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2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Touring, Grandly
2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Those of you who’ve been automotively paying attention for the past six decades or so probably already realize that the “GT” in a car’s name originally stood for Grand Touring, or more precisely, the Italian gran turismo. In other words, it was usually a pretty spiffy car you wouldn’t have minded driving on a long trip. Preferably quickly. One that comes quickly to mind in the Bentley Continental GT.

The term has been watered down over the years though (I seem to remember a Chevrolet Vega GT), but the GT term still connotes something a bit different from the same car without it. In that case, the Elantra GT qualifies. It certainly seems like a better traveling car that the Elantra sedan or coupe—there’s so much more room for stuff. I think it has a sportier look than the regular Elantra, too. Yes, even though it’s really very station wagon-ish.

The Elantra GT was totally redone last year, and has been “refreshed” (new front end and wheels, as well as new options) for 2016. I had the chance to try one out last weekend at Fuccillo Hyundai, where General Sales Manager Dave Martin and Sales Guy Aaron Roach put me behind the wheel of a Galactic Gray GT with…a six-speed manual transmission! It seems to be getting harder and harder to find a stick-shifted car lately, but not on this day.

The manual tranny goes well with the GT’s 2.0L four (non-GTs have a 1.8), with short, precise throws. Hyundai tells us that the stick has three-cone synchronizers for first and second gears, double-cone for third, and single cone for fourth, fifth, and sixth. Being severely mechanically challenged I can only assume that this is a good thing. I did, however, understand the upshift light on the dash, which indicates the ideal shift points for saving fuel. It’s EPA-rated at 24/33 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission. The 2.0L was very responsive, and had a nice sound to it going through the gears. A six-speed automatic is available as a $1,000 option.

The GT’s handling, which is probably not on a par with any of the original Italian gran turismos, is still pretty darn good for a five-door practical hatchback. Steering, braking, and handling are all helped by the MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and shock absorbers. A coupled torsion beam helps stability, while a front stabilizer bar helps flatten out the ride on curves. The test car’s Style Package included 17” alloys, which helped complete the handling chores.

The GT’s interior is very roomy for a compact. Getting into a comforable driving position was a breeze with the optional power driver’s seat controls. With the seat back far enough to fit my six-foot frame, I also had no problem sitting in the back seat, and could well imagine taking a long ride back there. Head room is also generous front and rear, but the too-black interior could use a little color to break up the monotony. The back seat is a 60/40 folding affair, easily reached from the open hatchback, and with the seats folded there’s over 50 cu. ft. of storage back there. Heated front seats are standard on the GT, as is a cooling vent inside the glove box.

Elantra GT pricing starts at $18,800. The aforementioned styling package added another $1,975 and also included: fog lights; sport-tuned suspension; side mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators leather covered seating surfaces, shift knob, and steering wheel; aluminum pedals; power driver’s seat w/power lumbar; proximity key w/push-button start; driver’s side auto-up window; hidden cargo-area storage; and Blue Link® Telematics System. Mud guards and carpeted floor mats (plus delivery charge) brought the sticker price to a modest $21,820. This includes Hyundai’s 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.

All in all, it’s pretty hard to go wrong here. Time to do some grand touring!

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