2022 Hyundai Elantra N M/T – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A stunning achievement
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Though it may look like one, this is not just another sedan. Yes, it has four doors, seating for five adults, and a 14 cubic foot trunk - all the earmarks of a practical family hauler. Even our Ceramic White test car's red trim was subtle enough to evade undue notice from both other drivers and the law. But beneath its deceptively tranquil skin lies the layout of a race car.
Heft the surprisingly heavy hood and you will discover a four cylinder, twin scroll turbocharged gas engine that has been torching the opposition in IMSA's Michelin Pilot Sport touring car (TC) division. This fuel injected 2 liter mill is perfectly symmetrical, with 86mm bore and stroke dimensions. While similar to the 276hp engine Hyundai fits to their Veloster N, the Elantra version adds an over-boost feature which provides an extra 10hp when you depress the red "N" button attached to the right spoke of the steering wheel. Think of it as the "Push-To-Pass" feature fitted to the current crop of Indycars. But unlike the limited number of boost time offered in Indycar, the Elantra N produces an endless succession of what Hyundai calls "N Grin Shifts."
If you want to derive maximum enjoyment from your Elantra N, select the M/T or manual transmission version, which offers 6 well spaced ratios and a staunch gear shift mechanism attached to a palm-pleasing fat knob. Similar to the classic Borg Warner T-10 4-speed manual, the Hyundai gearbox also utilizes a handy lift ring to access reverse and prevent you from engaging "R" accidentally. Unlike old-time manual gearboxes however, this new 6-speed allows you to select (or delete) "rev-matching" technology to facilitate smooth downshifts. With a base price of $33.245, the M/T "N" will save you $1,500 compared to the also available dual clutch version automatic which retails for $34,745. Buy the automatic and you also get a retractable sunroof which is unavailable on the M/T. In a sports sedan with this much performance potential, the added structural integrity provided by a solid roof is a big plus. Besides, the sheer joy of swapping gears yourself is such a rare treat today it would be a shame to opt for the boredom of automation.
In order to insure that the Elantra N wins its share of IMSA races, Hyundai has homologated a laundry list of potent refinements that distinguish the N model from lesser variants. To that end, they beefed up the basic chassis with an impressively long list of go-fast goodies. Topping the list is a set of 19 x 8 inch alloy rims shod with 245/35R19 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (summer-only) rubber. These Michelins are designed specifically for this application. In fact, the car's window sticker lists them as the only tires OEM tires supplied for the Elantra N. They carry a soft Treadwear rating of TW 300 and a Traction rating of AA, They stick like glue no matter how much you provoke them into breaking traction.
Of course the Michelins are only as good as the chassis to which they are attached. To make the N model stiffer than stock, Hyundai installs a rear chassis brace which is finished in red enamel and visible inside the trunk. They also tweak the rear end with a "Corner Carving" electronic limited slip attached to special "N integrated drive axles." They fit the engine with a sport exhaust system with variable valve positions, and bolt ventilated 14.2 inch front disc brakes and 12.4 inch rear discs behind those dazzling alloy rims. All these race-oriented bits allow Hyundai's designated factory Elantra race team, run by Bryan Herta Autosport, to kick butt in IMSA competition.
Hyundai also provides a pair of the best sports seats available today. Fully ensconced, you will find them wonderfully supportive as the Elantra nips apexes with precise alacrity. The interior is intelligently laid out, with a pair of 10.25 inch screens. One lies directly behind the steering wheel, and can be configured to provide exactly the information you seek. The other lies atop the dash, and displays navigational maps, music info, plus N-specific set-up information. The only drawback to the interior is the paucity of rear vision. Small, upturned rear quarter windows and a minimal backlight combine to make reverse maneuvers difficult. You will need to rely on the screen image projected from the backup camera, because otherwise you can't see what behind you.
The Elantra N is a stunning achievement. It is invigorating to drive, responsive to your every command, and an unbelievable bargain at $33,245. Your neighbors will think you bought just another family sedan. But you will know different.
2022 HYUNDAI ELANTRA N SPORT M/T
• ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, twin scroll turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC, 16-valve, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
• HORSEPOWER: 276/286hp@6000rpm
• TORQUE: 289lb.-ft.@2100rpm
• FUEL CONSUMPTION: 22MPG City/31MPG Highway
• PRICE AS TESTED: $33,245
HYPES: Phenomenal Performance
GRIPES: Clutch a Touch Light, Poor Aft Vision
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10