With the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT what you get is like most five-door sport hatch compacts in class, an upgraded base model that’s packed with more goodies and niceties than you will find in the four-door sedan on which it’s based.

In the case of the Elantra GT, it’s in fact not really even based on the Elantra sedan but a stand alone model with its own styling inside and out, decidedly upscale in character, standard equipment and in the quality of materials.

Our Elantra GT tester priced in at $21,360 included projector beam headlamps, LED daytime running lights and handsome 17-inch alloy wheels on the outside in addition to a built-in rear spoiler. Inside were healthy standards like aggressively bolstered sport seats and an 8-inch touchscreen display audio system just to name a few things.

In the cabin you’ll find higher quality materials than in the base Elantra sedan by a long shot. The dash and door panel designs are entirely different, more European in their feel and layout. Though plastic the steering wheel has a full array of controls for the digital center screen of the instrument cluster as well as the infotainment system.

The driving position is comfortable and you are well held by the comfortable seats. Their cloth is sturdy and appealing, handsome and appears it will wear well over time. Storage in the center console is good up front for your phone and doo-dads, less so in the compartment under your arm. The layout is well done and usable every day.

Rear seat passengers may find a scrunched up feeling due to the seat shape if they are larger adults. Leg and head room is good however. With the seats folded you get a class leading 55 cubic feet of cargo volume afforded by its upright rear hatch silhouette.

18-Hyundai-ElantraGT-7Powering the Elantra GT is a 161 horsepower 2.0-liter naturally aspirated but direct-injected four-cylinder engine. It’s available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission such as in our tester. As such it’s rated by the EPA at 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. We achieved 30 mpg combined in our week.

The engine has more than adequate power for spirited driving and the transmission does well to give you some fun when asked. As in most Hyundais we’ve tested lately, the powertrain is very refined in daily driving as well as when pushed hard.

If you want more of course you can step up to the Sport model with its 1.6-liter turbocharged engine which has 200-plus horsepower.

18-Hyundai-ElantraGT-6Chassis dynamics on the Elantra GT are improved over last year’s model with a tighter body structure. On the base model however you still get a twist-beam rear axle where on the Sport you get a modern multi-link set up.

In either case the Elantra GT is fun to drive on curvy roads and around town. It’s just when the road gets rough you notice the cost savings taken on that rear suspension.

The Elantra GT is a global model that Hyundai has spent time developing for markets that have high standards of precision and quality, an effort well noticed here where it has many heavy hitting competitors. We find that at its price it rises to near top of class in almost all measures.