Friday, July 20, 2018

Review Hyundai Tucson Specs and Photos

Hyundai did more than a little tinkering in freshening the 2019 Hyundai Tucson. Sure, there are a number of styling enhancements, like the new Hyundai cascading grille, new headlights, updated front/rear fascias and new taillights. Some noteworthy improvements inside reinvigorate the cabin, including a new center stack topped with a floating touchscreen and a new cluster.

In a move that seems to buck the industry and the Tuscon's competitive segment Hyundai scrapped the 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo in the current version. Although the 164-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder remains the standard engine on lower grades, the 1.6-liter turbo is giving way to a 181-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder for the SEL, Sport and Limited trims. This is a small increase in ponies, but a drop in torque from 195 lb-ft to 175. The Tuscon is also losing the available 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both engines will use a 6-speed automatic to spin the wheels.

There's no shortage of technology. Every 2019 Hyundai Tucson will come out of the box with standard forward-collision avoidance assist (FCA) with automatic braking, as well as lane-keep assist. Available driver-assist/safety features include FCA with pedestrian detection, high-beam assist, a surround-view monitor, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and driver-attention warning. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all grades.

The Hyundai Tucson is a crucial car for Hyundai – its entrant into the hotly fought family crossover class, its rival to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca and Ford Kuga. Fortunately for Hyundai, the Tucson is a really well-executed all-rounder that’s pleasant to be in, easy-going to drive and offers a more painless ownership proposition than most - if not all - of its rivals. It’s not a car you’ll ever get up early on a Sunday morning to drive, but its fundamental rightness means the other six days will pass pretty painlessly. We ran a long-term 2.0 CRDi model for six months and it was peerlessly reliable and extremely practical.

For its 2018 facelift, Hyundai recognised there was very little it needed to change, so focused chiefly on smartening up the Tucson’s appearance and making it more futureproof and economical. That’s why you’ve now got the option of all-LED lights to bisect that Audi-in-a-hall-of-mirrors front grille, trick LED tail lights, and a refreshed cabin with a standalone touchscreen this time, so the rest of the dashboard settles lower down and increases the perception of space. Not that the boxy Tucson wants for interior accommodation.

Unimpressive as a frumpy, underwhelming SUV that launched in 2004 before being retired in 2009 in favour of the ix35, it burst back into the Australian market in 2015 as a handsome mid-size sports utility that has stormed up the sales charts. Sold in Australia from $28,590 to $47,450 for versions that include petrol and diesel engines and front- and all-wheel drivetrains, the Tucson mid-size SUV - whether in base Tucson Active (FWD) trim or high-class Tucson HIGHLANDER R-SERIES (AWD) RED spec - has garnered rave reviews from the CarsGuide team for its practicality and on-road performance.

While it had the stage at the New York International Auto Show, Hyundai also brought out its all-electric Kona EV. Although the Kona EV was no secret (it was shown in Geneva), the big news is its range. Hyundai announced it will travel up to 250 miles on a full charge. Its electric motor generates 201 hp, delivering 291 lb-ft of torque. Using a Level III Charger, 54 minutes is required to bring the battery to an 80 percent charge from empty. More than 9 hours is required with a Level II Charger.
How Much?

Hyundai didn't announce pricing for either the Tuscon or the Kona EV. Including the factory delivery fee, the current Tucson starts at $22,250, while pricing for the gasoline-fueled Kona begins at $20,450.

Review Hyundai Kona Specs and Photos

It’s probably the most outrageously styled Hyundai the world has ever seen. The Kona is a small SUV that competes with the Nissan Juke and Seat Arona, among others, in what’s known as the ‘B-SUV’ segment. These so-called SUVs are hugely popular, hence the droves of them invading showrooms across the land.  But even in this style-led segment, none we’ve seen is as bold as the Kona. There are shades of Hyundai in there, but for the most part this is a bespoke design, and in our view not a totally successful one. We appreciate Hyundai wanted to go bold (and applaud it for following through) – as it’s so late to the party. Going big is the only way to get noticed, we figure. But there are ways of doing that without over-styling your car, which is the trap Hyundai’s fallen into. With its quirky styling, the Kona is set to perk up some fun. Choose from a 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-four with a six-speed automatic transmission or a 175-hp turbo 1.6-liter inline-four with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional with both engines. A standard 7.0-inch touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; an 8.0-inch unit with navigation and wireless charging is optional. An all-electric version is expected later in 2018.

