2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Preview

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT

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Competes with: Volkswagen Golf, plus hatchback models of the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda3 and Honda Civic

Looks like: The swoopy 2017 Elantra GT grew up and studied abroad; there's more than a hint of Europe in the look.

Drivetrain: Standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder putting out 162 horsepower, mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; the GT Sport trim gets a 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic; front-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: TBA

Hyundai has redesigned the Elantra GT hatchback for 2018 with all-new sheet metal, new technology and new trim with an added dose of fun under the hood that should better fit the hatch's sporty image.

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The 2018 Elantra GT hatchback is the U.S. version of Hyundai's third-generation global i30 model, which has been redesigned with the European market in mind; it goes on sale there in March. The first generation i30 was sold here in its small wagon form as the Elantra Touring; the second-generation hatchback version took the GT name, but has been offered only in one (albeit nice) trim with modest power and just two option packages.

That will change with the 2018 Elantra GT, which gets a new look, tech and safety improvements and more space, plus a new uplevel GT Sport trim with sportier exterior and interior styling, an upgraded chassis and turbocharged power.

Hyundai calls the new GT Sport a hot hatch. Maybe it's not quite as hot as a VW Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST — which the model seems aimed to rival — but it's definitely warmer. And this hatchback is reported to be one of the first models in line for a treatment by the brand's coming N performance line, at least for the European market.

Exterior

The swoopy look is gone. The 2018 Elantra GT leads with a signature Hyundai grille and standard vertical LED daytime running lights; full LED headlights are available. But there's more than a hint of Europe now in the overall design, with a conservative Audi flavor on the sides and even some VW Golf strokes in the rear. The new look brings the 2018 GT more in line with the current 2017 Elantra sedan, which already traded in its curves for a more conservative, Euro-flavored design.

In size, the 2018 model's wheelbase remains the same, but the new version is about a half-inch lower in height and about an inch-and-a-half longer. Hyundai says more high-strength steel has made the structure 22 percent more rigid than the outgoing model, as well as 61 pounds lighter.

Interior

While the exterior dimensions are little changed, the new shape and efficient packaging have added interior space, Hyundai says, including about 25 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row and 55 cubic feet with the second row folded.

As with the exterior, designers have given the interior a less busy, more conservative look. But the bigger changes are in its technology, starting with a standard 8-inch audio display (up from 7 inches) floating above the dash tablet-style at the driver's eye level. The GT also is the first model to get Hyundai's new-generation multimedia system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are standard; a premium Infinity audio system and wireless smartphone charging are available.

The Hyundai Blue Link connectivity app has been expanded to add control of the rear defroster and heated side mirrors into the remote start and climate control feature. It also can be activated with voice commands via Amazon Alexa devices.

Under the Hood

The 2018 base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 162 horsepower, down 11 hp from 2017's rating; it's mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Things get spicier with the GT Sport, which has the 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter engine borrowed from the Elantra sedan's Sport model. It also can be had with a six-speed manual, but the automatic is a seven-speed dual-clutch. The GT also adds 18-inch wheels and larger brake rotors, and changes out the base model's torsion beam rear suspension for a multilink independent setup. We'll be eager to get our hands on one to see if it lives up to its hot hatch promise.

Safety

The 2018 Elantra GT will offer a full suite of advanced safety and driver assist technology, including adaptive cruise control with stop/start capability, a front crash collision system with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, a driver attention assist, blind spot alert and rear cross-traffic alert.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT; Manufacturer images

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