"Touring Car" = an automobile suitable for distance driving, typically in two-door sedan configuration. Back seat included.
Touring Car + a dash of refinement + a pinch of occupant comfort = "Grand Touring Car"
So "Drive...He Said" is wondering "How in the hey" do two front-drive small family haulers, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback + 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT sedan = a "GT" designation.
By Clever People Packaging, It Would Seem:
- A recent freeway skip and hop into Downtown Chicago yielded thumbs up from two 6-foot-tall DHS male staffers who lounged in the second row of the Elantra GT. True we don't feed our staffers very much to keep them svelte and limber for such seating assignments. However comments were complimentary about the spacious as sky feeling afforded by the tinted glass roof (with power shade). And the 34.6"-inches of rear legroom surpasses even the Elantra sedan by 1.5"-inches of legroom.
- The Lancer GT has even more rear legroom at 36.1"-inches. Though the larger driveshaft hump that serves AWD in the Ralliart and Evo models, isn't person friendly.
- Grand Tourers don't normally haul anything other than A$$. The subwoofer in the Lancer GT's trunk deducts from some already pretty sparse real estate at 9 cubic feet. That's down some 5-cubes on the Elantra GT. Despite folding rear seat-backs in each, the five-door Elantra GT bests the Lancer when it comes to hauling stuff.
More or Less "Grand":
From the driver's perch in the Mitsu Lancer GT one senses more athletic aspirations. Front buckets offer some serious torso and hip reinforcement. Flail away at among the more tedious manual seat levers to be had. For some that may translate as to a squeeze...and not of orange juice. The gauge cluster would be right at home in a host of classic European sportsters. The CVT center console shifter is gated, the way we prefer it if we are being deprived of a true manual transmission. Nicely machined oversized transmission paddle shifters, properly affixed to the steering column, are worthy of use. The optional Mitsubishi Multimedia infotainment setup, with huge folding touchscreen and pinky-tip sized joystick to move the HDD navigation cursor, boasts track applications handy for storing data from say an impromptu drag or autocross event.
Less "grand" in the Lancer GT: is the level of build fit and materials used. Even Hyundai has caught onto the fact that doors closing with a slight push resulting in a solid thud reassurance that "this is something solid." To close the door in the Lancer GT you absolutely must slam it. No external or internal grab trim or recesses for the trunk lid? Are they kidding? The abundance of dark hard materials belongs to the dawn of econo-cars. The rudimentary industrial look mimics Johnny Sokko's "Flying Robots." As for the trip computer which keeps resetting itself after the car stays turned-off for more than 4 hours....whose brain-child was that?
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The Hyundai Elantra GT cabin signals that occupant comfort is Job #1. Seat width can accommodate pretty much anyone who walks into a car rental agency office. Still, minimal height adjustment and that tall dash will have some rummaging for an old Yellow Pages for that lift-up. Grained leather is completely unexpected in this price segment, but we''l take it. Ditto the 7.5" touch center infotainment screen even if some script is smallish. The Niagara of a flowing center stack with pseudo-satin-metallic accents is modern-stylish. Though not all the switch gear is tactily distinguishable, Hyundai goes to great lengths to visually convince Elantra GT occupants that this is a nice place to be. Check out the real chrome interior door latches and pleasingly sculpted panels. Even the few visible hard plastics have an organic appearance.
Less "grand" in the Elantra GT: was having to repeat the voice command, "NEXT" some 10 times just to advance lists of Point of Interest funeral homes located just 6 miles away. Holy C&@P!
How Long Is Your Lunch Break?:
Offering a sibling as perenially a "champeen" in World Rally Car Series competition as the Lancer Evo, you know there is no way that Mitsubushi would completely emasculate the Lancer GT. The 2.4L alloy twin-cam gasoline engine's 168-horsepower and 167 lb-ft of spin is hardly oppressed moving 3000-pounds of metal+glass+plastic+rubber. Paddle shifting the snappy continually variable transmission to red-line through each band whipped up high 7-second 0-60 miles-per-hour runs. En route to such fun fuel consumption rises to 25 miles-per-gallon combined.
The Hyundai Elantra GT needs a longer lunchbreak. It does the same deed in 10.2 seconds. Should you exceed 4100 rpm on a 2nd to 3rd gear upshift of the 6-speed automatic transmission add another 1 second. Squeezing 148-hp from just 1.8-liters of normally aspirated gas powerplant is not easy. Despite direct injection just 137-lb-feet of torque must pull one-and-one-half tons. A taller final drive might have helped. But then the Elantra GT's healthier 28 combined miles-per-gallon could have taken a nose dive. A goaded Elantra GT engine chatters like grand-dads dentures.
Leaves the Driving to Us:
In this comparison the Mistubishi Lancer GT has the enthusiast type of "Touring" covered. You know. Where incremental steering inputs are replied to by accurate chassis movement. Without excessive yaw or pitch. And a mere tap of the brake pedal will reign in the machine. Without nose scraping dive and a squirming back end. The front strut / rear multi-link suspension is unflustered by abrupt inputs. The 215/45 Dunlop SP 5000 tires on 18" wheels have some serious stick. Steering assist is pure hydraulic without computerized motor to dilute feedback. Speed scrubbing four-wheel disc brake swept surface area covers 424-square-inches. It doesn't hurt that many of these pieces come straight out of the 237hp AWD Lancer Ralliart. If only the seat pants didn't hurt so much when the Lancer GT meets a railroad crossing.
The Hyundai Elantra GT is adept at more leisurely tours. Electric steering assist is enlivening as an epidural injection. Brakes, with linear pedal action, prefer gentler feet. Our tester was a solid piece as despite all the glass dictated by the panoramic roof. The chassis is damped to disperse most tarmac impacts well shy of the seats. However, the lighter torsion-beam rear suspension makes this tourer more of a less precise under-steerer fitted with optional 215/45 H-rated Hankooks on 17" alloys.
Keeping Friends in Your Circles:
The $1600 dearer 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT runs performance circles around the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Well optioned at $27,000 with bi-xenons, though missing glass on the roof, it is also beats the price of a max'd out $25K Elantra GT. You'd still need the power of the Ralliart to take on a Volkswagen Jetta GLI. The Lancer GT is suited to examining the G-force stamina of four other passengers. While your friends will be friendlier after a grand tour in the Elantra GT.
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