Fuel Economy

Although a fully electric Kona will go on sale in the fall of this year, two gasoline-fueled engines, in the meantime, will provide the propulsion. The two lower grades use a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder engine mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The two upper trims qualify for the 175-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine borrowed from the redesigned Tucson and married to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. According to government measurements, both engines deliver 30 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The 2.0-liter does it with 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The 1.6-liter, however, achieves it with 28 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.

We have only driven the top-end grade with the 1.6-liter/7-speed setup. Working well with the 7-speed, it has plenty of get-up-and-go.
Standard Features & Options

The SE ($20,450) comes fairly well equipped with a 2.0-liter engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 16-in alloy wheels, a backup camera, hill-start assist, 7 airbags, power windows, power door locks, power outboard mirrors, remote keyless entry, LED headlights with auto on/off, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, driver's-seat height adjustment, 6-way driver's-seat adjustment, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, a 7-in touchscreen, an audio system with satellite radio capability/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cargo cover and dual-level cargo floor. Optional on all grades is AWD.

The SEL ($22,100) beefs up the SE content with 17-in alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist, keyless entry, heated outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob and heated front seats. Options include Hyundai Smart Sense suite of driver-assist/safety technology except high-beam assist, power sunroof and 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

The Limited ($25,650) adds all SEL options except Hyundai Smart Sense plus 18-in alloy wheels and leather seating. The only option is black-with-lime interior. Hyundai Smart Sense is not optional for Limited.

The Ultimate ($28,350) features all of SEL' content as well as Hyundai Smart sense with high-beam assist, rear parking distance warning, rain-sensing wipers, Blue Link with remote care/remote access/destination guidance, wireless device charging, and upgraded audio system with 8-in touchscreen, navigation and traffic info. The only option is the black-with-lime interior.

Neither the government nor IIHS has crash-tested the 2018 Kona. In addition to the usual airbags in nearly all new vehicles today, Hyundai adds a driver's-knee airbag to the Kona. A backup camera and hill-start assist are also standard on every Kona. All but the SE grade get blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-keep warning. Optional for the SEL and standard on Ultimate is Hyundai Smart Sense with forward-collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning and automatic high beams. The auto high beams aren't available on the SEL.
Behind the Wheel

Settling back into the driver's seat, which is supremely comfy and supportive, a quick look around doesn't offer much in the way of polarizing styling. That is, the rather dynamic exterior styling doesn't carry through to the interior. Yes, it's well built and the bulk of the materials are topnotch, but there's nothing outrageous in terms of the lines or component arrangement. If you pony up for a Limited or Ultimate grade, you can get some lime-green accents. Otherwise, there's nothing crazy happening.

We found the 1.6-liter turbo to be engaging and spunky. The 7-speed DCT is a good match. Steering is responsive, and the turning radius remarkably tight. Our test Kona had AWD; so it came with a multilink rear suspension rather than the FWD's solid beam rear axle. Regardless of the suspension, torque vectoring through the brake system increases the Kona's cornering acumen. The ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet.
Other Cars to Consider

Review Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Specs and Photos

The Sonata Hybrid is a good, but not great, entry in the competitive midsize car class. It boasts solid safety and predicted reliability ratings but has lower fuel economy estimates than hybrid rivals. After a substantial refresh for this model year, the Sonata Hybrid's interior is more upscale than previous models, and it offers plenty of intuitive infotainment features. Cargo space and rear headroom are mediocre for the class, however. The Sonata Hybrid could use more engine power for high-speed passing maneuvers, and its grabby regenerative brakes detract from the driving experience.

 Hyundai released the Sonata Hybrid for the 2011 model year, with a 2.4-liter I-4 paired to a 30 kW electric motor and a six-speed automatic. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which received an EPA rating of 34/39 mpg city/highway, has a combined power output of 209 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Sonata Hybrid’s sister vehicle, the Kia Optima Hybrid, shares the same hybrid powertrain. “The Sonata Hybrid is a well thought-out, well executed, and progressive hybrid,” we said during our First Drive review.

