Hyundai's N Division is out to prove it can build the most grin-inducing enthusiast cars on the market, and the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is the latest example of such a car. The Elantra is the latest Hyundai model to be graced with the N treatment, following the success of the Veloster N in the United States and several N models in Europe. Like the Veloster N, the Elantra arrives sporting a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that sounds like it was ripped right from a TCR race car. It produces 276 horsepower in regular operation, all going out to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Though it only comes as a sedan, the Elantra N is thrust into a segment that typically includes the world's most popular hot hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Elantra N also loosely competes with the all-new Honda Civic Si, Volkswagen Jetta GLI, and Subaru WRX, but the Hyundai is more powerful than all of them. With legendary engineer Albert Biermann (formerly of BMW M fame) behind the project, the Elantra N looks ready to bust the hot sedan segment open, creating a new category for the burning hot sedan.
Hyundai has expanded its N high-performance family with the Elantra N, the first N-badged version of the sedan. It comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing up to 286 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque, paired with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Inside and out, it's a much more performance-oriented offering than the standard Elantra. Outside, the sedan comes with an N wing spoiler, an N-style grille, and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there are add-ons like sport bucket seats and an N-branded steering wheel.
To make the sedan better to drive, Hyundai has thrown all its toys at the Elantra N. It comes with torque steer control, an integrated drive axle inspired by WRC rally cars, and an N Grin Shift function for the DCT gearbox that provides a boost of 10 hp for 20 seconds.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The stylistic changes to the Elantra N are immediately noticeable as you approach the car. The standard Elantra already has an intriguing design with its deep body creases and large grille, but the N is particularly aggressive for a sedan in this segment. It's got a special N Design front fascia with a bespoke grille, along with 19-inch N Design alloy wheels. At the back, there's a wing-type spoiler and an N diffuser. The abundance of black trim, along with red detailing along the lower edges of the body, is undeniably sporty. This is the first N model to be offered with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. As expected, LED daytime running lights, LED headlights, and LED taillights are standard. Only the DCT model has a power glass sunroof.
The Hyundai Elantra N's dimensions include a length of 184.1 inches, a width of 71.9 inches, a 107.1-inch wheelbase, and a height of 55.7 inches. By comparison, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is almost three inches longer, although the Elantra N is just over an inch wider.
The Elantra N has a curb weight of 3,186 pounds when equipped with the manual gearbox or 3,296 lbs with the automatic.
The Hyundai Elantra N comes in a choice of five colors, two of which are unique to this range-topping model. These are Cyber Grey and the familiar Performance Blue, the latter having been seen on the Veloster N for some time. The three other hues on offer are Ceramic White, Black Noir Pearl, and Intense Blue. We'll have ours in the striking Performance Blue, but even the more subtle shades can't conceal the Elantra N's high-performance intentions.
The Elantra N lives up to the promise made by that badge. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers a potent 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. However, when equipped with the dual-clutch transmission, the N Grin Shift (NGS) function unleashes another 10 hp (increasing power to 286 hp) for a 20-second burst that maximizes performance. That's a lot of power going to the front wheels, but the Elantra N puts it down like a true professional. A six-speed manual gearbox is also available.
With the DCT gearbox and launch control, the 0-60 sprint is done and dusted in only five seconds. The manual doesn't get a launch control function so isn't as fast, but it's fast enough to have fun, managing the same 60 mph dash in 5.3 seconds. Chasing the upper reaches of the rev range and the car's top speed emits plenty of cracks and pops from the exhaust system, which only adds to the fun.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Elantra N doles out 276 hp and 289 lb-ft, with the peak torque being available between 2,100 and 4,700 rpm. The turbocharged engine provides lots of power and character. It's a pleasing noise and better than most four-pots in this regard.
Hyundai offers the Elantra N with a choice of two transmissions, these being a six-speed manual or an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Though it pains us to say it, we preferred the DCT. We wouldn't fault anyone for choosing the manual, but the super-light clutch felt a bit vague under our foot and the shifter couldn't match the notchy goodness of the Civic Type R or Toyota GR 86. On the plus side, the manual's rev-matching feature is excellent, helping even a novice driver nail the perfect downshifts.
