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STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Value, fun-to-drive, and high content rank near the top of the automotive public-relations lexicon. Throw in “re-configurability,” appeals to active life styles, bumper-to-bumper warranty, and a recent favorite, surprise and delight features, and you’re on your way to press kit heaven. But you also could be describing Hyundai’s Elantra GT; and it might be the automotive bargain of the year.
Hyundai’s value-for-your-buck equation isn’t a secret anymore, but for enthusiasts on a budget, this five-door hatchback has to rank number one. The $13,999 base price includes air conditioning, leather seats, side airbags, power mirrors and windows, CD player, keyless entry, etc. Based on that value equation alone, anyone looking for economical transportation would be foolish not to check it out. It’s when you add ride and handling to all that standard equipment that the Elantra GT really stands out.Clever tuning
Slip behind the tightly wrapped leather steering wheel, wrap your right hand around the matching shift knob, engage the five-speed manual transmission and measure the GT’s fun factor for yourself. Journalists making the trip to New England’s Berkshires did just that, taking full advantage of the numerous two-lane blacktops that connect Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. All of us drove manual-equipped GTs (a four-speed automatic is an $800 option), and our verdict seemed unanimous, one helluva lot of car for the money and great fun to toss around. (Plus the glowing purple gauges are very cool!)
2002 Hyundai Elantra GTEnlarge Photo