2013 Hyundai Elantra GT and Veloster TurboPosted on July 27th, 2012
Active lifestyle vehicles with pumped-up style
By Nina Russin
While the current economic climate has many automotive manufacturers struggling to tread water, Hyundai continues to stride forward with leaps and bounds. The reason is that product planners listen to their customers, and deliver on three key attributes: value, performance and functionality.
Hyundai’s two newest entries, the Veloster Turbo and Elantra GT, offer buyers with active lifestyles exceptional fuel economy and versatile interiors, priced under $25,000. Cargo areas are big enough to hold a bicycle or some camping equipment.
Comfort and convenience features including air conditioning, Bluetooth interface, iPod compatibility, remote keyless entry, and split folding rear seats are standard equipment. So are important safety features such as electronic stability control, side curtain airbags and four-channel antilock brakes.
Add in Hyundai’s ten year/100,000 mile warranty and the customer’s choice is simple: a four-door compact two-plus-two or slightly larger five-door hatch. The Veloster has edgier styling and a little more power, while the Elantra GT has more room in back for gear.
Turbocharged option enhances Veloster performance
When Hyundai rolled out the Veloster three-door hatch last year, buyers liked the concept, but found the car underpowered. A new turbocharged model raises the horsepower to 201, with 195 foot-pounds of torque available as low as 1750 rpm. The exhaust-driven blower vastly improves the Veloster’s acceleration off the line, and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range buyer use merging into high-speed traffic.
Designers revised the Veloster exterior, to appeal to drivers who might cross-shop the Honda Civic Si or VW GTI. The facelift includes a revised front fascia, grille, fog lamps and 18-inch rims. In the back, the turbo model gets a rear spoiler and unique dual exhaust tips.
Engineers borrowed from Hyundai Sonata technology, integrating the turbocharger housing into the exhaust manifold to save weight. The Veloster turbo comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with manual gear select mode. Base price for the automatic transmission model tested is $22,950, excluding the $775 destination charge.
Expanded Elantra family includes coupe and GT models
By expanding the Elantra family to include a two-door coupe and five-door GT, Hyundai expands the model’s appeal to include young shoppers looking for sporty styling, and buyers with active lifestyles needing a more versatile interior.
All three models run off a 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine, with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. The engine delivers exceptional fuel economy: 39 miles-per-gallon on the highway according to the EPA.
While styling for the Elantra Coupe is targeted towards young American buyers, Hyundai anticipates strong sales for the five-door GT in Europe, where sport sedans are much more popular.
Exterior and interior styling features including a unique grille with chrome accents, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, unique center stack and cooled glovebox appeal to these buyers. The car’s edgier exterior should also attract younger buyers stateside, who liked the functionality of the five-door Elantra Touring model, but found its styling a little bland.
Rear seat cushions on the GT flip forward so that the seatbacks can fold completely flat to create an uninterrupted cargo floor. There is also a small under-floor storage area which can hold a laptop computer and some tools. A 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area makes it easier to load up at night.
Base price for the Elantra GT is $19,395 excluding the $775 destination charge. Option packages on the test car include a style package which adds a panoramic sunroof, leather seating, steering wheel and shift knob, 17-inch alloy rims and aluminum pedals ($2750).
A technology package adds navigation, a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, keyless start and automatic headlamps ($2350). Carpeted floor mats add $95, bringing the price as tested $25,365.
Test drive in Texas
At a recent media program in Texas, I had the opportunity to drive the Hyundai Elantra GT and Veloster Turbo back-to-back. Our route included surface streets in downtown Austin, highways in outlying suburban areas and two-lane roads through the surrounding hill country.
I drove the Elantra GT first. As with all of Hyndai’s current products, the Elantra is a tight, quiet car with an exceptionally large roster of comfort and safety features. It feels like a more expensive car than it actually is.
Curb weight with the optional 17-inch wheels and panoramic sunroof is about 2900 pounds. By keeping its mass low, engineers were able to derive a more positive power-to-weight ratio, which is most obvious when the driver shifts the automatic transmission manually.
In fully automatic mode, the transmission shifts at about 2000 rpm during normal driving conditions. While this provides the high fuel economy numbers the engineering team was aiming for, shifting early leaves a lot of dead spots when the engine is under load. The car lugged going up some of the steeper inclines, and I had to dig deep into the throttle accelerating from a stop.
When I shifted the transmission manually, the powertrain took on a completely different character. The engine’s sweet spot is between about 3000 and 4500 rpm. When the driver keeps the rpms within this range, the car feels spry and well balanced, with plenty of power for the open road.
