Hyundai Just Learned That You Can’t Sell a Hot Hatch That Isn’t as Hot as the Competition

The Hyundai Elantra GT and GT N-Line, especially in regard to the most recent generation, had all the makings of a true hot hatch that could have competed with the likes of the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R, and even the Volkswagen Gold R. It has the looks, but Hyundai forgot one major ingredient – performance. Now, with a new Elantra GT N Line sedan on the horizon and the introduction of the Hyundai Venue, the Elantra GT hatchback is going to be killed off for the for the 2021 model year – at least in the United States, anyway.

All Show and No Go Was Hyundai’s Flawed Elantra GT Recipe

The Hyundai Elantra GT Is Dead in The U.S. Because It Couldn't Compete High Resolution Exterior
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To put matters simply, Hyundai has announced that the Elantra GT and GT N-Line hatchback is being “discontinued from the lineup due to expanded SUV lineup that includes the Venue and Kona.”

With the popularity of SUVs these days, that seems like worthy reasoning, but if you look a little deeper, you can clearly see that the Elantra GT and GT N-Line were missing something that could have given it at least one leg to stand on – performance.

The Hyundai Elantra GT Is Dead in The U.S. Because It Couldn't Compete High Resolution Exterior
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The Elantra GT Hatchback in standard form looked more aggressive than the Volkswagen Golf R, but with nothing more than 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter four-banger, the GT wasn’t going anywhere fast. The Elantra GT N-Line was a little spicier thanks to its 1.6-liter turbo-four with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It even looks faster and a little more aggressive. But, for a car that looked the part, neither the GT nor GT N-Line delivered the kind of performance that would allow it to compete. It was, for lack of a better explanation a lowered, econobox crossover that looked somewhat fast.

The Hyundai Elantra GT Is Dead in The U.S. Because It Couldn't Compete High Resolution Exterior
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Meanwhile, the cars it actually had to compete against, despite having a significantly lower price included cars like the Civic Type R, VW Golf R, and the Ford Focus ST. The Honda Civic, for example, comes in with a base price of $36,995 but nets you 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Golf R is even more expensive at just over $40,000 and comes in at 288 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, while the $32,000 Focus RS was good for an impressive 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.

To emphasize what these numbers translate to, the range-toping GT N-Line hatchback could get you to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.

It’s admirable for a car with just over 200 horsepower, but it doesn’t cast any shade over the Civic Type R’s 5.4-second sprint, the Focus RS’ 4.9-second sprint, or the Golf R’s 4.5 second sprint.

Even the competitively priced Focus ST at around $25,000 can beat the N-Line to 60 mph by nearly one second (5.8 seconds). So, while the Elantra GT and GT N-Line performed okay, you could get a much faster Focus ST for the same money. Or you could go with something hotter and pay more but enjoy your driving experience even more.

The Hyundai Elantra GT Is Dead in The U.S. Because It Couldn't Compete High Resolution Exterior
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In the end, you can place blame on the SUV craze as Hyundai says, but the fact of the matter is that the Elantra GT and GT N-Line just didn’t have what it takes to compete and outshine its competitors or the company’s entry-level SUVs. A new Elantra N-Line is on the horizon with new looks and (hopefully) better performance, but it looks like it will only be a sedan here in the U.S. so if you really want a sporty Hyundai Hatchback, you better grab one now as they won’t be around in new condition much longer.

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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