2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
The great awakening
Photos And Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Talk about the woke generation! Boy, did Hyundai ever wake this one up. The formerly mundane and rather sleepy eyed Elantra sedan has received a transfusion of race track elixir and goes straight to the top of the sport compact segment. The N's body shape remains pleasingly similar to the eye catching style of the SE, SEL and Limited versions of the Elantra, but underneath the skin everything has been revised to appeal to the high performance aficionado.
Instead of the somnolent 147hp engine powering all other forms of Elantra, the N Line motor, fitted with a turbo, bumps output by 54 ponies to 201hp. Torque production ramps up too, with a 63 pound boost from 132lb.-ft. in the stock Elantra to 195lb.-ft. in the N Line. Best of all, the N Line achieves peak torque at 1500 rpm and holds that value all the way to 4500rpm. The stock Elantra motor doesn't produce its measly peak torque of 132lb.-ft. until you spin it to 4500rpm. What all this means to you the driver is an instant surge of performance whenever you need it. The 0-60 mph run flashes past in 6.5 seconds and the standing start quarter mile takes less than 14.5 seconds. Top speed of the N Line is 125mph.
Therefore, it's no wonder that Hyundai has chosen the N Line Elantra to represent the company in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge road races. As the 2021 season draws to an end, the factory backed Elantra N Line, co-driven by Ryan Norman for Bryan Herta Autosport, is leading the point standings. In addition to the major engine upgrade, the N Line incorporates a host of tuning refinements you can't see but will most certainly appreciate on a twisty back road, an autocross course or a race track. The biggest improvement over all other Elantra variants is the N Line's multi-link independent rear suspension which improves handling significantly. Equally important upgrades include larger front brake rotors, stiffer powertrain mounting points. Revised chassis tuning benefits from stiffer front and rear sway bars and coil springs. Front spring rate are up 20% and rears by 71%.
You might assume these changes have converted the Elantra into a stiff riding, uncompromising high performance sedan. You'd be right about the high performance part, but wrong about the ride quality deterioration. In fact, the N Line is one of the most comfortable sedans we've driven in a long time, gliding over bumps and road imperfections with thoroughbred ease. To start your Elantra odyssey, engage "Sport" on the large Drive Mode push button which is intelligently placed directly in your line of vision on the upper dash left of the steering wheel. This setting puts the Elantra on notice that some spirited driving is on the docket. When you tackle a repetitive series of fast S-bends, the chassis hunkers down and allows the excellent Hankook Ventus S1 A/S radials (235/40R18) to get to grips with the pavement. No BMW 3Series, Honda Civic S or VW Jetta GLI will embarrass the N Line on any back road.
You might rightly expect to pay mid to high thirty thousand dollars for such a well conceived sport compact sedan, but you'd be way off the mark. The Elantra N Line starts at $24,250 for the 6-speed manual gearbox model. Our test car was equipped with the $1,100 optional 7-speed DSG dual clutch transmission with Shiftronic logic and Paddle Shifters. Out the door price on this combo was $26,360 including $1,100 for "Inland Freighting and Handling."
Hyundai N cars have been making quite a splash over the last two years. How did this Korean company manage to transform itself into a performance Mecca for enthusiasts? Back in 2015, they hired former BMW M brand chief Albert Biermann to develop the N Line brand of high performance vehicles. Ironically, over the intervening 6 years, BMW's M brand has become increasingly divorced from high performance, while Hyundai's N Line is now winning races and titles worldwide. Their latest family sedan offering, the Elantra N Line, is a good index of where this company is heading. They intend to offer the best bang for your performance buck. The handsome, affordable and fast Elantra N we enjoyed is prima fascia evidence of their success in that endeavor.
2021 HYUNDAI ELANTRA N LINE
ENGINE: 1.6 liter inline 4, turbocharged, gas direct injection, DOHC, 16 valve aluminum head and block
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 28MPG City/36MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $26,360
HYPES: Quick, Responsive, Handsome
GRIPES: Give Me the 6 Speed manual
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10