The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback has a roomy cabin that includes 25 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row seats are in the upright position. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback has a roomy cabin that includes 25 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row seats are in the upright position. (Manufacturer photo)

Hyundai outdoes itself with the all-new Elantra GT hatchback

Sportiness, European styling and a roomy cabin are highlights of the compact car’s many attributes.

Hyundai worked wonders for its Elantra compact car by remaking it for 2017 with standout styling it couldn’t really claim previously. However, for 2018 they’ve outdone themselves by introducing the 2018 Elantra GT, a sporty, delightful little hatchback with European styling, entertaining driving characteristics and an extra power punch.

There are two versions of the 2018 Elantra GT: the regular GT and the fortified GT Sport. Both are powered by a four-cylinder engine, but the GT has a 2.0-liter with 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, while the GT Sport has a turbocharged 1.6-liter producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet.

Both versions are also available with a six-speed manual transmission or an automatic transmission that has six speeds with the 2.0L engine and seven speeds with the 1.6L engine.

Fuel economy ratings for the 2.0L engine are 23/31/26 mpg with a manual transmission and 24/32/27 with an automatic. The 1.6L engine is rated 22/29/25 mpg with a manual transmission and 26/32/28 mpg with an automatic.

My tester was a GT Sport with automatic transmission. Though its base price including an $885 destination charge is just a bit above the $25,000 mark, a tasty Sport Tech package ($3,850) brought the total price to within striking distance of 30 grand. But it does add some pretty attractive stuff, such as a panoramic sunroof, navigation with an 8-inch screen, a premium Infinity audio system with seven speakers, smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, wireless smartphone charging pad, and Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity and multimedia system.

Ventilated front seats, which we didn’t think we needed in the Pacific Northwest until now that we’re having 90-degree summers, are also part of the Sport Tech package.

The 2018 Elantra GT is lower and wider than its predecessor, giving it what the automotive industry commonly calls a more “aggressive” stance. I prefer to use the word “assertive,” not because the Elantra GT doesn’t meet the standard, but because I’m getting tired of aggression in general in our culture, and the word no longer sounds like a compliment, even for a car.

So anyway, the Elantra GT is handsome and assertive-looking and boy is it fun to drive. Not only that, but the usefulness of the hatchback layout gives it cred as a cargo hauler when it isn’t busy providing seating for four people (or five, if they aren’t real large and don’t dislike one another).

Cabin space overall is 121.4 cubic feet, and the rear cargo area measures 24.9 cubic feet with the second-row seats in upright position, 55.1 cubic feet with the seats folded.

I was super comfortable in the driver’s seat all week, and constantly appreciative of the Elantra GT’s quiet interior, sporty ride, terrific audio system and generous assortment of stowage spaces. Funny, my tolerance for household clutter is kind of on the high side, but for car clutter it’s close to zero.

2018 HYUNDAI ELANTRA GT SPORT

Base price, including destination charge: $25,235

Price as driven: $29,210

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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