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Chicago 2017: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Drops the Cute Act

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT driving shot, Image: Hyundai

Hyundai lifted the veil on the next-generation Elantra GT today at the Chicago Auto Show, revealing a compact hatch that dispenses with the “cute little car” template.

For 2018, the Elantra GT grows in all the proportions that matter, putting forward a more mature design that — Hyundai hopes — looks more expensive than its sticker price. It also offers up more power, if you’re willing to dole out a little more.

Longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model, the 2018 version adopts an upright corporate grille more closely aligned with its sedan cousin, a longer hood, and an uninterrupted character line running the length of the body. Gone are the Mazda 2-like front fender bulges.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT rear 3/4, Image: Hyundai

Like before, the GT is based on the European-market Hyundai i30. The third generation of that model arrived for the 2017 model year, boasting a greater measure of high-strength steel and structural adhesive to quell any gripes about body stiffness. Hyundai claims a 22-percent increase in rigidity in the new model thanks to a doubling (to 53 percent) of the amount of high-strength steel in the body structure.

Stripped down, the new GT shaves 61 pounds off the weight compared to its predecessor. Despite the vehicle’s upright stance, the new model retains the same 0.30 coefficient of drag as the outgoing model.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT driving shot, red, Image: Hyundai

On the base GT, power from the standard direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder has fallen from 173 hp on 2017 models to 162 hp for 2018. That suggests Hyundai has tinkered around with the mill’s efficiency. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.

However, to make the GT’s name ring more true, Hyundai has seen fit to add a Sport variant endowed with the turbocharged 1.6-liter four found in the Elantra Sport. In GT Sport guise, the hatch generates the same 201 hp and 195 lb-ft as its four-door sibling, and is available with the same six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT interior, Image: Hyundai

Ticking the Sport box also adds a fully independent multilink rear suspension, 18-inch wheels, and larger brake rotors for and aft. Drivers of vanilla GTs benefit from a rear torsion beam suspension tune and standard 17-inch wheels.

Because buyers tend to choose hatchbacks for a reason, the GT’s cargo capacity has expanded for 2018, though its passenger volume has only budged upwards by half a cubic foot. Cargo capacity grows from 23 cubic feet to 25, while capacity with the rear seat folded down expands from 51 cu. ft. to 55.1. Hyundai expects a large car classification from the EPA for its new hatch.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT with trunk open on beach, Image: Hyundai

To boost its value proposition, the GT sees more technology than ever before. A long list of driver assist features are available, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, high beam assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control adopts a start/stop system. Drivers can also choose from the full gamut of smartphone connectivity options.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT instrument cluster, Image: Hyundai

In a nod to convenience, Hyundai has bundled rear window and side mirror defrost functions into its Blue Link Remote Start feature, allowing drivers to melt the ice, literally, via a smartphone app while relaxing in the cozy confines of their home.

On all GTs, the upgraded AVN 5.0 infotainment unit sees its display screen grow by one inch, while a bird’s-eye view has been added to the navigation system. That screen now rises from the reworked dash, rather than sitting in the middle of the center stack.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT and GT Sport go on sale this summer.

[Images: Hyundai Motor America]

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