On the Sonoma Raceway in California, we felt more confident with the optional eight-speed DCT. Even when left in automatic mode, the transmission never missed a beat, shifting at the perfect time no matter what. This left us more brainpower to focus on hitting the perfect apex, rather than missing a shift. DCT-equipped cars also gain a cool N Grin Shift function, which puts the transmission into maximum attack and overboosts the engine to produce 10 extra horsepower for 20 seconds. Push the red steering wheel-mounted button on the road, and the Elantra N feels like it just received a nitrous shot.
Fire up the Elantra N, and it quickly becomes apparent this car was developed at the Nurburgring. It all starts with the best exhaust note available from any four-cylinder offered today. The cracks and pops emitted by this car are plucked straight from a race car. It's anyone's guess how Hyundai was able to sneak that past the regulators.
Once you get past the fabulous exhaust note, the rest of the driving experience doesn't disappoint. The steering is pinpoint accurate, offering a level of control and feedback that matches the Honda Civic Type R. Whether on the race track or the public road, the Elantra N rewards its driver with constant communication to the wheel. Yes, that sometimes involves a bit of torque steer, since this car sends all its power to the front wheels, but Dr. Biermann explains this is all in an effort to let the driver know what the car is up to at all times. Though the wheel will sometimes stray a bit under hard acceleration, the Elantra N's clever electronic limited-slip differential helps transmit the power to the ground better than almost any other front-driven car this side of a Golf GTI.
The Elantra N shows how good a FWD platform can be, exhibiting ideal nimbleness for autocross, enough power for the track, and hilarious lift-off oversteer on the road. If you aren't grinning ear-to-ear driving the Elantra N, that's your fault, not the car's.
Complaints? We have a few. The Elantra N is among the best-handling front-drive cars we've ever experienced, but we can't help but wonder how good an AWD model could be with modern tech creating drift modes that make a car feel rear-driven. Another complaint is that, although this car's motorsport credentials are unquestionable, buyers looking for a daily driver may object to the Elantra N's stiff suspension. Whether in normal mode or the back-breaking N mode, the electronically-controlled suspension never feels soft. The Civic Type R or Golf GTI both offer a more comfortable experience, if that's more of a priority.
According to the EPA, the Hyundai Elantra N will manage gas mileage estimates of 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined with the manual gearbox. With the DCT, those figures will dip to a pretty dismal 20/30/23 mpg. By comparison, the VW Jetta GLI achieves a much better 30 mpg combined, although the Hyundai is a lot more powerful than the German car. A similarly-powered, AWD Golf R might be a fairer comparison, with this managing 26 mpg on the combined cycle in the USA with the DSG gearbox.
With its 12.4-gallon gas tank, the Elantra N manual will be able to cover around 310 miles between refills, whereas the DCT model's range drops to about 285 miles.
The Elantra N has a spacious and modern interior design, and it has been spruced up with numerous extras compared to the regular Elantra. For instance, the N lightweight sport bucket seats with an illuminated N logo not only look great but are supportive too. Metal door sills, N performance gauges, and an N-branded steering wheel are some of the sporty upgrades. On the DCT model, the steering wheel gets standard paddle shifters and a bright red button to activate the NGS mode for an extra 10 hp. Key information is displayed on the 10.25-inch central touchscreen and the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. There are many standard features like wireless phone charging and heated front seats, although it would have been nice if the driver had a power-adjustable seat.
Like all Elantra models, the Elantra N is a compact sedan with seating for five occupants. Those in the front are treated to sporty bucket seats with illuminated N logos. Hyundai says the N's seats sit 0.3 inches lower than a standard Elantra seat, providing more headroom and more legroom in the rear thanks to thinner backrests. Both leg- and headroom are ample for average-sized adults. The back seats seem large enough for shorter adults, though the person sitting in the middle will be less than relaxed.
