Wither the manual transmission; the overall take rate for stick shifts has hit a single digit percentage. Some carmakers have responded by banishing manuals to the lowest trim levels, but others understand there are buyers who still want a stick with all the toppings. Hyundai gets it and offers up its Elantra GT M/T.
Starting at $19,560 including destination, the Elantra GT (GT means hatchback, not coupe or sedan) has a long standard feature list, including selectable steering modes, heated seats, satellite radio and iPod/USB and AUX inputs.
The tested Elantra GT had $5,925 of options to bring the price to $25,485.
The $2,550 Style Package brought the 17-inch alloy wheels and a sport-tuned suspension, among many other features – it’s listed at the end of this review.
The Tech Package was more expensive at $3,250 but had more high-dollar items like navigation and the panoramic sunroof.
The Elantra GT’s engine is a middle-of-the-road mill, with no fancy turbos or a weirdly low displacement. It’s a 2.0-liter four that produces 173 horsepower and 154 lb.-ft. of torque, and it outpaces the Ford Focus‘s 2.0-liter by 13 horses and eight lb.-ft. of torque, though the Focus hits back by scoring two better than the Elantra GT’s 28 mpg EPA overall estimate.
If you wanted an Elantra that was more efficient than the Focus, you’d get the sedan with the 145-horsepower, 1.8-liter that goes the Focus 2.0-liter one mpg higher. You can still get the Elantra GT’s 2.0-liter in the sedan, just specify the Sport trim.
The Elantra GT’s standard six-speed manual transmission works just fine. Throws are medium-long and well-damped without being mushy. The engine has plenty of power but isn’t really a revver – it’s not one where you’re chasing the redline, as the noise and vibration in the upper rev ranges tell you to shift more than to keep going. That’s when you want a good shifter, so you can move the gears to keep the engine in its mid-range sweet spot, and that’s what this manual does.
The Elantra GT’s handling mirrors that of an Elantra Coupe I drove last year, which had a compliant ride and a confident response. It’s a hard car to fault, but it is also slow to stir emotion, while the exterior styling has an immediate impact. It’s a case where the car does everything you’d ask but doesn’t register while it’s doing it. Maybe the Styling and Handling departments should go do a Ropes Course together to imbue the former’s zeal into the latter’s.
Inside, the Elantra’s seats are broad and comfortable. The test car’s leather is part of that extensive Style Package.
Headroom is decent for six-footers, even with the panoramic roof.
Cheers for the driver’s power seat cushion having height adjustments for both the front and rear, allowing you to tip it up for extra thigh support. Jeers that the power lumbar support only adjusts in and out, not up and down, which is disagreeable if you’re too tall for it to land in the right place.
The rear seat is hospitable, though its 34.6 inches of legroom keeps it feeling compact.
The cargo area is generous, with enough room for a pile of thrift store donations that never in a million years looked like it would all fit.
The instrument panel has a strong vertical emphasis, which will likely eventually be phased out as it has been in the more horizontal redesign of the larger Sonata’s panel. Still, it works fine, with a quick pre-flight being all you need to get a grip on things. There are quality materials throughout, the blue displays are soothing and the Aluminum Pedals (another feature of the Style Package) are a nice touch. This environment helps make the Elantra a very pleasing highway cruiser.
The Elantra GT deserves a look if you’re looking for a well-equipped manual hatchback. The Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf put up a good fight, with both offering a bit more brio over the road than the Elantra GT does, but the Hyundai has its own virtues. Its combination of a laid-back attitude and a direct-feeling shifter make the Elantra GT feel relaxed and still quite controllable.
The stick shift coupled with a sport suspension and a full load of options is a combo that is diminishing, but the Elantra GT does it well.
2014 Hyundai Elantra GT M/T
Base Price: $18,750
Price as Tested: $25,485
Style Package: $2,550
17-inch Alloy Wheels With P215/45R17 Tires
Side Repeater Mirrors
Leather Seating Surfaces
Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel And Shift Knob
Power Driver’s Seat With Power Lumbar Support
Driver Auto Up Window
Proximity Key Entry With Push Button Start And Immobilizer
LED Tail Lights
Under Floor Storage
Hyundai Blue Link Telematics System
Tech Package: $3,250
Navigation System With Rear View Camera
Dual Automatic Temperature Control
Carpeted Floor Mats: $125
Destination Charge: $810
Amenable road manners
Styling more exciting than the driving
Trendy instrument panel