The 5-door hatchback segment has long been the most popular in Europe and now it seems to be heating up on this side of the Atlantic. Over there the Hyundai i30, as it's called, goes head-to-head against the top-selling Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Now the same Hyundai, called the Elantra GT in this country, goes on sale later this month at a starting price of $18,395 ( freight charges of $775) with a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic costs an additional $1000.
It might seem like a misnomer as the GT does not provide any extra performance over the sedan or coupe – they are all powered by the same 148-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. However, a sport-tuned suspension is available. When the 2013 Elantra GT was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February, it seemed to draw good reviews for its stylish lines and its `hatchback' practicality. Hyundai claims the Elantra GT has more interior space than the Ford Focus, Mazda3 or VW Golf. With an EPA rating of 39 mpg highway, Hyundai also claims this figure as best in class.
As we've come to expect with the latest offerings from Hyundai, the Elantra GT has many standard features, including heated front seats, cooled glove box, keyless entry, Bluetooth, driver knee bag, rear window wiper and spoiler, that you would normally expect to be optional.
If you want a sport-tuned suspension, larger 17-in. wheels and tries, leather seating surfaces, sunroof, driver's power seat and aluminum pedals you'll need the Style Package, which adds $2750 to the price. Then for another $2,350 you can add the Technology Package, which gives you a navigation system with 7-in. screen, rearview camera, automatic headlights and dual automatic temperature control.
In case you're wondering why we`re showing a picture of a British-licensed Elantra (actually an i30) towing a caravan, it's because on the same day Hyundai announced the pricing of the Elantra GT in this country, it, coincidentally, bragged about winning an award in the UK for being the `Best Value Hatchback' in the prestigious annual Towcar Awards. The ability to tow caravans is a big deal in the UK and the i30 is rated to tow 3307 lbs. Of course, most Americans would never dream of using a small car such as the Elantra GT to tow. Perhaps that's why it is only rated with a towing capacity of only 750 lb. in the U.S. I would not even be surprised if the owner's manual will suggest it not be used for towing – that's what the manual says in the Mazda3 I happen to be driving at present.