2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line first drive review: Sharp sedan with performance to match – Roadshow

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The N Line provides distinctive styling touches and a few rad 19-inch wheels.

Drew Phillips

The Hyundai Sonata N Line punches means above its class. It would exist alongside automobiles just like the Honda Accord Sport, Mazda6 Turbo and Toyota Camry TRD, nevertheless it’s bought the facility, poise, type and tech to place premium sedans just like the Acura TLX and BMW 330i on discover.

Earlier than I leap in, there’s one key factor to recollect: This isn’t certainly one of Hyundai’s full-on N fashions just like the Veloster hatch or upcoming Elantra sedan. N Line is extra of a efficiency half-step, but it is sufficient to remodel the Sonata from a pleasant automotive to a pleasant automotive that strikes.

The enjoyable begins beneath the hood, the place the N Line will get Hyundai’s new 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four. This is identical engine you may discover within the Sonata’s kissin’ cousin, the Kia K5 GT, in addition to numerous different merchandise, together with the Genesis G80, GV80 and Kia Stinger. Right here, the two.5T makes 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, and sends that oomph to the entrance wheels by an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

That turbocharged torque is offered from simply 1,650 rpm, so the Sonata has ample get-up-and-go when pulling away from stoplights. The transmission can be more than pleased to downshift and put the engine within the coronary heart of its powerband when requested, and it will maintain a gear by corners. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are customary, so you may select your personal journey. However whereas the DCT itself is fast to shift gears, the transmission is fairly lazy about responding to handbook inputs.

What I like finest about this powertrain is that it by no means feels high-strung. Within the default Regular drive mode, the engine retains its revs low and presents a clean wave of torque, which is nice for driving round city or cruising on the freeway. Toggle the drive mode selector as much as Sport and the throttle response sharpens and the transmission is a little more desirous to downshift, however even right here, it is all cool and picked up.

The two.5-liter engine presents a clean wave of torque — 311 lb-ft, in actual fact.

Drew Phillips

Weirdly, stepping as much as Sport Plus mode robotically turns off the traction management, which I suppose could be advantageous for critical high-performance driving, however like, this can be a Hyundai Sonata. I do not actually advocate ever turning off traction management on public roads, and there isn’t any mid-level ESC Sport setting like on Hyundai’s full-fledged N automobiles. Sport Plus actually looks like overkill.

The N Line has stiffer springs and dampers than the opposite Sonata fashions and it rides on 19-inch wheels. I can undoubtedly see how the suspension tune could be a bit too stiff for some individuals’s tastes day after day. It is taut, sure, however damped appropriately in order to by no means really feel crashy or overly chatty. The steering is noticeably faster, too — Hyundai says the N Line has a ratio of 12.35:1 in comparison with 13.27:1 within the base Sonata. Equally, the steering has stable weight and nice, linear motion, although I would like a contact extra suggestions.

Usually talking, although, the Sonata N Line is de facto entertaining. The tradeoff for a barely stiff metropolis and freeway trip is great dealing with. The weighty steering and agency suspension make the Sonata N Line desirous to blast by California canyons, the low-end torque offering the additional shove essential to shortly exit corners and energy up steep hills. This automotive has a stage of composure that is unmatched within the conventional midsize sedan class. To wit: The day earlier than testing this Sonata N Line, I took a brand new BMW M440i up for a spirited canyon run, and whereas the Bimmer has much more energy, I genuinely want the Sonata’s steering and chassis tuning.

The N Line comes customary with Hyundai’s upgraded 10.2-inch infotainment display.

Drew Phillips

If there’s one sore spot in all this goodness, it is that the N Line’s entrance wheels typically really feel overwhelmed. Lay into the throttle whereas popping out of an uphill nook and you will get some wheel spin, in addition to a little bit of understeer in tighter turns. Hyundai would not provide the Sonata N Line with all-wheel drive, and there isn’t any limited-slip differential, both. I suppose that is the kind of factor that’d be reserved for a correct Sonata N, however that type of hardcore sedan is not within the playing cards.

The Sonata N Line not less than appears to be like the half, with a singular entrance fascia, bigger air intakes, new aspect skirts and extra pronounced exhaust ideas. It is a cohesive look, too — nothing in regards to the N Line bundle seems tacked on. The sporty updo works nicely with the Sonata’s in any other case good-looking physique sculpting.

Inside, the obvious N Line improve is the pair of sport seats. With leather-based trim, material inserts and sculpted seatbacks, these chairs are as comfy as they’re supportive. A number of N badges and a few pink distinction stitching are the one different modifications you may discover, however given the usual Sonata is already an actual deal with to spend time in, that is hardly a criticism.

What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

Drew Phillips

The N Line will get the Sonata’s digital gauge cluster, in addition to its finest infotainment possibility: a 10.2-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bose audio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a bunch of energetic security tech onboard, too, together with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping help and full-speed adaptive cruise management. The one issues you may’t get on the N Line? A 360-degree digital camera and Hyundai’s Distant Good Parking Help (, Smaht Pahk).

All advised, the 2021 Sonata N Line prices $33,295 together with a $995 vacation spot cost, and you’ll add summer season tires for an additional $200. That makes this hotter Sonata costlier than a Honda Accord Sport or Toyota Camry TRD, nevertheless it’s much more rewarding to drive. Like I stated earlier, I might truthfully put it nearer to Acura TLX or BMW 330i ranges of efficiency, and people automobiles are far more costly.

That makes the Hyundai Sonata N Line a hell of a discount, but there’s nothing “discount” about it. It is a great-looking, great-driving sedan with tons of creature comforts, and proof constructive that there is lots to love in regards to the “N Lite” N Line therapy. 

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Steven Ewing