If there is a vehicle out there that’s surprised me lately - it’s my latest review vehicle, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line. The N Line serves a precursor to the upcoming high-performance N-Badged model headed our way next year. (And if the N-Line is any indication, the N-badged model is going to quite a ride.)
2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line
The redesigned 2021 Elantra won 2021 North American Car of the Year. So the N Line already had a lot going for it, as I shared in my earlier review of the SEL trim. The N Line amps up the fun factor as the only turbocharged option in the current lineup. Its acceleration and sporty handling immediately makes you wonder if you’re really behind the wheel of, well, an Elantra. I’d go as far to describe it as a wanna-be sports coupe masquerading as a four-door.
The black-accented Elantra N Line displays its sporty intentions right away with an N Line front grille, bumper, and badging along with an N Line unique rear fascia with diffuser and dual chrome exhaust. The N Line also gets a glossy black window surround and heated outside mirrors treatment. It rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, which I like better than the ones on the SEL. I’d like to see LED headlights on the entire Elantra lineup as opposed to projector headlights. The N Line does receive LED Daytime Running Lights and full LED Tail Lights.
The N Line delivers the most horsepower in the current lineup (which will change with the upcoming 287-hp N-badged model.) A 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 201-horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Terrific acceleration makes it feel more powerful than the number. A 6-speed manual is standard, but my test vehicle is equipped with the optional, very smooth shifting, 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters. They serve this vehicle well. The Elantra N Line is efficient, too, offering a combined 31 highway mpg and there is no stop/start on this model.
Ride and Drive
Start the Elantra N Line up and you’ll note the exhaust sound- and while it’s not overpowering - it’s one I just don’t expect to hear from an Elantra. Next you discover how fun and engaging it is to drive. Steering is responsive, handling terrific as is the N Line-exclusive multi-link rear suspension. It took on my usual two lane curvy road test with ease, though since this is a forward-wheel drive model, more rear-wheel torque was on my wish list. You do get some body roll in the sport bolstered seats, something I’m sure we’ll see less of in the track-ready N-badged model. One of the first things I noticed, too, were the sharp, exceptional brakes, thanks to lineup exclusive 12-inch front brake rotors. In terms of the ride itself, the highway ride was a bit on the noisier side.
A sporty, well-designed and roomy interior greets you. Red stitching accents the door panels, dash, steering wheel and seats. While there are some soft touch materials, there is the plastic you expect at this price point. The N Line is equipped with black leather-trimmed sport seats with N-badged cloth inserts. Both front seats are heated. The 6-way power driver’s seat offers power lumbar support while the passenger’s seat is four-way manually adjustable. Alloy sport pedals greet your feet and you grasp a leather-wrapped Sport steering wheel.
I’m really happy to see a unique N Line, mostly analog gauge cluster. It fits the sportiness of this compact sedan perfectly - and Hyundai’s all-digital display, while terrific, just wouldn’t have fit its personality nearly as well. A digital element on the right displays scrollable driver information. A large can’t-miss drive mode button, trimmed in red, is located to the left of the cluster. Select from Normal, Sport and Smart drive modes.
My favorite interior design feature is the sharp-looking N-line badged leather-wrapped gear shift on the center console. Wow, does it look like a manual when you see it. Also on the center console you find a button for a panoramic camera. A hand lever parking brake sits to the right of the driver’s seat. To the left of the driver’s seat there are traditional levers to open the hood and fuel door.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, a black headliner, heated front seats, dual-zone climate, a power sunroof, hands-free smart trunk release, dual USB ports, a 12V outlet.
The 60/40 split back seat with a drop-down armrest is very roomy. There is plenty of leg- and headroom, even for the middle seat passenger. The roomy trunk offers 14.2 cubic-feet of space.
The N Line is equipped with an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen (instead of Hyundai’s larger 10.25-inch display) surrounded by glossy black, buttons and knobs to control the 6-speaker sound system. The touchscreen itself is responsive and houses available apps and system controls along with a backup camera. Navigation isn’t integrated into the 8-inch system so much be accessed via a smartphone.
Connectivity wise, the N Line comes with dual USB ports, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto along with Bluetooth. A wireless phone charger is also standard.
A downside of the N Line is that it doesn’t come with adaptive cruise control (it’s an option on the SEL.) The Elantra lineup does not offer Blind Spot View Monitor or Highway Driving Assist. You do get a host of other great safety features though like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping and lane following assist, driver attention warning and safe exit assist.
What You’ll Pay
At just over $26,000 the Elantra N Line is a great value in its compact sedan segment. $155 carpeted floor mats are my test model’s only listed option.
If you’re looking for a sedan with a decidedly sportier side that’s fun to drive, fuel efficient and under $27,000, check out the N Line.
- What I Liked Most: Acceleration and Handling. Gauge Cluster. Gear Shift.
- What I would change: Make it rear-wheel drive.
- Fuel Economy: 28 city /36 highway/31 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,421 miles.
- Weight: 3,020 pounds (A/T).
- Spare Tire: Temporary Compact Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 184.1” long/ 71.9” wide/55.7” high
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.4 gallons with the fuel filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Official Color: Intense Blue.
- 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line: A surprisingly fun-to-drive sporty and stylish four-door sedan that’s a two-door coupe at heart.
- Warranty: 5 year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty; 10 year/100,000-mile Warranty; 7-year / Unlimited mile anti-perforation warranty. Complimentary Maintenance: 3 years/36,000 miles. 5-year, Unlimited mile roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Ulsan, Korea.
- Manufacturer's website: Hyundai