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Make Everyday Life Exciting : Elantra N

Looking into the utility and comfort of a four-door semi-midsize sedan, and the thrilling driving fun of the N brand, the Elantra N is similar to a talented entertainer.
The Elantra N is the car that brings complete pleasure to the driver.

Looking into the utility and comfort of a four-door semi-midsize sedan, and the thrilling driving fun of the N brand, the Elantra N is similar to a talented entertainer. The Elantra N is the car that brings complete pleasure to the driver.

Many car enthusiasts are crazy about the Elantra N. This is probably because of the flexible nature of the Elantra N. As is well known, the Elantra N is the only sedan among the N models. Compared to the high-performance models in the same class that dominate the global market, it is not easy to find a sedan like the Elantra N. In addition, the Elantra N was able to ideally realize the values ​​people expect from the Elantra N - thanks to the spacious and comfortable interior space, low center of gravity, and agile driving performance based on Hyundai Motor Group's 3rd-generation platform.

Unless it's an expensive premium model, it's not easy to have all the features of a comfortable daily car and a high-performance model. If you focus on one quality, you lose the balance. However, the Elantra N is a superb blend of these two opposing traits. This model is indeed the result of combining the practicality of a four-door semi-midsize sedan with the exhilarating pleasure of a high-performance brand.

Elantra N gives pleasure in appearance first. The Elantra is one of the most common cars on the road in Korea, and this time it got a lot of attention for its bold style. The Elantra N catches the eye by confidently revealing the power of a high-performance model based on its current design.

The black panel on the front connected to the radiator grille and the active red strip at the bottom of the body show the unique design of the Elantra N and have a visual effect that helps the body look lower and wider. A wing-type spoiler and a large dual muffler are also elements that symbolize the strength of the high-performance model. The test car was painted in performance blue, representing the N brand, giving it a more colorful and fun-spirited feeling.

Carrying over the excellence of the base model, Elantra N boasts the most spacious rear seat roominess among its competitors. Also, the N light bucket seat and lowered seating position by 10mm gives the impression that you are riding in a more ‘sporty’ car. I think this allows more head room when wearing a helmet during track driving. Not only that, but the dynamic atmosphere of the N brand is evident throughout the interior - like the Alcantara suede on the seats and door trims and the N logo engraved on the steering wheel and gear levers. The most striking and functional part is probably the N1/N2 and NGS buttons on the steering wheel, as well as the digital instrument cluster that boasts gorgeous graphics.

In fact, there were a few things I was personally curious about the Elantra N - the magnitude of the change depending on the driving mode, the potential of driving performance, and the comfort in everyday driving. This is because I secretly have the desire to own the Elantra N instead of my current Elantra manual. In order to do that, I would have to convince my wife that this is a family car. At this time of life, I have to choose a car that suits my family, not just myself.

One of the reasons I was curious about the driving performance was because of the comments left by auto magazines in the U.S. during the Elantra N test drive last year. Not only the world-renowned auto magazines such as MotorTrend, Car and Drive, Road and Track but also new auto magazines such as Motor1 and Autoguide participated in the test drive.

At the test drive, U.S. media rated Elantra N’s overall driving performance as excellent. For example, <Motor Trend> states, “On the street or at the track, the 8-speed N DCT is always pulling the right gear at the right time”, and for the brake, “the result is that the Elantra N's brakes grab immediately on application and the strong, consistent pedal offers good feedback that's easily modulated even on a track.” In addition, <Car&Driver> said, "Hyundai makes a point to emphasize entertainment over outright performance with its current N lineup, and it shows. The addition of a better-riding and more spacious sedan variant makes that fun factor even easier to enjoy." The comment left by <Motor 1> was also strong: " Elantra N offers nearly as much finesse as it does fun, involving the driver in the speed."

After seeing these comments, my curiosity about Elantra N deepened. So, I headed to a quiet winding road where I could enjoy the dynamic performance of the Elantra N. I was curious about the performance on the track, too, but I thought that it would be better to travel on national roads, highways, and hills as I do a lot of daily driving.

While heading to my destination on the highway from Seoul, I had the chance to experience the roominess as well as the ride comfort of Elantra N. With the driving mode set to Eco or Normal; it was as comfortable as any other sedan with a solid yet flexible underbody setting. This is thanks to factors such as a lower center of gravity, tighter body stiffness, dual compound insulators on the front suspension mounts, and an electronic suspension that adjusts the damping force depending on the driving mode.

