Since its introduction, the Hyundai Sonata has been a fierce competitor in the midsize sedan market. Known for its styling, reliability, and affordable MSRP, the new eighth generation Sonata now more than ever is giving the folks over at Toyota and Honda a valid reason to look over their shoulder.
Once grouped with the Camry, Accord and other pedestrian entry-level midsize sedans, the engineers at Hyundai chose to play it safe and never made the leap into sport sedan territory. Consumers interested in these models usually prioritize practicality and fuel economy over performance, so why alter a recipe already proven to succeed?
Consequently, the Sonata would likely never realize its full potential and offer the performance enthusiasts desire to match its striking looks. Its destiny was to remain a utilitarian family hauler that disregarded excitement in favor of efficiency. That is, until now.
For the Sonata, there will be no more blending in with the masses and the sea of the mundane. No more sneers from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes sport sedan owners who pity you as they drive by. For the first time ever, Hyundai is bringing performance to the forefront with the 2020 Sonata N Line.
A Mockery No More
Following the release of the Veloster N earlier this year, the Sonata N Line will also wear the script of Hyundai’s new performance sub-brand. Like the Veloster, the Sonata N-Line will feature a significant powertrain upgrade, sportier styling, and major chassis improvements.
Currently, the most powerful engine in the 2020 Sonata’s lineup is a lethargic 191-horsepower 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder. That’s 12 less horsepower than a base model Camry, and certainly nothing to write home about. While full specifications have yet to be released, Hyundai confirmed at the New York auto show that the new model will have more than 275 horsepower.
That’s a massive leap, and one that positions the Sonata N-Line as entry-level sport sedan that will compete against models like the Buick Regal GS and Kia Stinger GT we reviewed earlier. According to Car and Driver, the new drivetrain is said to be a turbocharged version of the current 2.5-liter inline-four currently in development.
N Line Performance Credentials
The new Sonata N Line isn’t to be confused with the Veloster N hot hatchback—the first release from Hyundai’s performance subdivision. The N and N Line discrepancy is similar to the difference between a BMW M3 and a BMW M340i equipped with M Sport elements. Neither delivers short on the promise of performance, but one is the benchmark designed to push the boundaries of excitement to new heights.
The confirmed Sonata N-Line is promising, as it leaves room for a full-blown Sonata N in the future if Hyundai so chooses. The N-Line, meanwhile, will likely retain the Sonata’s front-wheel drive configuration and eight-speed automatic transmission. But our hope is that Hyundai pulls a Houdini and makes the six-speed manual in the Veloster N an available option.Autoblog reports the Sonata N Line is expected to go on sale sometime in 2020. The evolution of the Sonata from a mere afterthought in the midsize market to an aspiring sport sedan with performance aspirations is something we have wanted for years. After years in the shadows, we’re excited that Clark Kent is finally entering the phone booth and will exit a changed man.