Hyundai Knocks It Out Of The Park With The Elantra N And Kona N — Here’s A Closer Look At Both: Video

Hyundai's getting serious about its N performance brand

2023 Hyundai Elantra N front
The all-new 2023 Hyundai Elantra N and its sibling the Kona N bring the goods. [image: TFL]

This week Kase and TFL’s test driver, Paul, are in Sonoma at the Somona Speedway road course to drive the all-new Hyundai Elantra N and Kona N all out. And why not, Hyundai’s high-performance N edition of its various vehicles promises out-sized sports car performance at an incredible value. Going squarely after Volkswagen’s GTI/GLI line-up, these Hyundai’s have answered the new specs from Volkswagen’s next-gen line-up and then some (Golf R, excepted).

2023 Hyundai Elantra N rear
The Elantra N features a rear wing, rear diffuser, 19-inch wheels, and a throaty, naughty exhaust note. [image: TFL]

Hyundai Elantra N: The lineup’s true performance car

Hyundai packed the spec list on the Elantra N. It starts with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 276 horsepower and 289 ft-lb. of torque. Like running through an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Even better, Hyundai offers the Elantra N with a 6-speed manual. While manual-shifters may enjoy a more visceral driving experience, they won’t get the dual-clutch driver’s secret sauce. That’s the overboost button, which pumps out an additional 10 hp for 20 seconds when pressed. It’s the big red button on the steering wheel. Traction is controlled via an electronic limited-slip differential. Braking comes via 14.2-inch rotors up front and special N line brake calipers.

The performance story doesn’t end with the engine though. The Elantra N gets a well-designed rear wing, air-diffuser under the rear bumper, side skirts, and 19-inch wheels. Inside, Hyundai did away with a sunroof in the name of saving weight and structural integrity. There’s also a rear brace installed behind the fold-down rear seats to aid rigidity. Not good for cargo capacity, but good for fun times on the track. Special heavily-bolstered “N” bucket seats firmly lock the driver in place.

Tech-wise, the Elantra N user-interface comes via two 10.2-inch digital screens, one for the usual driver gauges and one touchscreen for infotainment and programing the car’s drive modes. Settings include engine mapping, suspension settings, rev-matching and more. The two “N” buttons on the steering wheel can be programmed to access most of these functions, as well as setting one-touch lap times.

Hyundai Kona N, Crossover or Hot Hatch?

2023 Hyundai Kona N
The Hyundia Kona N is where function (note the roof rails) meets gonzo with up to 286 hp available. [image: TFL]

After the performance tour de force of the Elantra N, the Kona, while striking, doesn’t look quite as purpose-built as the Elantra N. And that’s okay. It is a crossover after all. Even though it may look like a hot hatch at first glance, it’s based on a crossover platform. Among the shared goodies the Kona N shares with the Elantra N: the same screaming 2.0-liter turbo, the overboost function, 7-speed dual clutch and electronic limited slip. The Kona N is not offered with the manual though.

Inside the Kona N skips the hardcore seats from the Elantra N for something sporty yet more sedated. The Kona splits its screens into driver’s cluster and a center stack, which wins for functionality and ease of use, but is starting to feel dated. To see for yourself click on the video below. Then check back soon for Paul Gerrad’s on road and on track driving review. If anyone knows if these N cars are legit, it’s Paul.