News Column

Hyundai Introduces Hatchback for Elantra

Feb. 9, 2012

Chris Woodyard


Add a Hyundai to the hatchback wars. The South Korean automaker on Wednesday introduced the Hyundai Elantra GT at the Chicago Auto Show, a five-door compact based on the successful Elantra sedan.

Hatchbacks had all but died out in this market the last couple of years, when they started catching on again in smaller models. Hyundai officials point to the Toyota Prius and its more than 100,000 sales a year as proof that a hatchback works here.

"Elantra GT is a fun-to-drive, functional, five-door compact hatchback," said Mike O'Brien, vice president of product and corporate planning at Hyundai Motor America.

Hyundai thinks the 2013 Elantra GT can beat rivals such as Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf by offering more room inside, better mileage (28 miles per gallon city, 38 highway) and more pep.

The car has a 1.8-liter, 148 horsepower, four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic or manual. The car has more high-strength steel for a stiffer body than the Elantra Touring it replaces.

Redone GMC Acadia more SUV-like

General Motors' GMC signaled a new direction in the crucial large crossover segment, unveiling a 2013 GMC Acadia with an all-new exterior designed to look more like a traditional SUV. It's also one of the first GM vehicles to get a center air bag between the front seats.

The eight-seater's redesign includes a new grille and more LED lighting, and Dave Lyon, GMC and Buick's chief designer, wasn't shy about pointing out the obvious: Acadia is going for the SUV look, thinking that buyers will perceive it as adding more utility. Buick will keep the sleeker look in its full-size Enclave crossover.

"With an award-winning combination of space, capability and fuel-efficiency, Acadia epitomizes GMC's 'never say never' attitude," Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of GMC marketing, said in a statement. "For 2013, our engineers and designers applied that same attitude to developing the new Acadia."

Ford revs up 155 mph Mustang droptop

Just what America needs: a 155-miles-per-hour convertible. And it's a Ford Mustang, not an Italian exotic, meaning it should cost a whole lot less than $100,000 when priced -- and have a back seat.

Ford saved the Shelby GT500 reveal for the Chicago show because it was here 20 years ago that it unveiled the SVT Mustang Cobra. Instead of that car's 235-horsepower engine, the new one will offer an amazing 650 horses. That's where the 155 mph track time came in. A coupe version was introduced in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

"The Shelby GT500 convertible is every bit the performer that the coupe is," said Kerry Baldori, SVT global performance vehicles chief engineer. "All of the significant changes we made in the program were instrumental in delivering a convertible that could really shine on the track but can still be driven on a daily basis." SVT (Special Vehicles Team) is Ford's performance unit.

Mazda dresses up MX-5 roadster

For the Chicago show, Mazda gave Midwesterners a taste of spring with a fun roadster: the MX-5 Miata Special Edition.

And instead of the old ragtop you may remember for the Miata, this time it's a power retractable hardtop available in a second color for the first time.

To dress it up even more, there are two new exterior colors, 17-inch black alloy wheels, black exterior accents, black heated leather seats and piano black interior finishes.

Mazda says the MX-5 Miata is the world's best-selling two-seat roadster. More than 900,000 have been produced since Miata made its global debut at the Chicago show in 1989.

Toyota adds 400 U.S. jobs

Toyota will invest $400 million and add 400 jobs at its plant in Princeton, Ind., to build hybrids in the U.S., starting with the Highlander crossover, Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, announced in a speech here at the Economic Club of Chicago as part of the auto show.

Beetle diesel unveiled

Volkswagen, already the diesel champ in the U.S., is adding a diesel variant of the Beetle. The 2013 model was unveiled at the show -- though the TDI (VW's term for diesel) Beetle looks about the same as the gasoline model -- and is due on sale in August.

Price isn't set yet, but other Volkswagen diesels run roughly $1,500 more than similar gasoline models. It'll be the first diesel Beetle since the 2006 model. VW also offers diesels in its Golf, Jetta and Passat models.

About 20% of all Volkswagens sold in the United States have diesel engines.

VW forecasts a fuel economy rating of 29 mpg in town, 39 mpg on the highway. Look for some sniping by automakers who sell gasoline cars rated higher than that.

The Beetle TDI -- which stands for, approximately, "turbocharged direct injection" -- will be available with a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch DSG transmission.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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