CHATHAM, Mass. – Today’s vehicles are virtually all competent, well-engineered machines, but few are designed to be as much fun to drive as the new 2022 Hyundai Elantra N with manual transmission.
In 2021 Hyundai thoroughly redesigned and modernized the Elantra range; in 2022 the Korean auto maker injected the compact four-door sedan with upgraded performance, tighter suspension and aggressive seats — a total of 40 specialized N elements according to the company.
Getting a boost from under the hood
A look at the engine output between the Elantra N Line introduced last year and that of the Elantra N brings into focus the performance qualities of the new model. The Elantra N features a 2-liter, four-cylinder “flat-power” turbocharged engine which produces 276 horsepower and 289 pounds-feet of torque, a major jump from the N Line’s 201 and 195, respectively.
A significant contributor to the fun factor is the close-ratio six-speed manual transmission with Rev Matching. A press of the big, red Rev Matching button on the steering wheel meant I did not have to “blip” the accelerator as I depressed the clutch to shift; the Rev Matching control kept the engine’s speed at a higher level. This, along with the smooth, comfortable clutch action and slick transmission operation, really made manual shifting a blast.
Suspension and brakes receive the N treatment
Keeping the zippy fun under control fell to the reengineered suspension and braking pieces. ELANTRA N’s handling performance is enhanced by the N Corner Carving Differential (e-LSD), Variable Exhaust Valve System and Launch Control—all of which are specialized, high-performance standard features.
Additionally, the car features an integrated drive axle, inspired, according to Hyundai, by technology developed for the company’s World Championship Rally cars. Integrating drive shaft, wheel hub and bearing — a weight reduction of 3.81 pounds — enables a lighter and stronger driveline which also benefits performance during extreme lateral g-forces.
The suspension pieces – MacPherson-type struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar up front and multi-link independent, coil springs and stabilizer bar in the rear – are electronically controlled for even more functional precision.
Stopping power is provided by a high-performance braking system. The 14.2-inch ventilated rotors up front, 12.4-inches rear, are paired with high-friction pads to ensure best-in-class braking performance. Furthermore, an additional cooling aperture in the half-cut brake dust covers, combined with braking air guides, provides improved cooling efficiency.
These features mean consistent braking force can be maintained even in harsh driving conditions.
Four-channel, four-wheel anti-lock (ABS), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution complete the major components of the system.
Completing the chassis package are 19×8-inch alloy wheels wearing 245/35R19 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S Summer Tires, performance rubber matched to all the other pieces.
The sum of the parts equals a small sedan which is a gas to power through tight hilly curves and the back roads of Cape Cod. There was always plenty of power from the engine, while the suspension and brakes added to a reassuring feeling from the front seat.
Adding to the sense of well being is a comprehensive advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) suite which includes forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection; blind-spot collision-avoidance assist with rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist and parking-distance warning with reverse and parking collision-avoidance assist.
An interior filled with convenience features and technology
The Elantra N interior provides a comfortable environment whether carving up local roads or hunkering down for a highway trip.
The grippy heated sport seats with integrated head restraints keep front-seat occupants firmly in place and are adjustable for height as well as fore and aft (as is the steering wheel). The climate-control system is automatic with dual zones.
Dominating the dash is a 10.25-inch color touch screen, the heart of the standard infotainment system with navigation. AM/FM/SiriusXM/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/streaming Bluetooth provide infotainment sources which project through the Bose premium audio system with eight speakers, subwoofer and center channel.
Wireless connectivity and two USB ports provide mobile-device charging.
Value both in price and fuel usage
As a car which begs to be driven aggressively – and I did – the Elantra N returned solid fuel-economy numbers. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the manual-transmission equipped Elantra N at 22 miles per gallon in urban driving, 31 on the highway and 25 overall. My results for the week behind the wheel was 31.3 mpg, a number which both surprised and delighted me, especially as gas prices rose to the $5-per-gallon level.
Further adding to the value proposition was the price of this fun machine. The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N, a performance car for today, had a base price, which included all the features described above (there are no options; the dual-clutch automatic-transmission version comes in at $33,600) of $31,900 and, thanks to the $1,045 inland freight & handling fee, a total price of $32,945.
A lot of car, a lot of entertainment in a tight, compact package, the Hyundai Elantra N provided miles of fun blasting around Cape Cod.