The seats are finished in a mix of black leatherette and microsuede with blue contrast stitching. A leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel are standard too. Metal pedals and scuff plates are further changes that serve as reminders of this being the hottest Elantra you can buy. Although the lower dashboard is made from some harder plastics, the Elantra N's cabin generally feels well screwed together.
At 14.2 cubic feet, the Hyundai's trunk closely matches the size of other sedans in this class like the Honda Civic and VW Jetta. That's enough for all your daily needs, and a family of four should be able to manage a weekend away by packing smartly. There is one downside to the Elantra N's versatility, though. A rear brace installed behind the rear seats improves rigidity, but it can get in the way when loading some larger items. Unlike other Elantras, the Elantra N's rear seat only folds as a single piece, not in a 60/40 split, so you can either accommodate longer items or carry passengers at the back - but not both.
Interior storage includes a fixed armrest storage box and a console storage box below the ventilation controls. Dual front cupholders are fitted, but the Elantra N loses out on a rear center armrest with cupholders as found on most non-N Elantras. There are also door pockets in all four doors, although those at the back are a lot smaller than the ones in front.
The Elantra N's focus on performance has come at the expense of some notable features. For instance, those at the back will miss a center armrest, USB ports, and ventilation outlets. There's also no power-adjustable driver's seat. It's not all bad news, however. The Elantra N still gets a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, push-button ignition, wireless phone charging, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a tilt/telescoping steering column. A sporty digital gauge cluster displays all key information, and this model gets N Performance gauges displaying information like oil temperature and turbo boost pressure. On the driver assistance front, the sedan comes with forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, a rearview camera, and driver attention warning. Only the DCT model comes with a power sunroof and reverse parking collision avoidance assist.
The Elantra N sits atop the Elantra model lineup, meaning it gets the larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen as standard equipment. Another 10.25-inch screen is positioned ahead of the driver and displays key driving information.
This infotainment system includes familiar goodies like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus additional technologies such as Digital Key, allowing owners to unlock and remote start their car with a smartphone. SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth, and dual USB ports are all standard. Hyundai's touchscreen is simple to use, with an intuitive layout and quick touch response. Unique to the Elantra N, the infotainment screen houses a special N section, which includes lap timers, performance gauges, and more. The standard sound system consists of eight speakers including a subwoofer, all supplied by Bose.
Although the Elantra N hasn't been specifically rated by J.D. Power yet, the normal 2022 Elantra attained a solid rating of 80 out of 100 for quality and reliability. According to the NHTSA, there have been no recalls for the 2022 Elantra N so we hope this doesn't change. The regular Elantra is recall-free for 2022 as well but suffered two recalls last year for a seatbelt pretensioner that could explode and seatback recliners that were improperly welded. As the Elantra N is a 2022 model, it's fair to assume that these issues have been rectified.
If anything does go wrong, one of the Elantra N's trump cards is its class-leading warranty. The sporty sedan comes with a five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a seven-year anti-perforation warranty. Hyundai also throws in three years or 36,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
The NHTSA has only evaluated the new Elantra N for the rollover test, for which it attained a full five-star rating. The standard 2022 Elantra achieved a full five-star overall safety rating, including a four-star rating for the frontal crash and five stars for the side crash. The Elantra N should have no trouble replicating these results. The IIHS's review of the Hyundai Elantra resulted in Good ratings in every crashworthiness test and it was named a 2021 Top Safety Pick. We expect the 2022 Elantra N to continue in the same vein.
Like other Elantras, the sporty N model comes with vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, traction control, and hill-start assist. Tire pressure monitoring rounds out the list of active safety systems. A complement of six airbags includes dual front, dual front-side, and side-curtain airbags. A rearview camera is standard and images are projected onto the 10.25-inch central display.
The more advanced driver-assist equipment consists of forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, lane following assist, driver attention warning, high beam assist, safe exit warning, and rear occupant alert. Reverse parking collision avoidance assist is limited to the DCT model, but both Elantra Ns only get regular cruise control, not the smart cruise control system equipped to some non-N Elantra derivatives.
