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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
May 7, 2003
Posted on 9/25/02 Vehicle Overview
Hyundais most popular model slots between the subcompact Accent and the midsize Sonata in both size and price. An Elantra GT five-door hatchback joined the regular four-door GLS sedan in 2002. For the 2003 model year, a four-door GT sedan with a conventional trunk joins the hatchback in Hyundais sporty Elantra GT series. The Elantra earned new styling and larger dimensions for the 2001 model year.
European-themed GT models promise the comfort and handling characteristics of a Euro-sedan. They get a tauter suspension with higher-rate springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and larger-diameter stabilizer bars. All-disc brakes, fog lamps and five-spoke alloy wheels are installed. The same 140-horsepower engine found in the regular Elantra powers the GT models.
The Elantra is highlighted by strong character lines, and its styling is more chiseled and European-looking than on prior models. The Elantra rides a 102.7-inch wheelbase, measures 177.1 inches long overall, stands 56.1 inches tall and stretches 67.7 inches wide.
Each Elantra model seats five occupants. The three-place, 60/40-split, folding rear seat expands the sedans trunk space, which totals 11 cubic feet. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a four-speaker sound system with a cassette player, a rear defogger, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. A six-speaker sound system with a CD player is optional.
A unique instrument panel in GT models features purple-lit VDO gauges. Leather seating surfaces are included in the GT.
Under the Hood
Both Elantra models are powered by a 140-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that mates with a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags are standard in all models. Antilock brakes are optional for the GT.
Even though the Elantra isnt overly enticing at first, it tends to grow on an open-minded driver and then turns into an appealing little automobile. Performance with the manual shift is surprisingly frisky, and the Elantra accelerates with spirit. The gearbox and clutch are well matched to the engine, which permits a gentle engagement for easy takeoffs. But putting it in Reverse can be a chore at times. Except for a slight growl during acceleration, the Elantra is quiet on the road. The automatic transmission is likely to sap some of the strength from the 140-hp engine.
The Elantra manages to whip through corners and turn with ease, almost with a passion that is uncommon for a car of its class. Some body lean is evident in curves, but its not enough to be troubling. The Elantras ride is pleasantly easygoing for a small car because its suspension copes adeptly with rough spots.
The seats are especially attractive, firmly cushioned and have very good back support. Compared to other cars glove boxes, the Elantras holds more items than most these days. Backseat legroom is also amazing, and even the center rear position isnt too bad.
The Elantras handling is noticeably, but not dramatically, tauter on the shapely GT hatchback, and ride comfort suffers only modestly. This car is fun to drive because of the easy-to-use manual gearshift and well-behaved clutch. The GTs leather upholstery is a pleasant bonus. The gauges on the GT are large, but their distinctive hue isnt the easiest to read at a glance during nighttime driving.