MONTREAL, QC – "Small is still big in Canada, this is where we started and where we will continue to grow." With these words Hyundai Canada Vice-President of marketing John Vernile introduced two new Elantras and the role they will play in the company’s unrelenting growth in North America.
Although they will have the same engines and transmissions, the 2013 Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT are two distinctly different cars. The coupe is based on the current Elantra sedan platform and the GT on one developed in and for the European market.
Hyundai is enjoying phenomenal success with the fourth -generation Elantra, consistently nipping at the heels of the best-selling car in the country. The Honda Civic has enjoyed this role for more than a dozen years, but for the past year its mirrors have been filled with the Elantra. More than one monthly sales report has shown the Elantra in front, in a category with as many as 20 contenders.
One of every five new cars sold in Canada is a compact and segment sales are expected to increase by 18% in the next three model years. Honda has sedan and coupe versions of the Civic so Hyundai is adding a coupe and a five-door wagon to its lineup to ensure potential customers don’t walk away looking for something with more or less doors.
The goal is to offer consumers a range of products to fit their wants and needs, something for everyone.
It may seem strange that the five-door, wears the GT tag. The reasoning is that it is based on the i30 designed in Hyundai’s German studios and currently enjoying success in Europe and Japan under Hyundai (i30) and Kia (Ceed) brands.
By comparison to the Coupe, the GT is 230-mm shorter, it’s wheelbase 50-mm shorter and it is slightly wider and weighs 26 kilos more.
The GT has unique suspension and steering systems tuned more for European style roads and driving. The coupe shares its underpinnings with the sedan so familiar to Canadians.
Both display Hyundai’s distinctive "fluidic sculpture" which makes even small cars look good. They also share the Elantra’s 1.8-litre 'Nu' four-cylinder engine and choice of six-speed transmissions, automatic or manual.
While our neighbors to the south are gradually catching on, Canadians have long recognized the advantages of a hatchback. So much so, they account for one-fifth of the massive compact segment. Hyundai says the 2013 Elantra GT will compete with the Ford Focus, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Matrix and VW Golf.
In addition to a suspension tuned as much for twisty back roads as long stretches of open highway, the GT offers a range of unique features not available in many competitors, such as a cooled glove box, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, navigation system, massive panoramic sunroof and a clever hidden rear view camera that resides behind the Hyundai logo on the tailgate.
Place the transmission in reverse and the hinged logo opens to reveal the camera. The arrangement keeps the lens clear and Hyundai says extensive testing has proven it can cope with crazy Canadian winter conditions.
The utilitarian aspect of the GT is not restricted to the large fifth door. The rear seats fold completely flat and there is additional storage beneath the cargo floor. With all seats in place there is 651 litres of space behind the second row. With them folded flat, capacity jumps to 1444 litres.
The 2013 Elantra GT will come in three trim levels – GL ($19,149), GLS ($21,349) and SE ($24,349). Add $1,200 for an automatic in the GL and GLS trims. The SE is only available with an automatic.
The GLS is expected to be the volume seller and is equipped to meet that role with air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors as standard equipment.
Across the showroom floor sits the Coupe. Because it shares the sedan’s platform the length, wheelbase and width are the same as the four door, but the Coupe is seven kilos heavier.
The 2013 Elantra Coupe is destined to compete with not only the Civic coupe, but also its kissing cousin, the Kia Forte Koupe. It has a different grille, tail and fog lights, wheels and rear valence from the Elantra sedan.
Hyundai says it has a larger rear seat than the Civic coupe and more interior volume than the Accord and Altima coupes. Heated seats are standard and there are lots of clever little nooks and crannies for storing the "stuff" we carry in a car.
The Coupe will be available in GLS ($19,949) and SE ($25,199) trim levels. In addition to standard equipment differences, the suspensions have been tuned for the different size wheels and tires on each.
Both the GT and Coupe are notably quiet on the road with a distinct absence of wind and road noise for cars in this price range. The driver-selectable steering system on the GT has three positions – comfort, normal and sport. There is a discernible difference in the amount of feel and assist from one to the other but I suspect most drivers will forget about the feature after the new wears off.
Hyundai is justifiably proud of the fuel economy numbers posted for these cars with its Nu engine – 7.2 litres/100 in the city and 4.9 on the highway for the GT and 6.8 city and 4.9 highway for the coupe – with a manual transmission.
The company points out that you don’t have to buy a special trim level to get the best fuel economy; that each and every Elantra, regardless of trim, carries these ratings.
The engine is smooth, quiet and willing but I’d trade a couple of tenths in the fuel-consumption column for some additional power. Torque peaks at a rather lofty 4,700-rpm and you have to get the engine above 3,000 before there is much poke.
This trait is especially notable with a manual transmission when you find yourself having to drop two or more gears to climb a hill or pass. With the automatic that action is done for you so the lack of suds is less noticeable. An opportunity for direct injection and/or turbocharging in the future?
The Elantra Coupe and GT arrive in Hyundai stores in July giving Canadians the choice of three, four or five-door Elantras.