The Latest Generation

After the Sonata was redesigned for the 2015 model year, a new Sonata Hybrid followed for the 2016 model year. This new, more efficient midsize hybrid sedan has a total system output of 193 hp. A six-speed automatic remains the only available transmission and fuel economy has increased, with the ratings of 38-39/41-42 mpg, depending on trim. Due to the lithium-ion battery tucked under the trunk, the Sonata Hybrid loses 3 cubic feet of trunk space versus the regular Sonata.  In a First Test review of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, we said, “Except for minor fit and finish issues and non-linear brakes, the Sonata Hybrid is a solid proposition, offering value, fuel efficiency, a smooth powertrain, and a well-appointed interior.”

The Hyundai Ioniq is the automaker’s latest hybrid model. The Ioniq will also be offered in plug-in hybrid and full-electric variant.

Fuel Economy

The Sonata Hybrid comes standard with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 38kW electric motor for a combined output of 193 horsepower. Fuel economy estimates for the SE trim are 40 miles per gallon city and 46 mpg highway, while the Limited returns 39 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. The engine is mated to front-wheel drive and a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard Features & Options

Hyundai made the Sonata Hybrid a better value for 2018, adding standard features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert and dropping the base price by $500. It also comes standard with a hands-free power trunk, a touch-screen infotainment system, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Despite the changes, your money is probably better spent on another – better – midsize hybrid. For example, the Toyota Camry Hybrid ranks higher in the class, and though it costs a couple thousand dollars more than the Sonata, it's a more well-rounded car. The Honda Accord Hybrid retails for a couple hundred dollars less than the Sonata, but it delivers better gas mileage, more standard driver assistance features, and a much bigger trunk.

The Sonata Hybrid is offered in two trim levels: SE and Limited.

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's current generation began with the 2016 model year, and there have been a host of upgrades since then. The 2018 Sonata Hybrid receives an interior and exterior design refresh. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are newly standard, and features like wireless phone charging, lane keep assist, and automatic emergency braking are available for the first time. If these are important to you, stick with a new Sonata Hybrid.

Conversely, you can likely save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used 2016 or 2017 Sonata Hybrid. After the 2016 redesign, the main change for 2017 was an upgraded standard 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with HD Radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. A 5-inch display screen was standard in the 2016 Sonata Hybrid.

Choose the Hybrid SE ($26,385) and you'll get 16-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a 7-in color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic headlights, a backup camera, proximity key with push button start, a hands-free smart trunk opener, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 4.2-in color LCD trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators.

Upgrade to the Hybrid Limited ($31,385) and you add a panoramic sunroof, larger alloy wheels, leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, dual power front seats with driver memory settings, wood grain interior accents, power up/down front passenger window, SiriusXM, LED adaptive headlights, split-folding rear seats and the Bluelink Connected Car Service, Connected Care and Remote packages.

An optional Ultimate Package includes adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, a forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, driver attention warning, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, rear manual side window sunshades, a navigation system, Qi wireless phone charging, a 10-speaker, 400-watt Infinity sound system and an 8-in color touchscreen.

In government crash testing, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid earned a perfect 5-star overall score. In tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the sedan earned a Top Safety Pick rating.

As for safety features, the Sonata Hybrid offers virtually everything you might want, but some are pretty pricey. For instance, while side-curtain airbags, a backup camera and anti-lock brakes are standard, you'll have to upgrade to the Hybrid Limited's Ultimate package to get adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist or more. Still, if you have the budget, the Sonata offers virtually every safety feature you can imagine.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, the Sonata Hybrid offers surprisingly peppy performance unusual for a hybrid midsize sedan with a good cornering feel and communicative steering. Indeed, we'd consider these models to be the driver's choice among fuel-efficient midsize sedans, outshining even the excellent Honda Accord Hybrid. With that said, the Accord Hybrid gets better gas mileage.

Despite its driver-focused feel, the Sonata Hybrid is quite comfortable over bumps and jarring road surfaces. The car has certainly grown up compared to the last generation, as it now boasts more supple seating surfaces, more interior room, and a smoother ride and driving feel. With the possible exception of its tight rear headroom, we have few bad things to say about the Sonata Hybrid's driving experience, whether you're behind the wheel or just along for the ride.

