Hyundai’s commitment to performance vehicles is really starting to become impressive. Despite the brand’s decision to terminate the standard Veloster for 2022, it’ll be retaining the crackling N model in order to appease a small number of fun-loving customers. While not unappealing, the model had some quirks that likely made it less appealing to the average commuter. Packaged as a three-door hatchback prioritizing style over utility, the Veloster made less practical sense than a similarly priced sedan or crossover. We’d wager some would-be owners ultimately settled upon the Elantra or Kona unless they were in the market for the N and the backroad shenanigans it encourages.
But future customers will have an even more difficult choice ahead of them now that the 2022 Elantra N is officially on the docket. Rather than build a performance sedan that simply offers more go than the standard model, the South Korean manufacturer has opted to target the big dogs.
As with the fast-approaching Kona N, The high-performance Elantra will borrow the same 2.0-liter turbo that’s been slotted inside the Veloster N. Hyundai said it would produce 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque in the sedan, which has undergone an aggressive makeover that’s eye-catching but lacks subtlety. The company has stated that these changes are purely functional, with the wing and skirts meaningfully enhancing aerodynamics.
Purists will undoubtedly prefer the six-speed manual. However, optioning the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox does offer an overboost function that can deliver an additional 10 horsepower for 20 seconds. Customers need only press a KERS-style button on the steering wheel to call for the cavalry in what can only be described as a fun gimmick. But it’s just one of several. Like its N-badged siblings, the Elantra also comes with variable exhaust modes — encompassing everything from quiet commuting to the snorting and popping the Veloster N is known for.
Dual-clutch models also come with a launch control feature Hyundai claimed could put down zero-to-62 mph times of 5.3 seconds. At present, the model remains exclusively front-wheel drive with a top speed of 155 mph. Additional improvements include an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, upgraded drive axle, larger brake rotors/pads, and an independent rear suspension (rather than the torsion-beam setup found on the base sedan). Wheels have also been upsized to 19 inches and wrapped in 245/35 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
Beyond the upgraded displays, which prioritize things like fluid temperatures and boost status, that’s all the hardware exclusive to the Elantra N without needing to make special requests. But it’s a fantastic place to start if you were interested in taking on the Honda Civic Type R and everything about the Hyundai seems to suggest that’s the goal here.
That was also the aim of the Veloster N, which has repeatedly proven itself to be just as fun as the meanest Civic Honda could manufacture. But it’s not the faster vehicle on most courses, nor likely to endure the same amount of abuse on a racetrack without starting to show some of its faults. Though that’s of little consequence when its only competition is the segment’s best example and it cost thousands less than the Honda.
Despite Hyundai meandering gently upmarket, it remains a value brand and that modus operandi will undoubtedly carry over onto the Elantra N. Pricing is TBD but we’re anticipating something in the low $30,000 range and for it to be the most fun you can have in a sedan without getting into something larger with more cylinders and/or a higher price tag. We just have to wait a while to test that theory.
Hyundai confirmed it’s coming to the United States and plans to debut the model at the New York Auto Show in August. We should get a better look at what’s on offer for our market (photos are all of the global model) at that time. Deliveries should commence near the end of 2021.