The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N-line is the 4-door fun you crave
SEATTLE — What’s a company to do when it has what is already a great mid-sized sedan on its hands? You slap more power into it and make it sportier. That’s exactly what Hyundai has done with this new, Sonata N-Line.
Named after Hyundai’s Namyang proving ground in South Korea, the N-Line is Hyundai’s sport’s badge. When you see it, you’ll know that any of its cars with that logo, have a sport-tuned suspension, and more power under the hood, among other niceties.
The Sonata 2020 model was not only a head-turner, it completely amped up being a strong competitor for Honda, Toyota, and Mazda. We loved the new design when we first saw it and believe it’s arguably the best looking sedan in its class.
Hyundai has slapped in a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that’s mated with a turbocharger. This configuration pumps out 290 horsepower at 5800 rpm and a formidable 311 lb-ft of torque that kicks in at only 1650 rpm. It’s actually the same engine that’s shared with the Genesis G80 as well as GV80 and KIA K5 GT.
This means that this N-line Sonata has nearly 100 more horsepower (99) and 130 lb-ft of torque than the available non-turbo 2.5-liter and 116 lb-ft more torque than the 1.6-liter turbo.
The EPA gives this car a rating of 23 around town and up to 33 on the highway or 27 combined.
Power delivery comes by way of an eight-speed, dual-clutch, automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
It does a rather good job of jamming between the gears with quick, smooth shifts. Power is only sent to the front wheels as there is no all-wheel-drive option at this point. Something which we feel is a huge mistake. Delivering that much power to the front wheels is rather unmanageable, especially in inclement weather. Of course, better tires would help offset some of this. For those of us who live in areas of lots of rain or snow in the winter, we’d love for Hyundai to offer an all-wheel-drive variant.
Hyundai uses Pirelli P Zero All Season tires, sized at 245/40R-19. Stopping power comes from large 13.6-inch front rotors and 12.8-inch in the back.
The built-in traction control system does help manage things a bit, you’ll still get tire spin from a quick take-off into a corner and from a hard-launch. The built-in launch control will, again, help mitigate things but you’ll see 0-60 times hover around the 5-second mark. While that’s no slouch, it’s not as fast as it could be, with an all-wheel-drive system. Having said that, the Sonata N-Line still toasts the Camry TRD-Pro and Honda Accord 2.0T.
We really love what the engineers have done with the interior quality of all trim levels of the Sonata and this N model kicks things up a notch. The stitched leather and high-quality surface materials give it a really upscale look and feel.
At the centerpiece of the interior is an easy to use 10.3-inch infotainment touch-screen that works like that of a smartphone. It powers a Bose premium audio system that’s good. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near the greatness Hyundai of the Harmon/Kardon or the Infinity systems in the KIA models. Why Hyundai went to Bose might forever be a mystery. In the audio industry, there’s a running joke of: “No highs? No Lows? Oh, it must be Bose” – and that holds true here. The bass lacks the punch we crave and the highs fall flat.
The built-in apps are great and its navigation is easy to use, but most folks will likely opt to use it with the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
On the road:
Like all N-line cars from Hyundai, this Sonata really shines on the open road. You’ll want to find a road with a lot of corners in it. There’s something that beckons you to keep the accelerator firmly smashed to the floor, gently letting up, applying a touch of brake around hard corners. The stiffer suspension – especially in “Sport mode” – allows the car to glide around these corners with glee.
Hyundai’s use of stiffer springs, better anti-roll bars, and other tweaks give this car a feel all its own in this class.
Coming in at a price tag of around $35k, it’s not the cheapest in its class but it does offer the most performance and is hands-down the most fun to drive. If you’re a performance lover looking for a mid-size sedan that will leave you feeling as if you’re a race-car driver. With all of the comfort and tech, you’re used to.
Book a test drive of the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N-line, today.