Review Hyundai Veloster Specs and Photos - Hyundai Veloster 2012 Test Drive

The car differs from many competitors with its asymmetrical door configuration, featuring one large door on the driver side and two smaller doors on the passenger side. This configuration is more common on commercial vehicles and minivans. In North America, the Veloster is equipped with BlueLink, a new telemetics system which will eventually be standard on all Hyundai models. The system is comparable to OnStar in GM vehicles, and provides customers with automatic crash notification, vehicle diagnostics, and remote control of vehicle features, among others.

Exterior Design and Asymmetry

Unique among current sport compacts, Veloster has three passenger doors: One on the driver's side, and two on the passenger's side. The rear door handle is inset near the C-pillar, while the front door retains a conventional door handle. The body sides are sculpted with sharp character lines that convey athleticism and speed, and the roofline is scarab-like, rounding down toward the rear bumper, pausing only for a slight integrated spoiler. The tailgate houses a short rear window and squinty taillights (LED available). Centered twin tailpipes peek out beneath the rear bumper -- a nice, sporty touch. The front of the Veloster is assertive-looking, with a wide, low aspect and expressive headlights (LED available) underlined by standard LED daytime running lights.

Suspension, Steering and Braking

Hyundai used that "mix-and-match" platform capability to upgrade Veloster's rear suspension to an independent multi-link setup, replacing the outgoing torsion beam unit. The front gets a lighter, stiffer independent suspension that uses MacPherson struts. Column-mounted electric rack-and-pinion power steering is dialed in well to deliver decent feel and weight. Disc brakes are standard front and rear, equipped with ABS.

A 7-inch touchscreen display is standard (8-in optional) for the infotainment and available navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio are standard, and Infinity premium audio is available. Turbo models come with a nifty engine sound enhancement feature that allows you to experience the audible thrills of your Veloster through the sound system. An 8-in head-up display (HUD) is also available on Turbo models. Lane-keeping assist and forward-collision-avoidance assist are standard (class firsts), along with a long list of active and passive safety features.
Driving Experience

We drove both the 2.0-liter and Turbo models of Veloster during Hyundai's launch event. Unfortunately, only automatic transmission vehicles were available during the event. But the Veloster still delivered on its fun-to-drive promise, especially in Turbo trim. With three drive modes (Normal/Sport/Smart), the Turbo feels sporty and quick. The suspension is just stiff enough to give you some confidence, and Veloster can hug the curves just fine. Torque steer makes an occasional appearance, but is easily managed. Veloster's limits are not the highest, but it delivers some good fun within them.
Trim Levels and Prices

2019 Veloster will be available in five trim levels: 2.0, starting at $18,500 (MT)/$19,500 (AT); 2.0 Premium, starting at $22,750 (AT only); Turbo R-Spec, starting at $22,750 (MT only); Turbo, staring at $25,400 (DCT only); and Turbo Ultimate, starting at $26,650 (MT)/$28,150 (DCT).

Interior Design and More Asymmetry

Taking their cue from the vehicle's exterior, Veloster's designers made a clear division between the driver's and passenger's sides of the front cabin. The second row is a tight fit for adults, and would be a chore for swapping in and out of car seats but that's standard for the class. Cargo space is superior at 19.9 cu ft., competitive with many compact crossovers and bigger that most full-size sedans -- and the 60/40-split rear seat folds down to open up even more.


Two engines are available for the front-wheel drive Veloster: A 2.0-liter naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 2.0-liter 4-cylinder (147 hp/132 lb-ft of torque) and a 1.6-liter turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder (201 hp/195 lb-ft of torque). The 2.0-liter comes with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while the turbo comes with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT). Fuel economy estimates range from 25 miles per gallon city/33 mpg highway/28 mpg combined to 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined, depending on configuration.

Turbo FTW!

