After a lengthy gestation period, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N finally made its North American debut. The new Elantra N is the first N sedan from Hyundai, and it’s also the first Elantra to wear the N badge. The Elantra N is also dipping in shark-infested waters dominated by the legendary Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R.
Hyundai is a relative newcomer in this particular automotive segment, as the brand is best known for offering value-packed cars with lengthy warranties. However, Hyundai wants the N brand to reach the upper echelons of the performance realm. Hyundai’s first sports car was a good one (if anybody still remembers the Genesis Coupe?), while its first N car, the i30 N, was not a bad car either.
Hyundai’s N car started making waves in America with the Veloster N in 2019, the first N vehicle sold in the United States. And by 2020, the Veloster N gained a new eight-speed wet dual-clutch gearbox, a car that my colleague Tony Borroz refers to as a “corner rascal.” But as the eight-gen Hyundai Elantra debuted in 2020, rumors were swirling of a high-performance Elantra N in the pipeline.
Hyundai also has the Elantra N Line, a higher-performance version of a standard Elantra sedan equipped with a 201-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. However, Elantra N is the crème of the crop. “Elantra N is our purest expression of our mission to date,” said Till Wartenberg, Vice President and Head of the N Brand Management & Motorsport sub-division at Hyundai Motor Company.
2022 Hyundai Elantra N: Built For Fun
Hyundai can say all it wants on how the Elantra N has over 40 specialized elements versus a regular Elantra sedan. Still, the most significant talking point in a performance car is the engine, and the Elantra N is packing some heat under the hood. It has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection, a larger 52 mm turbine wheel, and an optimized cylinder block. All told, the mill is pumping out 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft. of torque, the latter arriving from 2,100 to 4,700 rpm.
And yes, the latest Hyundai Elantra N has a standard six-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox with rev-matching downshifts. It also has a front-axle limited-slip differential to keep it nice and tidy around the bends. Manual purists rejoice! If there’s any indication that Hyundai is serious in its intent to attract enthusiasts, this is it.
How Fast Is The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N?
Seriously quick. The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N may not have as much power as a Honda Civic Type R or VW Golf R, two of the most potent front-wheel drive cars on the market today. But when equipped with Hyundai’s optional eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission inherited from Veloster N, the Elantra N can scoot like nobody’s business. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. At the same time, the gearbox’s N Grin Shift mode can further boost the turbocharger, coaxing the engine to pump out 286 horsepower momentarily, allowing you to zoom towards the horizon like there’s no tomorrow.
The Hyundai Elantra N is not as quick as a traditional sports car, but it’s just as fast as the Honda Civic Type R, a stellar achievement given the Type R has no less than 306 horsepower from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger. It also has a top speed of 155 mph, good enough to earn bragging rights on the German Autobahn. All of this is made possible via custom 19-inch wheels wrapped in 245-width Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the first N car to wear the best high-performance tire in the business.
N Track Sense Shift
The manual is excellent and all, but there’s no denying the eight-speed wet DCT allows Elantra N to achieve faster lap times. Besides the uber-cool N Grin Shift mode, an automatic-equipped Elantra N comes standard with N Track Sense Shift and N Power Shift like Veloster N. The former uses electrons to apply optimal shift timing as you run around a racetrack. Meanwhile, the latter maximizes engine torque during upshifts to make the car feel more eager.
Ingenious Go-Fast Components
For the first time on an N model, Elantra N has an integrated drive axle that combines the drive shaft, wheel hub, and wheel bearings in a single component. Inspired by rally racing, the Elantra N’s new driveline is 3.81 lbs. lighter and is more robust than the standard configuration.
The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N has dual-compound insulators in the front suspension and dual-compound trailing-arm bushings to improve NVH without penalizing handling and ride comfort. It also has rack-mounted power steering with torque feedback to offer a more consistent steering feel. In addition, the intake duct and air cleaner are a single unit to sharpen the car’s throttle response while also reducing weight.
There’s more. It also has launch control and a variable exhaust system. Hyundai added an N Sound Equalizer feature that emits virtual engine noise to the speakers, a potent cure to any midlife crisis. The system even has an equalizer function that allows precise adjustments of the exhaust’s whine, throat, and bass; good news for your OCD.
Racing Helmet Face (Or Is It?)
According to Hyundai, the 2022 Elantra N’s fascia resembles a driver’s racing helmet. However, it looks like it’s wearing a black face mask, trendy given the COVID situation. It does have a collection of aero appendages like a lip spoiler, a custom wing spoiler, and a new rear diffuser. It also has a red stripe on the aero bits to tell everyone you’re behind the wheel of the fastest Elantra to date.
Furthermore, the interior has the usual N badging on the shifter, steering wheel, pedals, and scuff plates. N Light Sport seats with illumination are also standard.
2022 Hyundai Elantra N: Pricing & Availability
Hyundai has yet to reveal the pricing and delivery date for its newest Elantra N, but a little bird told us the car might arrive near the end of this year or by early 2022 at the latest. And when it does, expect base prices to start at around $35,000.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.