A steering wheel-mounted control enables the driver to modify the electric power steering system according to his needs. In sport mode, steering weight is a little heavier, for a more positive on-center feel.
Engineers increased the amount of high-strength steel in the chassis to 57 percent, vastly improving torsional stiffness over earlier Elantra models. The result is better cornering, and quicker response during high-speed driving.
A 34.8-foot turning circle makes it easy to maneuver through dense traffic or park in small spots on the street. The optional rearview camera allows the driver to monitor cross traffic when backing out of a vertical parking slot.
The Elantra GT suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a V-beam rear suspension with a built-in stabilizer bar. The suspension provides a pleasingly compliant ride for city driving, with plenty of rebound for more aggressive driving on two-lane rural roads.
Visibility around the perimeter is pretty good, with no obvious blind spots. The rearview camera eliminates blind spots around the rear pillars and below the driver’s sightline.
Ventilated disc brakes up front and solid disks in the rear stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
Inside, the Elantra GT seats up to five adult passengers. The car has no floor tunnel, and the center console is located far enough forward to offer the middle rear passenger a modest amount of legroom. If the front seats are reasonably far forward, passengers in the outboard, second-row positions should be comfortable. The tall flat roofline gives riders in back as much headroom as those up front.
Front seats are easy to adjust and offer ample lower lumbar support. I found both the steering wheel-mounted controls and center stack functions intuitive to operate. A hood over the center stack screen keeps the image from washing out in bright sun.
With second-row seats folded flat, the Elantra GT can hold a road bike with the front wheel removed, as well as some small camping gear or luggage. The under-floor area is useful for concealing valuables overnight.
A Veloster for the passing lane
The new turbocharged engine should turn heads among shoppers in the Veloster’s competitive segment. Not only does the car have an abundance of power off the line, but there is plenty on the high end as well, for passing slower vehicles at speed. The car feels every bit as solid and stable at 85 miles-per-hour as it does at 50.
Because the engine reaches peak torque at very low engine speeds, the automatic transmission functions quite well in fully-automatic mode. Turbochargers make engines combust fuel more efficiently by reducing the amount of fuel which comes out the exhaust as carbon monoxide. This reduces toxic emissions and boosts gas mileage: up to 34 miles-per-gallon on the highway.
Steering response is good throughout the power band. The turbocharged model comes with bigger wheels than the naturally-aspirated car, which give it a larger footprint for high-speed driving. Because of its short wheelbase, the turning circle is a scant 34.12 feet.
Visibility to the front and sides of the car is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway. The B pillar on the driver’s side is well behind the seats, where it does not obstruct the driver’s view.
The split rear window design is a problem. The bottom part of the window is small, creating large blind spots around the rear pillars. Because of this, the rearview camera is more of a necessity than an option.
The Veloster seats up to four passengers. The third door behind the front passenger eases access and egress for second-row passengers. Legroom is adequate, but not abundant. The car’s raked roof limits headroom in back as well. I’m not particularly tall, and my head was close to the ceiling.
Second-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor for longer items. The Veloster is two inches shorter than the Elantra GT, which is most noticeable in the cargo area. While the Veloster will hold a bicycle, it won’t accommodate much else with a bicycle in the back. In addition to being shorter than the Elantra, the cargo bay is also shallower, due to the rake of the roof.
The Hyundai Elantra GT comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, daytime running lamps and tire pressure monitoring. The Hyundai Veloster Turbo comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, traction and electronic stability control.
Like: Hyundai Elantra GT: An affordably priced, stylish active lifestyle vehicle with solid performance, a versatile interior and a high level of standard safety, comfort and convenience features.
Hyundai Veloster Turbo: A peppy, stylish compact car with standard leather trim and enough room inside to hold a road bike.
Dislike: Hyundai Elantra GT: Automatic transmission shifts too early, causing flat spots in the power band.
Hyundai Veloster Turbo: Poor rear visibility and lack of headroom in the second row.
Models: Elantra GT/ Veloster Turbo
Base price: $19,395 (Elantra GT); $22,950 (Veloster Turbo)
As tested: $25,365 (Elantra GT); $26,320 (Veloster Turbo)
Horsepower: 148 Hp @ 6500 rpm (Elantra GT); 201 Hp @ 6000 rpm (Veloster Turbo)
Torque: 131 lbs.-ft. @ 3700 rpm (Elantra GT); 195 lbs.-ft. @ 1750 rpm (Veloster Turbo)
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 28/30 mpg city/highway (Elantra GT); 25/34 mpg city/highway (Veloster Turbo)
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