The Turbo lineup begins just $150 above the 2.0 Premium with the $23,785 R-Spec, which comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. As far as we’re concerned, the lineup could end there, too. The simply named, $26,285 Turbo can be had with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and although you can order the loaded Turbo Ultimate with a six-speed manual, it’ll cost $27,535. (Equipping a Turbo Ultimate with the DCT adds $1500.) For more on which trim level gets what, read our pricing breakdown of the Veloster lineup; in our book, the R-Spec represents the strongest value.

Every Turbo’s suspension has thicker anti-roll bars and is roughly 15 percent stiffer than the base Veloster’s. The only stick-shift Turbos we drove were R-Specs, which get a trim-exclusive B&M short-shifter kit. The setup’s Honda-like shift quality is shockingly good, and the clutch pedal is springy and progressive with a clear takeup point in the middle of its stroke. Recently, we declared the Accent SE’s manual transmission to be the best Hyundai has ever offered. Transfer that title (with a hat tip to B&M) to the Veloster R-Spec now.

The dual-clutch transmission is less beguiling. Its responses to manual gear selections are disappointingly slow whether you use the steering-wheel paddles or the shift lever, and several times we caught the computers snoozing, leaving us without a complete throttle blip to smooth a downshift. In automatic mode, it upshifts short of redline most of the time to ride the turbo engine’s fat wave of torque in the low and middle ranges. Although not terribly sporty, the protocol feels effective and helps to avoid the shrill whooshing noises and softened thrust that occur near the engine’s redline. The Dyson sound effect isn’t unique in this segment Honda’s Civic Si is nearly as lacking in high-rpm character—but Hyundai curiously augments it, digitally, through the Turbo’s audio speakers. Every Veloster has Normal, Sport, and (in automatic-transmission models) adaptive Smart driving modes; in the Turbo, these represent different volume settings in addition to changing the steering effort and throttle response. Fortunately, drivers can minimize or shut off the digital exhaust note altogether via the touchscreen.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review Yundai Elantra GT Expert Reviews Specs and Photos

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT is all-new this year, offering a more refined look and better performance in a stronger, quieter and more efficient package. As with all Hyundai products, the Elantra GT is about giving consumers loads of features and value at an impressively low price. In the case of the Elantra GT, buyers will find a sporty and stylish 5-door hatchback with more interior room than most rivals and even some compact crossovers like the Chevrolet Trax and Mazda CX-3. The Elantra GT offers a choice of two engines, manual or automatic transmission and loads of equipment including an available Infinity sound system, a panoramic glass sunroof and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Elantra GT Sport has a lot going for it. The suspension is composed and delivers a comfortable ride that's more on the firm side. The 1.6-liter turbo engine delivers 201 horsepower without discernible lag or drama, while handling is competent. The GT Sport feels like a refined and more powerful small hatchback. It doesn't light your hair on fire, but the driving experience still offers more engagement than a traditional compact car, especially with the six-speed manual.

Is the 2018 Elantra GT a bona fide VW GTI killer? No, not quite. But for those shopping the Mazda3, Ford Focus or Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, Hyundai's newest arrival is certainly in the same league, and none of its competitors can match Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Behind the Wheel

Russ Heaps spent a day behind the wheel of the new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT. Here are some of his impressions:

At the Charleston media launch, we were able to drive the Elantra GT on a variety of roads, as well as on dry and wet pavement. Hyundai set its sights on the Volkswagen Golf when planning the i30. Although it may not have quite hit the bulls-eye, it came close. It feels stable and well planted in the turns, and the turbo in the GT Sport is responsive, with almost no hint of turbo lag when goosing the throttle. Although the entry-level GT is a bit sedate, it performs efficiently and without drama.

Inside, the cabin is roomy and quite comfy. Rear-seat legroom would be a bit tight for taller folks, but that's about the only nit to pick. The cars we drove in and around Charleston, South Carolina at the GT's southeast regional media debut were well-constructed inside and out. The most striking interior change is the new infotainment system. Anchoring the new system is a larger 8-in touchscreen, now occupying its own standalone space in the center of the dashboard.

Standard on every Elantra GT are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other standard goodies inside the GT include full power accessories, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with redundant audio controls, an audio system with satellite radio capability, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, seven airbags and remote keyless entry. Hill-start assist is also standard.

