Hatchbacks are a tough sell in the United States. Shortly after Volkswagen confirmed it wouldn't offer the regular variant of the eighth-generation Golf in America, rival Hyundai announced 2020 was the last model year for the Elantra GT. It explained it's axing the model because consumers have shown they prefer sitting high.
Hyundai noted the Elantra GT is leaving American showrooms "due to an expanded SUV lineup that includes the Venue and the Kona." Although both are arguably hatchbacks on stilts, they're more appealing to buyers than the Elantra GT because they're a little bit taller and they wear a more rugged-looking design. Blaming crossovers and SUVs for the GT's demise would be oversimplifying the situation, however. Skimming historical sales figures confirms motorists in the United States have shunned hatchbacks in favor of three-box sedans for years.
In 2011, Volkswagen sold 17,839 examples of the Golf (which was in its sixth generation at the time) and 150,515 units of the Jetta. (Note that neither figure includes the GTI or the Jetta SportWagen.) In 2000, sales of each model totaled 20,747 and 144,853, respectively. In 1991, they were at 8,557 and 38,017, respectively.
The two-box variants of Ford's Focus and Chevrolet's Cruze didn't fare much better, which explains why they both left the American market years ago. Dodge didn't even bother bringing the hatchback version of the Dart to the United States; it was only offered in China, where it was sold as the Fiat Ottimo. This trend is decades old.
With that in mind, Hyundai doesn't think buyers will miss the Elantra GT. It noted the zestier N-Line model will be replaced by the Elantra N-Line, which is expected to break cover in the coming weeks with a turbocharged four-cylinder tuned to deliver approximately 220 horsepower. Drivers who would have bought the standard model will either gravitate towards the Elantra sedan or choose one of the two aforementioned crossovers.
If your heart is set on a new hatchback in this segment of the market, your options are now limited to the Honda Civic (which will soon be replaced by a new American-built model), the all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza, and the surprisingly refined Toyota Corolla. Globally, however, the Elantra GT will continue its career as planned. It's known as the i30 on the other side of the pond, where hatchbacks still sell relatively well, and it's even available with a 275-horsepower turbo four shared with the Veloster N.
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