If you're looking for an affordable performance car to put a huge grin on your face, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N sedan is an impressive option. In a segment full of standout vehicles like the Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX, and Volkswagen Jetta GLI, the Elantra N burns bright with an ear-popping exhaust, near-perfect chassis, outrageous styling, and a performance-oriented interior. Hyundai managed to create a track weapon without ruining the Elantra's practicality, though the aforementioned competitors offer more plush suspensions.
It's difficult to present a final verdict since Hyundai hasn't released 2022 Elantra N pricing as of this writing, but we'd find it hard not to recommend this car to an enthusiast buyer. The Elantra N is the most fun you can have with front-wheel drive, whether with the row-it-yourself manual or the quick-shifting DCT. This is a car we could easily imagine parked in our garage - it's that fun.
At the time of writing, Hyundai had not yet revealed the price of the Hyundai Elantra N but we expect the sedan to come in with an MSRP of around $32,000-$34,000. The cost of the manual vs the DCT has not yet been ascertained. If you're adamant on a Hyundai badge and N styling the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line retails for $24,250.
The 2022 Elantra N is only offered in one trim, although there are two transmission choices. Both the six-speed manual and the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic are paired to a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 producing 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. The DCT gearbox comes with an N Grin Shift overboost feature that temporarily increases the power to 286 hp. A limited-slip differential and a rear chassis brace are further enhancements made to the N.
Outside, the Elantra N rides on stylish 19-inch alloy wheels. It has full LED exterior lighting, a matte black grille, and a wing-type spoiler with a glossy black finish. A power sunroof is fitted to the DCT-equipped model.
The sporty cabin is highlighted by front bucket seats. The upholstery is a mix of Alcantara and leatherette, and N-specific touches such as blue stitching are found everywhere. A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster is complemented by a 10.25-inch central touchscreen. Standard features consist of dual-zone climate control, navigation, heated front seats, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an eight-speaker sound system.
On the safety front, the sedan comes with forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, driver attention alert, and lane-keep assist, among others.
At the time of writing, Hyundai hadn't announced the availability of any packages for the Elantra N. We do, however, expect to find minor accessories for the cargo area and for better preparing the sedan for wet weather environments.
Hyundai kept the Elantra N's packaging simple, so it really comes down to whether you prefer the manual or the dual-clutch automatic transmission. As a small consideration, the DCT car is available with a sunroof, while the manual car is slick-top only. If the sunroof doesn't sway you, the DCT's quicker 0-60 time with launch control and hilarious NGS (N Grin Shift) mode might do it. On the track, the DCT car will certainly be quicker, but there's something to be said for the six-speed manual and its well-tuned rev-match feature. You can't choose wrong here, but if it were our money, we'd get the DCT.
The Kia lineup is full of expressively styled SUVs and even snazzy sedans like the K5, but the Forte is a more conservative package. It's an attractive and capable sedan, though, but the Elantra is the one that'll catch your eye first. In GT form, the Kia utilizes a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with 201 hp. That's not bad, but it can't match the Elantra N's output. Then again, the Forte GT is a high-value package at a starting price of under $24,000, and a manual model is on offer too. With some options, the Kia is even better-equipped. But the Hyundai is a more focused sedan under the skin. It's a proper N product, whereas the Forte GT is merely a more powerful version of a rather conservative sedan. The Hyundai excites us more and is our choice.
Like The Kia Forte GT, the Honda Civic Si is down on power alongside the Elantra N. The Si's 1.5-liter churns out 200 hp and 192 lb-ft, well down on the Elantra N's peaks of 286 hp and 289 lb-ft. There's plenty to admire about the Honda, though. It's got a beautifully balanced chassis, a wonderfully designed interior, and a compelling starting price of under $28,000. We are big fans of its manual gearbox too. But the Elantra N turns up the heat both in the way it looks and in the manner in which it performs. It doesn't try to hide its intentions and makes the Civic Si look quite docile by comparison. The Elantra also offers the option of that slick DCT gearbox, making it considerably quicker than the Civic. Both cars are similarly practical and specified. If you are able to spend more on the Hyundai, you won't regret it.
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