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The Elantra N has plenty of styling touches to set it apart from the regular Elantra, including larger 19 inch wheels.

Hyundai Elantra N named AJAC’s Performance Vehicle of the Year

Dale JohnsonWith some high-performance goodies and a few styling changes, a basic four-door sedan can be transformed into a fast, well-handling, sporty-looking four-door sedan. Examples of these affordable sport sedans include the Honda Civic Si, Mazda 3 Sport GT, Nissan Altima SR Premium, Subaru WRX, Toyota Camry TRD and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI.

Hyundai’s entry in this segment is the Elantra N, named Performance Vehicle of the Year in the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Car of the Year awards, beating out the Subaru BRZ and the Mazda MX-5. The Elantra N was one of three finalists for the Car of the Year award, which was won by the BMW i4.

I recently test-drove a “Fiery Red” Elantra N, which sits on a 2,720 mm (107 in) wheelbase and is 4,675 mm (184 in) long. That’s about all the N shares with the regular Elantra. The N adds a rear spoiler, front and rear bumper black fascia, dual large-bore exhaust outlets, LED headlights and taillights, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The front grill appears wider, thanks to black cladding on each side of the grill. There’s also gloss black trim on the door posts and rear spoiler. All these elements help to make the N more aggressive and powerful-looking than a regular Elantra.

Trim touches on the rear of the Elantra N include black spoiler and dual exhausts.

Trim touches on the rear of the Elantra N include black spoiler and dual exhausts.


Inside, the Elantra N is sporty and well laid out.


Inside are plenty of luxury touches, including heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a power sunroof. And there are plenty of “N” logos throughout – on the door sills, the carpet, the steering wheel, the shift lever and the bucket seats. There’s no question about it: this is the Elantra N.

My tester had plenty of safety features, including blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, driver attention warning, forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, lane following assist, and rear occupant alert.

It feels more sporty than luxurious, with such touches as chrome trim on the pedals and light blue accent stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the transmission shifter cover. The driver position is excellent. The bucket seats, with leather bolsters, wrap right around me and are very comfortable. These would be great on a long road trip, and I can imagine sitting in these seats for hours at a stretch. And the 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system with a Bose AM/FM/HD radio MP3 and XM premium audio system with eight speakers would also help to make this a great road-trip vehicle. The interior is spacious, which can’t be said for all cars in this segment.

An exclusive feature of the N model is electronic control suspension which Hyundai says “automatically and continuously controls the vehicle’s suspension, reducing roll, pitch and vertical motion to enhance ride and handling, and can be adjusted to suit your preference.” Yes, it rides very well.

Visibility is good out the sides but not so good out the back because the rear window slopes steeply.

Convenience and entertainment features are excellent, with the typical Hyundai controls – large, logical and labelled well – making it easy to use the heating, ventilation and sound systems. It’s all very intuitive; there’s no guessing or need to check the manual.

The Elantra N is fast. My test vehicle had a 2.0 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 276 hp. Hyundai says the “Flat Power technology allows a longer duration of maximum power with improved torque and engine power.” I agree. My tester had an eight-speed automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual transmission is available – which would add to the fun of driving this car. As for fuel economy, Natural Resources Canada rates it at 12.1 litres/100 km in the city and 7.9 litres/100 km on the highway.

Prices for the entry-level Elantra, called “Essential,” start at $22,956. The N starts at $32,406 – and the loaded Elantra N I drove had a list price of $38,799. I think that’s good value, considering the excellent handling, powerful engine, comfortable ride and good looks.

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.

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