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TRACK TESTED: 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Is Everything We Want in a Sport Sedan

TRACK TESTED: 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Is Everything We Want in a Sport Sedan

We tested both the manual and the automatic

  • Hyundai's N performance division has upgraded the Elantra's suspension, brakes, tires and engine — and the results are excellent.
  • With the manual transmission, the Elantra N hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Not bad, but the quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic knocked that down to 5.4 seconds.
  • Overall, the Elantra N is one of the best-performing compacts we've ever tested.

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is what we've been waiting for from Hyundai's performance N division. While we're fans of the Veloster N, that hot hatch's quirky three-door layout limits its appeal. With the Elantra N, Hyundai has stuffed even sportier handling and stronger acceleration into a more approachable sedan package. We loved it the first time we got behind the wheel. Subsequently, it beat down the venerable Subaru WRX in an Edmunds U-Drag and nearly took the crown in an autocross comparison test against the WRX and Volkswagen Golf GTI. But what about the raw numbers? Here's how the Elantra N performed at the Edmunds test track.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

A tale of two transmissions

All Elantra Ns use a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that sends 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. For reference, the Veloster N makes 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Like the Veloster N, the Elantra N is available with two transmissions: a six-speed manual or an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). Dual-clutch-equipped models have a feature Hyundai calls N Grin Shift (NGS) that temporarily increases the engine's output to 286 horsepower.

We tested both transmissions to evaluate the Elantra N's full range of offerings. Both cars nailed their quickest runs using the built-in launch control system that allows you to adjust the launch rpm. We found that 2,500 rpm seemed to be the sweet spot in both cars.

Edmunds logo
2022 Hyundai Elantra N (manual)01/31/226.4 sec14.7 sec
@ 99.0 mph
105 ft1.02 g3,196 lbs
2022 Hyundai Elantra N (DCT)2/28/225.4 sec13.8 sec
@ 101.9 mph
110 ft0.98 g3,300 lbs
2019 Hyundai Veloster N (manual)4/8/196.0 sec14.3 sec
@ 98.0 mph
109 ft0.96 g3,086 lbs
2021 Hyundai Veloster N (DCT)5/10/215.4 sec13.7 sec
@ 100.6 mph
108 ft1.04 g3,173 lbs
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI (manual)2/28/226.5 sec14.6 sec
@ 99.1 mph
108 ft0.96 g3,192 lbs
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI (Euro-spec w/DCT)5/10/215.9 sec14.0 sec
@ 101.9 mph
103 ft1.02 g3,181 lbs
2022 Subaru WRX1/31/226.0 sec14.1 sec
@ 97.7 mph
110 ft0.98 g3,400 lbs
2020 Honda Civic Type R6/22/205.7 sec13.8 sec
@ 103.6 mph
107 ft1.03 g3,107 lbs
2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line8/30/217.0 sec15.2 sec
@ 93.6 mph
125 ft0.90 g3,034 lbs
2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

The manual transmission car was quick but a bit finicky to launch, per our test driver: "The car wants to spin the front tires no matter what, so if you leave ESC on you just seem to bog down. The quickest run was done using launch control. ... It could be a bit finicky, but it was simple to use. … There's a bit of torque steer, but nothing unmanageable. You'll chirp the tires on the 1-2 shift every time. There's a little lag down low, but it's minimal. Mid- and high-range power is excellent. Lots of good noises, too."

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

The automatic was even better. "The DCT was a full second quicker to 60 than the manual-transmission Elantra N. The gap stayed about the same through the quarter mile, though the DCT was traveling a few mph faster than the manual. ... Like the manual, the quickest run was done using launch control. Also like the manual, 2,500 rpm seemed to be the real sweet spot between wheelspin and bogging. Any higher and the front tires light up; any lower and the car just bogs a bit. Shifts are quick, and the gearing is a bit shorter than the manual given it has eight and not six forward gears."

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

How does the Elantra N handle?

In addition to all that power, upgrades from the N division include 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer performance tires, 14.2-inch front and 12.4-inch rear brake rotors, a limited-slip differential, and additional chassis support in the form of cross braces and new strut rings. Just take a look above at those braking and skidpad figures. They're among the best we've ever seen from a front-wheel-drive car. Check out how much better the Elantra N performed than the Elantra N Line, too. That car uses a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four in addition to more compliant suspension, smaller brakes and all-season tires — so if you've been wondering how different the N is from the N Line, the answer is "very."

The Elantra N kills when the road gets curvy. Notes from our test track were glowing. "I'm not exaggerating when I say the Elantra N has better steering than some much faster and more expensive sports cars (looking at you, BMW). There's feedback through the wheel, so you have a lot of confidence in the front end. The steering is heavy in Sport Plus/N mode, but it feels right for the car. ... Being front-wheel-drive, the Elantra N tends to push at the limit, but the steering is so talkative that you can find the limit and correct with small throttle inputs. Roll is mild, and the seats do a good job of keeping your [behind] planted. Tons of grip, especially for a front-wheel-drive car. I really, really dig this thing. Maybe not as sharp as the Civic Type R, but it doesn't get much better when it comes to FWD handling."

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

Hyundai has been building toward this for years. Back in 2014, the automaker hired an engineer named Albert Biermann to lead its research and development division. Biermann had spent decades with BMW and had a part in designing some of the best cars from the German automaker's M performance division, including the E46 M3 and E39 M5. Yes, the Elantra N is front-wheel-drive and uses turbocharged power, but it has elements of what made the best M division cars so good. It's engaging and nimble and sporty, but it doesn't punish you with a stiff ride.

It's relatively affordable, too, given the car's performance. A base Elantra N starts around $33,000, and opting for the dual-clutch adds another $1,500. The car comes well equipped from the get-go, so options are limited to paint and a few accessories. It's a little more expensive than the Golf GTI or WRX, but the Elantra N is faster and offers more standard equipment than either the Volkswagen or the Subaru.

Edmunds says

Affordable performance without sacrificing comfort or traditional sedan utility? Sign us up. The Elantra N is the real deal.