2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line review: Surprisingly sporty

The Sonata N Line is more than a pretty face.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

Some cars surprise the hell out of you, and nothing in recent memory has taken me by surprise quite like the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line. What I thought would be a nice midsize sedan with a little more power is actually a car. properly sporty.

Like it

  • Excellent powertrain and chassis
  • Super fun to drive
  • Great style and technology

I do not like

  • A little bit of steering torque
  • Around the city

Very fast, a word on the letter N. The Sonata N Line is not a full N, like the Veloster N or imminent Elantra N is Kona N. Instead, think of this as N-lite, just like the Elantra N Line and the new Kona N Line is Tucson N Line. Done? Good.

A trained eye will quickly spot the differences between the Sonata N Line and its more subdued counterparts, even if the changes are decidedly subtle. There’s a new front grille with larger air intakes and the Sonata’s cool daytime running lights remain intact. At the rear, the N line has four tailpipes and a redesigned bumper and diffuser. The new wheels complement the changes, and overall, while these updates aren’t major, the N line looks as good as any other new Sonata.

The big upgrades start under the hood, where the Sonata N Line gets a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine, the same one you’ll find in the Genesis G80 is GV80, as well as the Kia K5 GT is Refreshed stinger. Here, it’s tuned to deliver 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Power passes to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which you’ll also find on the Veloster N and Elantra N.

The Sonata breaks the line; will do a front-wheel drive burnout without even trying. But as strong and powerful as the engine, the sedan’s chassis is the real star of the show. The N line dives into corners, and while the suspension keeps the Sonata taut and planted in the corners, it’s not so stiff as to result in a choppy ride on broken pavement.

N-line specific 19-inch wheels are fantastic.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

The steering is direct and communicative, and it’s also nice and heavy, which definitely adds to the overall engagement. Yes, there’s a lot of steering torque due to the front-wheel drive layout, but it’s easily manageable and honestly just makes me laugh.

In Sport Plus mode, the dual-clutch transmission will downshift under braking, although you don’t necessarily need this aggressive shifting scheme with how much torque is available. Plus, Sport Plus automatically disables traction control, which is odd, especially since there’s no limited-slip differential, meaning there’s a lot of wheel slip when cornering if you’re not careful. Sport mode keeps traction control active and still offers super fast shifting. It is the way to go.

My tester is shod with Hyundai’s optional 245/40 series Continental Premium Contact 6 summer tires, wrapped around 19-inch wheels. The summer tire option adds $ 200 to the Sonata’s bottom line, but that’s money well spent considering the extra grip these tires offer.

Nothing wrong with this cabin.

Drew Phillips

I have to say, though, that as much as the Sonata N Line is on a winding road, it can be a bit tough in the city. He seems skittish and nervous from time to time, and the brakes are gripped. At least the N Line comes standard with plenty of great driver assistance technologies, including Hyundai’s hands-on Highway Assist that centers the car in its lane, navigates around corners, and uses adaptive cruise control to manage braking. and acceleration. It’s not a silky smooth cruiser, but if that’s your priority, get the standard Sonata.

The EPA’s estimated fuel economy figures for the N Line aren’t too meager either: 23 miles per city gallon, 33 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Good luck catching up with them, though. Drive the Sonata N Line with gusto and you will regularly see numbers in the 1920s.

Aside from the N-line specific sports seats, the interior of this Sonata is like everyone else. Sure, there’s some contrasting red stitching and some N badges, but that’s about it. Thankfully, there’s plenty of room out front, the back seat is roomy, and 16 cubic feet of boot space is more than ample.

The N line gets Sonata’s best infotainment technology, with a snappy multimedia system housed on a 10.2-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay is Android Auto standard. My colleagues like this system for its ease of use, but I often find that simple commands require extra touches. For example, I cannot clear my current route directly from the navigation map. I have to dig into the navigation menu to do that. Plus, the icons are small and easy to miss when tapping the screen while driving. But hey, I can hear the sounds of the nature app which includes the ambient noise of a snowy day, a beach, a thunderstorm, a forest and, curiously, an outdoor cafe. So, bonus I guess?

This is a really fun sedan to drive.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

There are no option packs for the Sonata N Line, aside from some prettier paint colors and the aforementioned summer tires. With its Quartz White exterior and better tires, my tester comes out at $ 34,655 including $ 1,005 for destination. Yes, that’s more than $ 10,000 above the starting price of a base Sonata, but this car is still huge value.

Think of it this way: the Sonata N Line competes technically with cars like the Toyota Camry TRD is Honda Accord turbocharged is Mazda6, but it is much better to drive. You are getting a car closer to Acura TLX is BMW 3 Series levels of fun, and those cars cost a lot more. No, the N line isn’t perfect, but it hits way above its weight and has all the great infotainment and safety tech of the standard Sonata, to boot. This Hyundai may not immediately come to mind as a solid sports sedan, but trust me, you should drive one. It might surprise you.