Automobile

2022 Hyundai Elantra N First Drive Review: You Can’t Spell Fun Without N

The Elantra N may be noticeably more refined for road use than its always-on Veloster sibling, but that’s not to say it can’t light a fire under your ass when you want it to. Quite the opposite, actually, because on track, the first high-po Elantra is playfully composed and extremely good fun. With the ace e-LSD set in maximum attack mode, understeer is non-existent unless you recklessly go looking for it. 

The brakes perform solidly and so do the steering and the chassis. Pretty much all of the Elantra N’s hardware feels pleasantly weighted, moves with a taut fluidity, and feels about just as at home doing circuit work as the Subaru BRZ, a dedicated, two-door, rear-drive sports car. The Hyundai may be front-wheel-drive, but provoke it through a twisting, undulating corner with enough speed and the rear will step out on you. 

Even at a more responsible pace, however, the Elantra N is still a delight and a half to drive. Partly thanks to some immensely customizable drive modes, it can be civilized or a proper firecracking track star when you want it to be and is just an extremely competent collection of high-quality components, whether you’re talking engine, transmission, chassis, or suspension. 

Practical Considerations

On the subject of “quality components,” the Elantra N’s interior is a reasonably nice place to spend time but some of the plastics are noticeably lower-rent than those found in, say, the rival Volkswagens. You’ll forgive it for its usability, though, because while the aforementioned Golfs have now knee-capped themselves with a seriously challenging, touch-based UX, the Elantra’s cabin actually boasts a similarly minimalist, dash-spanning-vent visual style. It, thank the Lord, keeps buttons and knobs intact, clearly labeled, and intuitively placed. 

Even the parking brake is of the manual, instant-tray-drift variety—even with the DCT—and you gotta love it for that. 

Dual 10.25-inch screens are standard, as are heated seats featuring livable, sporty bolstering and an N logo that illuminates in tandem with the dome light. The rear seats, which boast lots of legroom and a decent amount of headroom, fold down as one piece but the passthrough is partially obstructed by a red-painted brace. That brace undoubtedly contributes to the Elantra N’s impressive rigidity but does impede on this car’s ability to haul bigger items from Ikea. Other than that, though, Hyundai’s hot Elantra is really very daily-able. Driven with care in Normal mode, it doesn’t feel all that different from a regular, albeit extremely well-sorted, compact car. Really, the only driving-related complaint I can muster is that highway road noise can be a little loud but, all in all, the Elantra N is a goddamn winner. 

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