2022 Hyundai Elantra N First Look: Compact Sport Sedan, N-gage!

After a tantalizing teaser campaign, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N has been fully revealed in Korea. The turbocharged sport sedan’s U.S. specifications will be released next month at the New York Auto Show, but we doubt they’ll differ much from what Hyundai’s home-market HQ dropped on the motoring world.

Speaking of dropping stuff, the Elantra N is a metaphorical sack of bricks hanging over the heads of Honda’s Civic Si and Volkswagen’s Jetta GLI. Both of those sporty sedans—the Honda is on the cusp of replacement, so we’re estimating its specs—pack a little over 200 horsepower from turbocharged four-cylinder engines, ride on stiffened chassis, and get neat little sporty touches including bolstered seats, additional body bits, and saucy wheels. The Elantra N, on the other hand, is notably wilder-looking and more wildly capable than either the Honda or the VW, as well as the humble Elantra economy sedan on which it’s based. Oh, and did we mention it’ll have 275-plus horsepower?

The Sportiest Compact Sedan?

There’s no way we can declare the Elantra N the king of the small performance sedan hill based solely on its specifications and without having driven it yet. But on paper, the Hyundai is a strong entrant to the (admittedly tiny) field. Whereas the outgoing Civic Si made do with just 205 horses (again, the new model’s specs are forthcoming) and the Jetta GLI muscles around with 228, the Elantra N and its turbocharged 2.0-liter four strut onto the scene with 276 horsepower. We anticipate both this figure and its 289 lb-ft of torque will hold for the U.S. market, as the same engine is used in the Veloster N hot hatchback where it produces 275 ponies, 1 fewer than international models. A temporary overboost function dubbed “N Grin Shift” temporarily bumps output to 286 hp via a steering-wheel button.

This powerful I-4 breathes through a variable exhaust and spins the front tires through either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic along with a limited-slip differential. Top speed stands at 155 mph, with the run from zero t0 62 mph estimated to take 5.3 seconds. Quick.

Hyundai’s N transformation for the Elantra also includes a wholesale swap of the normal Elantra’s twist-beam rear suspension in favor of a more sophisticated and tunable multilink setup. Bigger brakes (including 14.2-inch rotors up front) and beefier tires (245-section Michelin PS4s said to be the widest fitted to any N vehicle so far) team with stiffer springs and firmer dampers to amp up the Elantra’s handling game. Hyundai notes how it went granular with its suspension bushing selection to isolate vertical impact response (say, over bumps) from lateral stiffness (deflection under hard cornering) so as to maximize ride quality and handling precision with minimal compromises to either.

It Looks Fast

Setting aside the outgoing 10th-gen Civic and Civic Si’s vent-tastic styling and riotous body detailing in general—the new 11th-gen Civic is much more mature—the new Elantra N jumps to the front of the bold-styling line.

Its face is all ate up with intakes, there’s a jaunty spoiler mounted to the the trunklid, and red-painted accents run along the bottoms of the bumpers and rocker panels like on the Veloster N. This dressing, along with webby 19-inch wheels and those bigger brakes peeking out from behind them, is ladled over the basic Elantra’s already in-your-face body creases and eye-catching lighting. Seen here in the same pale blue paint color that debuted on the Veloster N hatchback, the Elantra N looks downright racy.

Inside, the latest Elantra’s interior is amped up by well-bolstered front sport seats (plus an available lightweight seat with a backlit N badge that sits 0.2-inch lower), N badges throughout, and N-specific menus on the central touchscreen and driver-information display. Those N-specific graphics also include coolant and oil temperature readouts, a lap timer, G-force and acceleration meters; Hyundai also is readying an N app for customers in Korea and, we suspect, global markets, as well.

Expect final details and U.S. specifications next month at the Elantra N’s full debut in New York. Pricing also is forthcoming, but we figure the N will undercut less-powerful competitors such as the Civic Si and Jetta GLI—just as the Veloster N undercut the now-defunct Civic Si coupe and Volkswagen GTI hatchback.

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