2022 Hyundai Elantra N DCT Track Review: FWD Firecracker
2022 Hyundai Elantra N DCT racetrack and autocross review highlights:
- The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is the cheapest N model and comes with a plethora of performance upgrades over the standard Elantra
- With its loud exhaust, whip-crack DCT, excellent chassis and suspension tuning, and a powerful engine, the Elantra N is a compact terror on a track
- It’s the most expensive Elantra, but it offers more performance and fun than its immediate VW and Honda rivals
Silence, please, for the Hyundai Veloster N is truly dead. However, the first N car is leaving some stunning successors behind. For the crossover-inclined, there’s the Kona N, which is basically a hot hatch with extra ride height. Yet I’d argue there’s another car that inherits slightly more of the Veloster N’s incongruously manic, exhilarating energy. After driving it around Road America and its autocross course, I’d say that car is the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N.
The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is a compact sedan tricked out for the Nürburgring
|2022 Hyundai Elantra N DCT
|2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
|Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
|0-60 mph time
$34,445 (as tested)
Hyundai holds two racetracks in high regard. The first is its test circuit in Namyang, South Korea, where it established its performance division. The second is the Nürburgring, where it tests its performance cars. Hence why all the hottest Hyundai cars, including the spiciest 2022 Elantra, bear the big ‘N’. And if that sounds similar to BMW’s M division, well, the former N boss did work there once.
Speaking of BMW, Hyundai also has an M Performance analog in the N Line. The Elantra N Line is decently sporty, but the full-on N variant’s upgrades put it in another performance league.
What’s the difference between the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N and the Elantra N Line?
Like the less powerful N Line, the 2022 Elantra N comes standard with a six-speed manual. However, instead of an optional seven-speed DCT, the N has an optional wet-clutch eight-speed DCT. Besides a faster 0-60 time, the Elantra N DCT also gets launch control and N Grin Shift (NGS), a button-activated overboost function that briefly adds 10 more horsepower. And this high-power engine shouts through an active performance exhaust.
But that’s just the tip of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N performance iceberg. Firstly, like the N Line, the Elantra N has independent rear suspension. But it pairs that with a front strut-tower brace, rear chassis brace, stiffer rear sway bar, and active shocks. Furthermore, Hyundai made the front axle stiffer, stronger, and lighter using expertise gained during rallying.
In addition, the 2022 Elantra N has an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, larger brakes with extra cooling ducts and upgraded pads, and standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tires. It also has a rear spoiler, thick-rimmed sports steering wheel, well-bolstered sports seats with light-up ‘N’ emblems, and sport pedals. Plus, you can adjust the steering, engine response, exhaust, stability control, differential, and launch-control rpm through the 10.25” touchscreen.
Or just do what I did and push one of the big blue steering wheel switches.
This compact sports sedan crackles with an oversized attitude and speed
Personality often matters as much as performance in the sports car world, no matter the budget. The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N has plenty of the latter. Even without NGS, it flies past the Accord Sport 2.0T, not to mention the Civic Si, Jetta GLI, and GTI. And with NGS, the Elantra N DCT matches the Civic Type R’s ¼-mile time, MotorTrend says. But as I discovered on the main Road America track and its temporary autocross course, it also has more than enough of the former.
Remember those blue switches I just mentioned? They activate N Mode, which puts the engine, transmission, shocks, differential, and safety aids in their sportiest settings. It also makes the steering hilariously heavy. I mean, this is an Elantra, for crying out loud, how is the steering this heavy? For that matter, why does the exhaust sound like a 1980s rally car meets cannon fire? And why can’t I stop giggling, I haven’t even started driving?
Driving the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N DCT doesn’t stop the giggles: it just makes them stronger. Its steering doesn’t offer much more feedback than the Mini Cooper S, but it’s far more precise and sharper. In addition, not only are the brakes ridiculously strong, but they also help you rotate the Elantra N through the corners, as does judiciously lifting off the throttle. Plus, turn-in is sharp and there’s no body roll. Also, in N Mode, the DCT’s shifts are immediate whether you or the computer is shifting. And the four-cylinder engine pulls hard everywhere.
Admittedly, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is a bit nose-heavy, and an overzealous newbie can induce slight understeer (I didn’t hit any cones, though). But the seats hold you tight no matter how hard you push the car. And even though it’s pushing almost 300 hp through the front tires, the 2022 Elantra N doesn’t have torque steer. Nor did it ever spin or lose grip when I was lapping Road America in the rain.
This is one simply N-joyable little sports sedan.
Is the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N worth buying?
With the Veloster N officially dead after this year, the 2022 Elantra N is now the cheapest Hyundai N model. That still makes it the most expensive Elantra model, though, even if you get it with the stick. But it does come with a full ADAS suite in addition to all the performance features.
However, it’s worth noting that a mid-level 2022 GTI, which has 35 less horsepower, costs slightly more than an Elantra N DCT. And while the Jetta GLI is slightly cheaper than the Elantra N, it has the same horsepower deficit. Plus, it’s less fun to drive. Furthermore, while the next-gen Civic Type R will likely be more powerful, it will also undoubtedly cost more than the Elantra N. And the Civic Si isn’t as fast or as sharp as the Hyundai.
Admittedly, the Kona N is only slightly more expensive than the Elantra N. So, if practicality and a taller ride height matter more to you, it’s arguably the better value. But if you want something that captures the Veloster N’s brand of zany yet sharp performance, this is the N-sane compact you want.
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