One of the interesting things about the latest N models is that you can quickly switch to a preset driving mode by pressing the N1/N2 button on the steering wheel. For example, you can press the N1 button on the left to set the custom mode that best suits your taste, and then press the N2 button on the right to switch to the most dynamic N mode. Custom mode allows you to set engine, steering wheel weight, suspension, transmission, e-LSD (electronic-Limited Slip Differential), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), exhaust sound, etc., to suit your taste. N mode changes all settings to work like a sports car. I preferred the 'medium' steering wheel weight, the 'normal' suspension, and the most extreme for the rest.

Models housed with an 8-speed N DCT transmission also have a function that instantly draws out all the power of the Elantra N regardless of the selected driving mode. It's called N Grin Shift (NGS). When you press the active red NGS button in the lower right corner of the steering wheel, the engine producing up to 280 horsepower develops an additional 10 hp for 20 seconds, and the 8-speed N DCT transmission instantly shifts from the current speed to the lowest gear. This is to optimize the powertrain for fast acceleration. For example, if you are driving at 100 km/h in normal mode and press NGS, it will lower the gear to 4th and raise the engine speed to 5,500 rpm to prepare for acceleration. It is one of the features that U.S. auto journalists have mentioned the most.

It is widely known that the N model provides pleasure with 'sound'. The driving sound of the Elantra N can be largely divided into the exhaust sound (After-burn sound, pop and bang sound) that can be heard from outside the car and the virtual sound of the N sound equalizer that can be heard from inside the vehicle. In N or custom mode (Sport+ setting for Engine and Exhaust Sound), when the engine exceeds a certain number of revolutions, a pop sound will be produced when you take your foot off the accelerator pedal. When driving fiercely beyond a sports mode such as N or custom mode, you can hear a bang sound every time you raise the gear. These are all factors that maximize the fun of driving.

The N Sound Equalizer identifies various driving information and delivers a pleasant driving sound through the indoor speaker - just like the dynamic engine sound of TCR (Touring Car Race) that Hyundai Motor Company is currently participating in. It makes you forget to listen to music through audio while enjoying the analog-like exhaust sound and digital-sensing N sound equalizer. <Car and Driver> must have thought the same, because it reads: "The real entertainment comes in surges as you wind the engine to redline and fill the cabin with sound, from the brap of the exhaust to its augmentation through the stereo speakers."

I was finally on the winding road. Elantra N must have warmed up enough by then. As I pressed the N2 button to switch to N mode and pressed the accelerator pedal deeply, the engine revs surged, and the cool exhaust sound echoed. The nature of Elantra N, which had been hidden until now, has been awakened.

As I passed through the repeated hairpin corners, I was able to taste the true essence of Elantra N a little bit. As the N brand was aiming, the Elantra N was a high-performance car that made cornering fun. It was indeed a 'fun car,' considering the agility of turning the head exactly as the driver intended, the sharpness of going through steep corners without shaking, the lightning-fast shifting of the 8-speed N DCT, and the robust braking power that instantly lowers the speed right before cornering.

Other than the effects of the 3rd generation platform mentioned above, there are several keys to the excellent handling performance of Elantra N - such as e-LSD that delivers the force to the outer front wheel when cornering, dual compound insulators for both ride comfort and handling performance, reinforcements installed in seven areas in the lower body to improve rigidity, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires that provide traction. Of course, the effect of the Integrated Drive Axle (IDA), inspired by the World Rally Championship (WRC) race car, is also impressive. This technology integrates the axle and wheel hub bearings into one, which not only reduces the weight by 1.7 kg but also increases the lateral rigidity by integrating the parts, which greatly helps to improve handling performance.

One of the things that U.S. auto magazines rated highly was the cornering performance of the Elantra N. As <Motortrend> mentions, "The diff is so good in fact that you can effectively stand on the throttle as soon as you clip the apex and let it sort out the car's proper orientation. In an off-camber corner, you'll push wide a little, but it's entirely predictable and you can bring it back in with a slight lift if so desired". <Road and Track> also left an impressive comment: "It's a shockingly easy car to get up to speed. Before the Elantra N media event, I'd never been to Sonoma Raceway, but after just a few laps, I felt comfortable pushing through faster corners, knowing that the differential was working and the front end was communicating what the car needed to go quickly."

Having fallen in love with Elantra N's dynamic charm, I don't know how many times I went up and down the hill. Even when the accelerator pedal was floored in the middle of a corner, the Elantra N did not show any signs of struggle, but rather encouraged the driver to enjoy an exhilarating driving experience. While driving with Elantra N, I was able to feel what the N brand was aiming for: the power to make your everyday life exciting. This is probably the true power of the N brand and Elantra N.

  • Written by Se-Hwan Lee
  • Video by Do-Yeon Nam, Hyeon-Gyun Lee, Jae-Won Lee, Han-Gyeol Kim
  • Photography by Dae-Il Choi, Beom-Seok Kim