gotten rusty at driving a manual; I told her the problem wasn't her.)

Still, after a week, I realized that if I were going to spend $20-$25k on a hatchback, I would be foolish to dismiss the Elantra GT out of hand simply because the suspension doesn't always play nice. And I've rewritten my review to say just that.

So how did I come to what I now think was the wrong conclusion? My original drive took place on a press preview, where I spent about half a day with the car, swapping driving duties with another journalist. That in itself isn't a problem; we were in San Diego, driving on roads I'm familiar with, and one of the few skills you learn in this job is to get a feel for a car's in a relatively short time. But this trip also covered the Veloster Turbo, a car that I found rather disappoiting. I'm thinking some of my VelTurbo angst may have rubbed off on the Elantra GT. I'm not particularly proud of that, but I'm only human. (That said, the Elantra Coupe, the third car I drove at that event, seems to have escaped unscathed.)

Fortunately, the beauty of writing for a web site rather than a magazine or a newspaper is that if I decide I'm wrong, I can make a change. Check out my revised Elantra GT review. -- Aaron Gold


Photo Aaron Gold

February 21, 2013 at 10:16 am
(1) Ross says:

20-25K? Is that the MSRP or what you actually pay?

You can definitely get a Mazdaspeed3 for that, and maybe a GTI if you finagle it right. I’ve got to assume that’s the MSRP, and you’ll actually pay a bit less.

Of course not everyone wants a turbo hatch (I can’t imagine the Elantra’s clutch is more finicky than my MS3), but that just seems high for what your get.

Either that or I’m just getting my old man price grumpiness on.

February 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm
(2) Ted says:

I guess your check from Hyundai arrived. Makes it more appealing after you cash the check huh?

February 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm
(3) Kurt says:

Apparently Ted doesn’t know how to read anything except the headline. Some people just have to be rude.

February 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm
(4) Zdravko - Toronto says:

Ted, if any auto journalist would not take cheques from the manufacturers, that’s Aaron. Why don’t you read a few reviews first and then comment?

February 22, 2013 at 12:11 am
(5) DavidH says:

Nice looking car and crisp styling on the Elantra. The Sonata is also very, very popular in SoCal. They are what the Honda’s used to be about 10 years ago.

Really glad the Hyundai cars don’t have the garish Mazda “grin grille”. Those are quite possibly the dumbest looking cars from the front end. I would laugh at the car salesperson if they showed me that dorky looking car…

Thanks for your review!

February 22, 2013 at 8:35 am
(6) Eric says:

I’m not a Hyundai person and probably never will be. That said, I do happen to think this is one of the better looking hatchbacks on the market, and at least competitively priced. It looks a lot like the i30 I used to see all over Germany when I was there. I can think of a number of other similar cars, such as the GTI, that I’d rather have for about the same money though.

I’m also not a fan of hatchbacks. I know some people love them, and that’s fine. I had one when I was in Germany, and found that although it was fine for me, it would never have worked as a family car. The trunk is just too small when the back seats are up. I’d much rather have the same car in a wagon package with the extra storage room, considering that most wagons today are essentially elongated hatchbacks.

February 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm
(7) DFI says:

I gotta say if I was in the market for a 20K-25K 5-door I would seriously consider this car. Sure the Speed3 or the GTI would probably be a little more fun to drive but once you pack on the tech you are fast approaching 30K. To get a fully loaded decent performing 5-door with all the extra tech for under 25K is quite attractive. Gearheads will certainly pass it up and flock to the GTI but the young dad on a budget who doesn’t want to give in to the boring corolla or civic is going to love this GT.

Having test driven this car I agree the clutch is probably the biggest disappointment but not a deal-breaker.

February 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm
(8) Hawaiian Don says:

I agree with David’s spot on post. I think this is a really sharp little car and the Mazda’s front is absurd looking.
However, I would rather take a stripped down GTI over this gussied hatch for the same $$$. Its ALL about the handling to me.

February 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm
(9) Aaron Gold - Guide to Cars says:

Ted: Actually, they’re using gift cards now. — Aaron

February 26, 2013 at 11:48 am
(10) Jess says:

Actually Aaron, I think you were correct. They are great looking but when I got thrown sideways after going over RR tracks. I ruled it out.I’m in the Northeast with lots of pot holes. I bought a Veloster instead.

July 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm
(11) Jim1001 says:

What about a real GTI ?
(Conceived in Germany)

;-) )

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