Hyundai Sonata N Line Review: Is This Hot Hyundai Hot Enough?
It’s no secret that Hyundai’s N division is on the rise. It is operated by ex-BMW M division chief Honchos and has proven that it is more than just a cable to hold its own against famous performance badges such as the Type R and GTI. Hyundai N line Cars are a different story, however. Similar to the M Performance models from BMW, they serve as a springboard – half a house between the everyday and the crazy. As brands continue to layer their range of services and create ever smaller niches, we wondered why the South Korean automaker didn’t buck this trend and opted for the Hyundai Sonata N Line in 2021.
For its part, Hyundai doesn’t seem to know what N Line should be either. The 2022 Kona N Line and the 2022 Tucson N Line are just pear packages, nifty cosmetics that give the sport the pear without making the cars sportier. However, the Sonata N-line we have here is much closer in philosophy to a full-fledged N-car, and that is the reason for the main flaw (and only for Perhs).
We’ll get into this weed a little later. For now the good things. The 2.5-liter turbocharged I-4 under the hood transfers 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. If you want to meet a Camry TRD or Honda Accord Sport 2.0 by a series of lights, send them and their so-called sports badge packaging.
Hyundai’s stud athlete takes just 5.3 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph. It takes the Camry and Accord about half a second longer to do the same act, and that g stays steady at the end of a quarter mile. It also flashes our figure eight test in 25.8 seconds. The handling of the All-Star-Accord Sport 2.0 is 0.6 seconds slower, and the TRD is 0.8 seconds slower than the pace of the N-line.
The Sonata N Line delivers the kind of punch that makes you think, “You mean This is a sonata ?! “After all, it comes from a class of cars that, let’s face it, is about as interesting as yesterday’s warmed milk. But under the skin of the N-Line hides an impressive amount of talent, not all of which is the enthusiastic engine The dampers have been retuned and are significantly stiffer than the setup of the standard car.
The result is an almost complete lack of roll, sharp steering, and agility above weight. The Camry TRD also has its own sharpened suspension, but this car is so solid it gets old quickly every day. The Sonata N Line, on the other hand, is still supple and cares just as much about maintaining body control as it is about the comfort of its passengers.
Firm as it is, the Sonata N Line drives, steers, stops and drives in a way that goes well beyond what is expected of a car of this type. The driving modes Normal, Sport, Sport + and Custom change the weight of the steering and the responsiveness of the engine. However, the dampers themselves are passive and remain the same regardless of the mode.
Weak points? Not many. The dual-clutch transmission occasionally gives you a nice slap in the back just to remind you that it’s not Porsche’s PDK, and the gray-on-gray interior is a bit bland. But these are small handles. Everything you touch is high quality, the infotainment is no frills, the cabin feels airy and is well lit thanks to a huge sun canopy, and there is plenty of space for passengers in the back seats. Plus, the seats have adjustable side bolsters, which at this price point is virtually unknown.
Overall, the Sonata N Line is really excellent. In fact, the result of all the work Hyundai and its N Line team have put in is so impressive that anything less than a BMW M3 or Audi RS5 would have the devil’s job of getting you rid of you on a winding back road. You can’t say that about a Camry TRD.
Kudos, but there is a caveat that is made up of two questions: why did Hyundai go to the trouble of making this sonata so fast and wired without going all the way? If N Line is supposed to be the epitome of sportiness and N cars are the real performance machines, where is this car? We asked Hyundai if they could sort this out for us.
Your answer is heat. Hyundai said the Veloster N and the upcoming Elantra N were both designed to cope with the thermal loads that the locations of use keep them on. This means more robust cooling for the motor, gearbox, brakes, differential, etc. The expansion of the thermal envelope of the Sonata N Line to a point at which the track can be used and can be described as a full N (according to Hyundai’s own internal standard) , would have made the car considerably more expensive.
The addition of the extra cooling and Hyundai’s excellent limited-slip differential would have pushed the price of the N Line up, but the $ 34,305 price tested is still a steal given the cables it contains. Hyundai is likely concerned that $ 38,000 (or more) in demand for a Sonata N would effectively drive the car out of its intended market. But if only these potential buyers knew what to get for that extra batter – or in this case, what they’re currently missing out on.
The addition of a limited slip differential, some rubber stickier than the Continental PremiumContact 6s our test car carried, and Hyundai’s adjustable shock absorbers would take the N line to another level – both literally by making them an N, as well as figuratively by being made evenly more flavorful dynamite stick. If Mazda can ask for $ 36,895 for the top spec Mazda 6 Signature, this author thinks there is room for a more expensive Sonata N with all the features you would expect from a high performance machine.
We all know, however, that sedans are a dying breed – and performance-oriented sedans occupy a niche that is shrinking every year. Plus, integrating an LSD requires a lot more work than you might think. In the end, the Sonata N Line is more of an auto than most of its buyers can take full advantage of, and all the better for them. If you’re looking for a way to make it even better, toss the gum it comes on and get yourself some really sticky shoes.
So is this hot Hyundai hot enough? For most, the answer is a resounding yes. We only know that there are only a few parts and an N special sauce that eschew anything game-changing.
Looks good! More details?
|2021 Hyundai Sonata N-Line|
|BASIC PRICE||$ 34,305|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$ 34,305|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.5 L / 290 PS / 311 lb-ft Turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed dual clutch car|
|CURB WEIGHT (F / R DIST)||62/38% (3,496 lb)|
|Length x width x height||192.9 x 73.2 x 56.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.9 seconds at 103.5 mph|
|BRAKES, 60-0 MPH||110 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (average)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.8 s at 0.72 g (average)|
|EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON||26/35/29 mpg (est)|
|ENERGIEKONS, CITY / HWY||130/96 kWh / 100 miles (est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.66 lb / mile (est)|