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2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Review: First Impressions and Photo Gallery

13_18Hyundai_Elantra_GT_ES_13.jpg 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

CARS.COM — Hyundai’s redesigned 2018 Elantra GT manages to be both more practical and also sportier, particularly in its new GT Sport trim.

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The new Elantra GT, unveiled at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, will take on rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf or Mazda3 to compete for active, often younger buyers who need greater utility than a sedan, but want more driving fun than an SUV.

04_18Hyundai_Elantra_GT_ES_04.jpg 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

The newly horizontal exterior design is classier and more upscale, though if you are among the folks who find Audis too conservative, you’ll miss the swoopy curves and angles of the outgoing model. Versus rivals, if you like the Golf you’ll be pleased; if you’re attracted to the more sensual curves of the Mazda3, you’re already yawning.

20_18Hyundai_Elantra_GT_ES_20.jpg 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

But beyond the beauty contest, that angular design and wagonlike roofline keeps about the same overall city-friendly dimensions, but adds 8 percent more usable cargo room. That will look great as you’re trying to fit a mountain bike in the back. The hatch opening is large for this class, and the cargo area is notably wide and deep, though there’s a two-level load floor with the backseat folded.

27_18Hyundai_Elantra_GT_OEM.jpg 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT | Manufacturer image

The backseat has enough room for two people (but not three) to sit behind someone my size (6 feet 2 inches), though headroom if you opt for the dramatic panoramic moonroof, and you should, is just barely enough. The backseat also gets its own air-conditioning vents.

27_18Hyundai_Elantra_GT_ES_27.jpg 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

While not as stylish as the outgoing model, the dash and controls are much less busy. The materials seem up to the same high level as the current model, and the leather option feels a tad higher quality. That said, there still is too much hard plastic on surfaces closer to the floor, and the GT has Hyundai’s usual hard-plastic front seatbacks.

The most prominent feature of the new interior, however, is the larger 8-inch display that “floats” above the dash. People love these tablet-style displays or hate ’em, but the new Elantra GT has one of the best executions out there. The height is just right for driver-eye level and close enough for easy reach to the redundant knobs and control buttons that also are incorporated into the glossy unit.

The cabin also features ample storage spaces, including a covered area for devices with USB connectivity, 12-volt charging and optional wireless charging power.

The GT Sport, which aims at rivals such as the Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, takes the interior to a sportier level with red stitching and metallic red trim. The red is a subtle shade with coppery undertones and a pleasing satin-metallic finish. The thread in the stitching matches, down to a slight metallic glitter.

Hyundai says compact hatchbacks like the redesigned GT appeal to a younger, active and somewhat upscale buyer who needs greater utility than a compact sedan, but wants more driving fun than an SUV. This has the utility; we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on one to judge whether the new Sport GT, in particular, delivers on the fun.

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