The base price in Canada for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is $17,899, $19,850 in the US.
The Elantra N Line is $27,799 in Canada.
The full-fat Elantra is a serious 276-horsepower hot compact car.
I should have known better. I’ve driven the Veloster N and the Sonata N Line, both of which turned out to be truly engrossing. For some reason, I figured that the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line was going to be nothing more than distracting, but it turns out that it’s an addictively good sporty car.
Why did I think the Elantra N Line was only going to be OK? The main culprit, I think, is the turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine. This same mill finds its way in nearly all of Hyundai’s vehicles and though it’s very capable, it never struck as being potent enough for real speed and performance. I was wrong.
N Line turbo and DCT combo
The 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, from 1,500-4,500 rpm, get the 3,000-lb car up to speed with far more vigor than the output numbers suggest. From the seat-of-my-pants meter, the Elantra N Line feels as quick as the MK7 Volkswagen Golf GTI and its 228 horsepower 2.0T. Part of the butt-meter’s reading can be attributed to the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – It does its job with a complete disregard for its longevity. In other words, it shifts with precision and speeds that rival all other DCT transmissions. It can also be smooth while cruising.
And cruising I did as I traveled from Montreal to Toronto with the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of driving on the 401 between Kingston and Toronto, you’ll undoubtedly remember the left-lane hoggers and the countless 18-wheelers going about their business of passing one another at 103 km/h. In these scenarios, let’s just say that I rarely missed an opportunity to distance myself from these nettlesome situations.
The Elantra N Line’s responsive controls practically egged me on, almost encouraging me to drive like 22-year Matt. The 1.6T’s wide powerband, beautifully managed by the 7DCT, made passing manoeuvres a breeze. Supported by a properly- and sport-tuned chassis, the Elantra handled itself admirably well.
One issue I’ve had with many Hyundai cars in the past was steering. Previously, on-center-play with an assistance gap haunted me and marred the driving experience. But not so with the Elantra N Line. In fact, it was potentially the best-steering Hyundai, including the Genesis Coupe, I’ve ever driven.
Overall refinement is limited with the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line. That’s part of its personality but ultimately, it’s not necessary. At average highway and byway speeds, even as low as 70 km/h, the cabin is quite noisy. Tire, wind, and road noises penetrate into the cabin making it challenging to complete hands-free phone calls. That’s 45-year-old me talking. 25-year-old doesn’t give a damn.
Same attractive cabin but needs better seats
The N Line’s cabin is 95% identical to the regular Elantra’s. the main differences are the N Line Sport seats which cruelly lack lumbar support, the N Line steering wheel, and aluminium sport pedals. Other than lower-back discomfort, the front perches are supportive and firm for both track use and road trips.
The level of included infotainment technologies is impressive. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are featured however the system dropped my phone repeatedly during my near 12-hour drive. Otherwise. The roomy interior and spacious trunk mean that there’s always room for friends and plenty of gear.
Busy Parametric Dynamics design
I bring it up every time and, to a point, I’ve been vindicated. I’ve complained for years now that Hyundai goes far too far out of its way to redesign every new generation of a given product. It appears as though they overshot with the current Sonata as they will completely redesign the car well ahead of schedule.
The Elantra is only a notch less over-the-top. And while the design was slightly offensive when I first came into contact with the Elantra, it has already become such a common sight that it’s all but invisible now. Even so, there are elements about the N Line that properly differentiate it from the other Elantras.
The N Line’s front fascia is more aggressive with extra visual bite especially in the lower extremities, it rolls on unique 18-inch wheels, and as we move to the back, the black lip spoiler and dual exhaust tips become apparent. Subtle though these touches may be, they are fitting.
The N Line stacks up nicely
The new 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line is priced at $27,799. As tested, the Fiery Red paint scheme added all of $200 to the total. At this price, it undercuts the new 2022 Volkswagen GTI by roughly $3,500, and, looking back to 2020 and the Honda Civic Si, the Elantra is about $2,500 less expensive. The 2021 Subaru WRX is another serious contender that is more powerful and benefits from AWD for $29,995.
In fact, most of its competition comes from within the Hyundai Group from the likes of the Kia Forte GT, the Kona N Line, to name a pair. Truth be told, and unsurprisingly, the Elantra N Line is a bargain. But is it better?
I’ve unfortunately not driven the new MK8 GTI but I’m certain that the price difference will easily be excused by the extra power, better on-road manners, more refinement, and comfort without sacrificing any performance. I will say that I would select an Elantra N Line over a 10th generation Civic Si.
Bottom line: I really like the Elantra N Line.