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If you’re looking for a sporty compact sedan, then there are only a few to choose from. The all-new 2022 Honda Civic Si will be out soon and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is a solid choice, but if you want more bang for your buck, then the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line can give you what you need.

What is the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line?

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line shown in blue
2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line | Hyundai

The N Line is one of the four available trim levels for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra and it adds a dash of sportiness to the commuter compact. Instead of the standard 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can be found under the hood of the other trim levels, the Elantra N Line comes with a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. That powerful mill can be connected to either a 7-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual transmission that sends the power to the front wheels.

In addition to the turbocharged engine, the Elantra N Line ups the ante on the standard trims by adding springs that are 26% stiffer upfront and 71% stiffer in the rear. Additionally, there are stiffer engine mounts, a rear stabilizer bar, and a multi-link rear suspension that allows the car to rotate more in the turns and stay compliant when driven hard. I spent some time with the 2021 Elantra N Line and I can say that it definitely rotates around corners and more.

The Elantra N Line is more fun than you would expect

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line  engine
2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line | Hyundai

Let’s face it, Hyundai hasn’t always been known for pumping out the sportiest cars. Sure, there was the Genesis Coupe, but that car felt overly stiff, its steering was vague, and its available engines could have been more responsive. But now, there’s the Hyundai Elantra N which, from what I hear, is a strong competitor to the Civic Type R. So it’s safe to say that the South Korean brand has far improved from what it once was when it comes to making “sporty” compacts.

That’s probably why I didn’t have any expectations when jumping in the Elantra N Line. I figured it would be better than the Genesis Coupe and not as hardcore as the Elantra N, but I also didn’t think it would be that fun to drive. Fortunately, I was wrong. My tester came with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT)and although I prefer to row my own gears, the DCT shifts quicker than I ever could and it’s pretty smooth to boot.

Now, onto the engine. It lags a little when you start from a dead stop and that lag carries on partially through the rev range when you floor it. But as the RPMs climb, so does the boost from the turbocharger and you’re met with a small wave of power all the way to redline. It won’t push you back in your seat, but it’s enough for your passengers to say, “Hey, this thing has some guts!” – as mine did.

For a compact performer, the Elantra N Line provides some serious value

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line  rear
2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line | Hyundai

According to Car and Driver’s testing, the 2021 Elantra N Line is able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and it can complete a quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds. That’s pretty quick for a compact streetcar and quick enough for 95% of the drivers on the road. But what’s even better is that this iteration of the Elantra only costs $25,095, which is cheaper than the Volkswagen Jetta GLI and on par with what the Civic Si will be priced at.

If you’re looking for cheap thrills in your compact commuter sedan, you owe it to yourself to check out the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line. You may just be thoroughly impressed and surprised, just I was.


Does the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Have a Manual Transmission?