Updated: Jan 25


So You need a car that is practical, but you want something that is fun and offers some degree of sports car appeal. Well you may have found your car in the Hyundai Elantra "N" Line.

This is a car that competes directly with cars like the Honda Civic Si, and the Volkswagen Jetta GLi. It sits in that class of sporty little sedans and hatch backs, that have been hot-rodded with turbochargers, and tuned suspensions. The upgrades inject a new level of performance into cars that are otherwise "practical".

In the case of the Hyundai Elantra "N" Line, we have a vehicle that begins with a high quality superstructure, that is stiff to begin with. The fit and finish is very good, as is the overall build quality.

The Hundai Elantra "N" Line is powered by a1.6-litre turbocharge four cylinder engine. The engine produces 201 horsepower and 195-lb-ft of torque. In terms of horsepower , it's right in the same zone as its competitors, but it isn't as fast. It should be when you look at the specification, but it just isn't as quick. After spending a week driving the Elantra "N" Line I would say it is the seven speed dual clutch transmission that comes up just a bit short on the performance side because it just doesn't seem to shift in a way that is peformance focused. The transmission I think is set up more for economy than performance even when selecting driving modes that are supposed to be performance focused. There is also a touch of turbo lag. All that being said the Elantra "N" Line isn't a bad car at all. In fact it's a very good car. It just isn't as "punchy" or as performance centric as the Civic Si, and some other leaders in the market segment.

You get a nicely crafted interior with the Elantra "N" Line. You are of course in the afforable and practical car zone here, so there is ample use of plastic everywhere, but that is true of every car, from every company in this segment. The sport seats are very nice though. The colour accented stitching sets them off nicely and the "N" Line logo on the seats is a nice touch that gives the car a "sporty" look and feel. The sport seats are very supportive and comfortable and even though they are "performance" oriented the seats are easy to get into, and out of which is important for anyone who is going to daily drive this car. Often performance or sport seats are designed to grip the driver and passenger and keep you in place during hard cornering, but seats like that are usually difficult to live with if you are using the car as a daily vehicle because entry and exit can be difficult when the sides of the seat sit up high, or protrude in a way that blocks you when you climb into the car. Bottom line the seats are pretty nice.

If you are looking for a "peformance" experience you will really need to use the paddle shifters. The automatic transmission I found just didn't kick down and deliver the high reving performance some people might be looking for, even when in "Sport Mode". Again, this point on performance is not meant to be too critical. It's just the way the car is set up, and as a daily driver, or a family car, it's really meant to deliver a little extra punch, not serve as a full blown performance car. You can also use those paddle shifters to manually make the car shift the way you want it to, so if fun is what you want, you can still find it through manual shifting.

The Elantra "N" Line comes with a multi-link independent rear suspension. It does handle quite well. The ride is a little softer than the Jetta GLi, and the Civic Si, but it still carves through corners with ease and the feedback from the road to the steering wheel is pretty good. The N Line has an independent rear suspension unlike the base model, as well as bigger brakes, firmer dampers, stiffer anti-roll bars, and stiffer springs.

With the Elantra "N" Line you are looking at a 0-60mph ( 0-100KMH) of about 8.5 seconds. So you won't set the world on fire with this car, but it's still fun to drive. Fuel economy is rated at 8.6 L/100 km in the city and 6.6 on the highway, 7.6 combined. We recorded fuel economy of about 32 mpg highway, and 29 mpg city.

Standard safety features include lane keep assist, cruise control, and front crash avoidance. The brakes are very good. There is good pedal feel and for me that's a big plus, because a car that handles well and stops well, is more important than a car with a lot of power that goes fast.

With the Elantra "N" you are getting something just a bit unique in terms of styling. The front grille is aggressive and distinctly "Hyundai". The car has very nice lines, and if you look at the hard edged lines that accent the side of the car they form a nice "Z" or maybe a sideways "N" and those lines lead the eye down the side of the vehicle. It's a nice looking car. I never expected the car would turn heads, but it did. I had several people stop to talk to me about the car and ask questions, so even though this is a car that is aimed at "practical" consumers there is real interest in it out there among the general public. People liked it. I just never expected a car like this would generate the kind of attention it got.