At Last: The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT.
It was just less than a year ago when I reviewed the 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT and wrote about the elephant in the room:  Hyundai's ground-breaking first legitimate hot hatch was showing its age.  At a time when the Hyundai/Kia cousins were cranking out freshened and all-new models at a seemingly non-stop pace, the Elantra had gone since 2011 without an update. Now, Hyundai has leap-frogged past the 2015 model year and brought us a mildly refreshed 2016 Elantra GT.

Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT
2016 Hyundai Elantra GT.
It may not be a revolutionary design or even a far-reaching evolutionary one, but the '16 does bulk up the Elantra a bit, in a good way...giving it broader shoulders and a bolder stance, which backs up the 28 horsepower boost you get by choosing the GT over the standard Elantra.

It's still reasonably priced at $18,800 ($19,800 for the 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic that our tester came with). And that gets you a car with literally dozens of standard features (click here to let Hyundai fill you in).

Interior view of 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT
2016 Hyundai Elantra GT interior.
Of course, being a press fleet car, it didn't stop with what comes for free.  The options got slathered on, through two packages:

The Style Package ($1,975): 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a sport-tuned suspension, exterior mirrors with turn signal indicators, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power driver's seat with power lumbar support, aluminum pedals, a driver's auto-up window, under-floor storage, proximity key entry, pushbutton start, immobilizer, the Blue Link telemetrics system and a complimentary trial of Blue Link Connected Care.

The Tech Package ($3,950): A panoramic sunroof, leather seating surfaces, LED taillights, ventilated front seats, navigation system, HD Radio and SiriusXM, a rearview camera, automatic headlights and dual automatic temperature control.

And then there was $125 for carpeted floor mats.  Roll in $825 inland freight and handling and the tab comes to $26,675.   Which makes us wonder:  At that price, wouldn't we be in VW GTI territory?

The answer is yes.  While there's about $6,500 difference in base price between the two cars (the VeeDub GTI S being the more expensive), once you option an Elantra GT to this level, you're competing with the GTI's Autobahn model, and the price difference shrinks to about $3,500.  If you're willing to sacrifice nav, power seats and trade the dual-zone temperature control in the GTI for a manual AC unit, you're looking at the GTI SE, and the gap shrinks further to about $1,700.

EPA mileage estimates are about the same...24 city/33 for the Elantra GT, 25 city/34 for the GTI.  The GTI has a 37-horsepower edge over the Elantra GT, but the Hyundai weighs 100 or so pounds less, so the VW is only marginally quicker (0-60 in 6.8 seconds instead of 7.2).

We'd love to give you a first-hand take, but have yet to be able to get a new GTI for review.  On paper, though, it's close.  And you'd have to factor in Hyundai's reliability vs. VW's as well as the legendary Hyundai 10 year/100,000 mile warranty.

Until we drive the GTI, we'll just have to settle for saying that the 2016 Elantra GT is just the latest example of how far Hyundai has come. It wasn't that long ago that the idea of mentioning Hyundai and any VW, much less the GTI, in the same breath would have been ridiculous.  Those days are well and truly behind Hyundai.