The 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line is Knocking on the Civic Si's Doorstep
Similar power, similar features, but less money.
The Hyundai Elantra has gone through a few identity changes over the last 3 years. In 2018 it looked a certain way. In 2019 it received a complete refresh on the outside. In 2020, it remained the same – surprisingly. And now in 2021, it looks completely different again. But the 2021 model year marks a new generation for the Elantra along with a sporty N-Line trim.
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𝗘𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗲 - While all other trim levels of the Elantra receive a 2.0L naturally aspirated engine – apart from the hybrid model – the Elantra N-Line receives a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine. It produces 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque (150 kW & 264 Nm). The power figures are on par with other sporty compact cars like the Honda Civic Si. The Elantra N-Line can hit 100 km/h in around 6.5 seconds which is not too bad for a car that tips the scales at 1,370 kg (3,020 lbs). Because it’s a turbocharged engine, the peak torque figure is achieved at a low 1,500 rpms and is sustained to around 4,000 rpms. This makes the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line responsive when you put your foot down on the throttle pedal. Don’t confuse this N-Line for the full N performance model like the Veloster N. Having said that though, an N performance version of the Elantra will be coming to compete against the Civic Type-R.
This mid-range performance model offers quite a bit of fun without being intimidating. It’s also a pretty economical engine with official fuel economy ratings coming in at 6.6 L/100 km (35.6 MPG) on a highway and 8.4 L/100km (28 MPG) in a city. During my time with the car, I averaged 7.0 L/100km (33.6 MPG) and best of all, premium fuel is not a requirement.
𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 - In Canada, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line is only available with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. If you’re reading this in the United States, the 7-speed dual-clutch is optional as the standard transmission is a 6-speed manual. The 7-speed is not the best dual-clutch out there but it does its job fairly well. It is a dry clutch transmission so it’s not meant to take the power and abuse of it’s 8-speed DCT brother in the Sonata N-Line. It does not have launch control and even in Sport mode, it never provided quick off-the-line launches. It would always slip the clutch before letting the engine provide full boost & power.
But when you’re not driving like your pants are on fire, the transmission is smooth off the line and the shifts themselves are quick. In Normal mode, the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters are a bit on the slow side to react but they liven up when in Sport mode.
𝗕𝗿𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 - The Elantra N-Line doesn’t receive larger brake discs compared to the standard Elantra trim levels. The 280 mm front brake discs do a pretty good job of bringing the car to a stop but disc warp may be a problem as I noticed a very faint steering wheel judder under hard brake applications at higher speeds. Automatic emergency braking is standard on the Hyundai Elantra N-Line but is optional on the base Essential trim level of the Elantra.
𝗛𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 - The 2021 Elantra N-Line sits on a new chassis and with an overall weight of 1,370 kg (3,020 lbs), the car feels sporty around twists & turns. It’s not a racetrack all-star like it’s Veloster N cousin; it wasn’t meant to be. It strikes a good balance between driving enjoyment and daily commuting. Just be aware when accelerating hard out of a corner that the inside wheel could spin under the torque of the turbocharged engine – with traction control off of course. With the TC system engaged, wheelspin is limited but you can feel through the steering wheel slight hints that the brakes are being applied to control the torque from the engine. This N-Line Elantra does not have a mechanical limited slip differential. The upcoming 2022 Elantra N will, however.
𝗥𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁 - After a few minutes of driving the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line, you will notice that this car has slightly stiffer suspension than the regular Elantra models. This better controls the body roll and provides the sporty driving experience, however, it’s not overly stiff. You can still comfortably drive over potholes without spilling your Starbucks coffee in the cupholder.
𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝗦𝗽𝗮𝗰𝗲 - Although this is a compact car, this new generation Elantra is quite spacious. Relatively speaking. Compared to the Honda Civic Si and the sedan version of the Toyota Corolla, the Elantra has more headroom across both rows of seating and more rear legroom. Of course sitting behind my own driving position is not something I’d want to do for hours on end but for a quick trip in the city, I’d be Ok with it.
The new Elantra N-Line also boasts the most trunk space when compared to the Civic & Corolla. The Elantra has 402 L (14.2 cu-ft) of cargo capacity whereas the Civic sedan & Corolla sedan have 379 L (13.4 cu-ft) & 371 L (13.1 cu-ft) respectively.
𝗡𝗼𝗶𝘀𝗲, 𝗩𝗶𝗯𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, & 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 - The cabin doesn’t exhibit any squeaks or rattles when driving over rougher roads. On highways, there is a bit of road and wind noise intruding into the cabin. However, the noises are bearable especially if you have the radio turned on. Engine noise though is muted. I would have expected a bit more engine noise, especially at higher rpms. But the Elantra N-Line does not sound particularly sporty.
Odds and Ends
𝗚𝗮𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘁𝘀 - The 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line only has one price, $27,599 CAD ($24,100 USD). For that, it comes equipped with heated seats & heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity, sunroof, automatic climate control, blind spot sensors, forward collision alert with emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane centering, and remote start to name a few.
Surprisingly, it is not the most expensive version of the Elantra as the Ultimate trim of the Elantra is a bit more expensive. All that you get extra with that trim is a 10.25” infotainment touchscreen, a 10.25” driver display, and leather seats. As well as adaptive cruise control; something that this N-Line doesn’t have which is a bit odd. Normally cars come with adaptive cruise control but not lane centering. Or they come equipped with both. However, this Elantra N-Line is the opposite which is very odd.
𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻 - Unlike its bigger Sonata N-Line brother, the Elantra N-Line’s interior is not a blend of grey colours. The seat surface is grey but the dash, the center console, and headliner are black. There are traces of red to add a bit of sportiness and the seats have bigger side bolsters than the regular Elantra.
As for the layout of the controls, everything is where you’d expect it to be and is super simple to use. The Drive Mode button is the only oddity about the interior because it’s on the leftmost side of the dashboard in its own little piece of real estate. I don’t mind the placement, it’s just that the raised button with the red outline reminds me of a pimple. Odd thing to think about but that’s just me.
𝗘𝘅𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻 - As I said at the start of the review, this is the third new exterior design for the Elantra in as many years. But this is the best iteration because it looks fast just standing still. The rear tail lights have a lightbar that joins them and at each end, they remind me of the Thor’s Hammer DRL’s of Volvo vehicles. The side has sharp, angular lines to break up the normally bland sheetmetal of the doors. Finally in the front, the DRL lights have a criss cross pattern on them that is hard to capture on camera but beautiful to look at with the naked eye. They are also split in the middle to follow the line of the hood. The large grille is normally something that I don’t like on Hyundai vehicles – the Sonata is an excellent example – but on the Elantra it works. It also hides the turn signals that are just next to the DRLs.
For $28,000 CAD ($24,100 USD), the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line is almost $3,000 less expensive than the Honda Civic Si… if it were still in production for the 2021 model year. You’re getting a lot of the same features as the Civic Si had as well as similar power figures. Granted, in Canada, the Elantra N-Line is not available with the manual transmission and vice versa, the Civic Si was never available with an automatic. But more likely than not the Elantra N-Line is going to be your only car and for daily commutes, I’d much rather have an automatic over a manual.