This is a stark contrast to cars like the Focus ST, which basically always feel as though they're straining at the leash and want to explode onto a two-lane road. Now, credit to Hyundai where it's due: it doesn't market this as a proper hot hatch to rival those cars. It never claimed that the GT Sport can compete, but that's almost worse. I wish it had the guts to chase the big guys, rather than creating a car held back because it was afraid of consumers and reviewers drawing the comparisons.

The Elantra GT Sport is fine, I just think it could have been great.


The Elantra GT comes with a number of advanced standard safety systems including electronic traction and stability control, hill-start assist, display for individual tire pressure and six airbags including front, front side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags.

In crash testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Elantra GT four out of five stars, with a safety concern noted for rear-seat passengers experiencing elevated thoracic and rib deflections during side-impact testing. However, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) saw no such issue, giving the Elantra GT its highest score of Good in every crash test and a Superior in the crash mitigation and avoidance test when equipped with the optional collision-mitigation systems. The IIHS also named the Elantra GT a Top Safety Pick.

Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

GTI of the Beholder

It takes more than crisply folded sheetmetal to challenge the hot-hatch royalty, however. So the Elantra GT Sport is armed with a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four that boasts an additional 39 horsepower over the base Elantra GT’s naturally aspirated 2.0-liter. The 1.6-liter also has a plentiful 195 lb-ft of torque available from a low 1500 rpm. And indeed, Hyundai’s hottest hatch in the U.S. never felt out of breath on our drive across the winding roads east of San Diego, and the engine displayed little turbo lag when launching hard from a stop. Merging onto Southern California’s sun-scorched freeways revealed a disquieting amount of road noise entering the cabin, however.

The standard six-speed manual transmission features crisp action and well-defined gates, but its throws are on the long side, like a Christopher Nolan movie. An optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic swaps cogs smoothly but has a tendency to rush to a higher gear to aid fuel economy. Engaging the automatic’s Sport mode helps temper that behavior, or one can tap the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The Elantra GT Sport has larger brake discs than the standard car, and the brake pedal is firm and reassuring underfoot. In place of the standard GT’s torsion-beam rear axle, the Sport gets a more sophisticated multilink arrangement. Hyundai also revised the springs, dampers, and steering gear, but despite these upgrades, the GT Sport fell somewhat short of delivering the buttoned-down refinement found in the class leaders when attacking twisting tarmac. Its body leans more than we’d like in turns, and the electrically assisted steering lacks the precision and feel of the units found in the Honda Civic Sport hatchback and the GTI. The GT Sport also doesn’t quite measure up to the VW in terms of power, with the GTI boasting up to 220 horses and 258 lb-ft from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four. To properly establish Hyundai’s go-fast acumen, its N performance sub-brand will introduce a zestier i30 N hot hatch later this year for Europe and other foreign markets. While the manufacturer has stated that the U.S. Elantra GT will see no such fortification, the next-gen Hyundai Veloster is slated to get the N treatment and will share much of the i30 N’s chassis and mechanicals.

Mainstream Virtues

But even if the GT Sport can’t quite deliver sporty driving zen, it’s still a competent car and has other virtues to recommend it. The standard leather seats are supportive enough for daylong stints, and every example packs dual-zone automatic climate control and rear HVAC vents. With all seats upright, the 170.9-inch-long hatchback boasts a competitive 25 cubic feet of luggage space; folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks expands that figure to 55 cubes. Both of those numbers are just ahead of the Volkswagen’s, but a tallish liftover height could make loading heavy items somewhat difficult.  The Elantra GT Sport boasts a long list of included goodies, including LED head- and taillights, a blind-spot monitoring system, a proximity key with push-button start, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An available Sport Tech package adds a navigation system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams, and more, but unfortunately the package is available only with the automatic.

Pricing has yet to be released, but we expect the GT Sport to start under $24,000, or roughly $1000 more than the Elantra Sport sedan. While the Elantra GT Sport is poised to be a great value and is certainly a good car, it can’t quite match up to the vaunted and admittedly more expensive Volkswagen GTI in terms of driving enjoyment. 

Review Hyundai Tucson Specs and Photos

Hyundai did more than a little tinkering in freshening the 2019 Hyundai Tucson. Sure, there are a number of styling enhancements, ...