Fast, faster, fastest. That’s the approach Hyundai is taking with the latest-generation Elantra sedan.
The South Korean carmaker launched two versions of the compact model last year, a standard issue Elantra, as well as the sportier Elantra N Line. It’s now offering a pair of teaser images showing what will be the ultimate version, the Elantra N.
The nomenclature may be confusing but the bump in performance will be significant. A prototype version of the Hyundai Elantra N a select group of journalists got to drive last autumn punched out 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque, a major boost compared with the current N Line’s 201 hp and 195 lb-ft.
“Elantra N is a high-performance sedan that reveals the sportier side of our exceptional all-new Elantra through exciting N brand enhancements,” Till Wartenberg, vice president of N brand Management & Motorsport subdivision, said in a statement.
“We designed it to be a race proven sports car with dynamic driving capabilities and style that performance enthusiasts love. I can’t wait to unveil Elantra N, an outstanding addition to the N brand lineup that offers pulse-pounding performance.”
A “digital world premiere” is planned for this coming summer.
A solid performer
Elantra has been a mainstay for Hyundai since the nameplate was launched in South Korea and several other markets in 1990. It has fared reasonably well despite the ongoing shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs — Hyundai picking up buyers from brands like Ford who have abandoned the sedan and coupe segments.
It also has helped having more variants than ever. Hyundai starting out with a base model powered by a 147 horsepower naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder. There’s also a hybrid version of the sedan and the sportier Elantra N Line.
Hyundai did nothing to hide the fact that an even more extreme model would follow. The question was what it would use to power the new Elantra N. Early speculation centered around a 2.0-liter turbo-4 expected to make around 275 hp. Instead, the performance model will get a 2.5-liter I-4. Final specs are still uncertain. Some company insiders hinted the production model could be rated as high as 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque.
Torque will be directed through the same pair of offerings found on the Elantra N Line: either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. While some competitors have opted for all-wheel drive, the Elantra N will stick with front-wheel drive.
Putting it through its paces
Like the N Line, the N will get a five-link independent rear and the payoff was obvious immediately when TheDetroitBureau.com drove a prototype last year. Up front, it’s a McPherson strut layout. Adaptive dampers will help clamp the performance sedan to the road while also easing up on harshness during more relaxed driving. Other features will include a limited-slip differential and grippy summer tires.
Like the mainstream Elantra, the Elantra N shares Hyundai’s new “Parametric Dynamics” design theme. But the performance model features distinctive, bright red side sills which, the automaker claims, will “not only help boost performance by better channeling airflow, but also create the effect of a lowered chassis.”
The Elantra N also gets an exclusive rear spoiler and “bold” black trim beneath the rear bumper.
Expect to see the Hyundai Elantra N reach U.S. showrooms later this year, likely as a 2022 model.