2017 Hyundai Elantra
Compact sedan and hatchback with seating for five
Affordable, well-equipped car that’s good on gas
Can feel like the inexpensive compact it is
Value for money
What would I change?
More sound deadening, more variety to interior colours and options
How I would spec it?
GT Sport manual
Canadians, like Europeans, have long embraced the hatchback, especially so in the compact class. While sedans hold sway in the U.S. and sell reasonably well here, the hatch remains dear to our hearts for several reasons. Hyundai has just introduced its new Elantra GT, or hatch, that is being sold alongside the traditional four-door sedan. So if you’re interested in this popular compact, you’ve got a choice to make. Which to choose?
Buying a big screen TV? Carrying a few sticks of lumber now and then? Got a baby and all that precious comes with — the stroller, the diaper bags, the toys, the bikes? Here is where the GT outranks the sedan. With all the seats down in the GT, there’s 1,560 litres of cargo space. With the seats up, there’s still 705 litres. That’s significantly more than the sedan, which sees 408 litres in the trunk only. Hyundai doesn’t record a total cargo with the 60/40 split-seats folded, but it looks less, and it will be constrained by the opening between the trunk and rear seats. It will be hard to stuff a bike into the sedan. Those seats also require two steps to fold, needing a pull on either the right or left tab in the trunk, then a push on the seat from inside the car. Challenge one goes to the hatch.
Rear seat room
For a compact car, there’s a surprisingly good amount of legroom in the Elantra, both in sedan and hatch trim. Only the tallest teens will squawk there’s not enough. Those with small children or parents using car seats will find ample space for two. The rear doors of the sedan are large, making ingress and egress easy. Although designed for three, the rear seats would be snug for a trio. Actual legroom in the sedan is about an inch more than the hatch, but headroom in the sedan is more than an inch less than the hatch. In that regard, the two are tied.
Unless opting for the turbo-four in the hatch or sedan, the engine in either car will be a normally aspirated and direct-injected, 2.0-litre four-cylinder. But the hatch gets more power with the standard engine: 162 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque, for a gain of 15 horsepower and 18 lb.-ft. over the sedan. That is slightly offset by the GT’s extra 40-kilograms of weight. There’s also a slight fuel economy penalty in the GT, which averages 8.7 L/100 kilometres, compared to the sedan’s 8.0 flat with the manual and 7.4 with the automatic transmissions. The sedan, therefore, gets the edge here. Our sedan on test here was the manual-transmission Sport with the 1.6-litre turbo-four.
The GT’s very tidy D pillars hide very little, making it easy to see all around the car at all times. The rear window is pleasantly deep and the backup camera is good, so backing up is not an issue. The sedan, however, has a much more raked rear glass and slightly higher trunk deck, though again, the camera helps. But in driving the two cars, the sedan – while still easy to see out of – felt inferior to the vision in the hatch. The hatch takes this one.
Ride and handling
Riding on a slightly shorter wheelbase, the hatch delivers a pleasing ride, feeling slightly firmer than the sedan, which feels somewhat bigger even though the proportions are so close. Designed in Germany and tuned on the Nurburgring, the GT is sportier. Both are easy to drive and park. But for its sportier ride, the GT wins this category.
Sure, looks are subjective. And while the GT is brand new and thus fresher than the sedan that’s been selling for about a year, the GT is still a sharper looking car, in the same way the Civic hatch is superior-looking to the sedan. The GT’s short overhangs in front and rear, integrated rear spoiler and wraparound rear glass, and with dual exhaust on Sport models, adds a degree of sophistication to the model. The GT wins on looks.
The base Elantra starts at $16,000 and the GT at $20,450, so there’s a price to pay for the hatch. The differences in tax will also come into play, too. The sedan wins on price.
With so much more utility due to its cargo capacity, along with its better looks and visibility, the Elantra GT is definitely a superior choice – even if it costs an extra $4,000. But the GT also gets a slightly fresher interior with a standard 8-inch touch screen that’s better than that in the sedan. While the sedan will be suitable for many, the hatchback stands that much further ahead.
Type of vehicle
Front engine, four-door compact
Hatch: 2.0-litre four-cylinder; Sedan: 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder
Hatch: 162 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm, 150 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,700 rpm; Sedan: 201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 195 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,500 rpm
Hatch: Six-speed automatic; Sedan: Six-speed manual
Four-wheel disc with ABS
Hatch: P22545/R17; Sedan: P225/40R18
Price: Base / As Tested
Hatch: $20,450/$24,099; Sedan: $15,999/$24,999
Natural Resources Canada Fuel Economy
(L/100km) Hatch: 9.8 city, 7.3 highway Sedan: 9.1 city 6.6 highway
Hatch: Heated front seats, leather wrapped and heated front steering wheel, Blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, eight-inch touch screen with Android auto and Apple Car Play, back-up camera with guidelines, power windows and door locks, steering wheel audio controls, air conditioning and more. Sedan: Power door locks, windows and mirrors, air conditioning, leather seats, six-way manually adjustable front seats, heated front seats, 6-speaker AM/FM/XM/MP3 audio system, 7.0″ touch-screen with Android Auto, cruise control, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, steering wheel-mounted audio and telephone controls, blind spot detection w/rear cross-traffic alert, rearview camera w/dynamic guidelines and more
Hatch: Sunroof, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, dual auto climate control. Sedan: None