N-troduction: Calling the Hyundai Sonata N Line a modern-day muscle automobile is a surefire method to get accused of automotive heresy. In any case, it is only a household sedan with a warmer engine, a stiffer suspension, a flashy physique package, and a few crimson inside accents, proper? Properly, yeah, however the authentic GTO was only a Pontiac Tempest with a high-output V-8, upgraded chassis and drivetrain elements, and varied visible distinctions. The purpose is not to straight evaluate the souped-up Sonata to the legendary GTO. They’re clearly incomparable. Philosophically, although, they’re lower from the identical material, solely they exist in numerous eras.

The New York Occasions studies that, in 2020, millennials purchased extra new vehicles than child boomers for the primary time ever. Coincidentally, that aligns with the speedy enlargement of Hyundai’s N efficiency subbrand, which makes a lot of its mainstream fashions extra emotionally stimulating. The 201-hp Elantra N Line and the 286-hp Elantra N are prime examples. To see if the Korean automaker can educate a youthful technology that vehicles may be enjoyable—however primarily to see how the brand new N-branded model of Hyundai’s mid-size sedan holds up over the course of 40,000 miles­—we welcomed a 2021 Sonata N Line to our long-term fleet.

Michael SimariAutomobile and Driver

In contrast to the compact Elantra, the Sonata’s efficiency peaks with the N Line. It is the one trim stage that incorporates a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four and an eight-speed dual-clutch computerized transmission. The engine makes 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. That is almost 100 ponies and 130 pound-feet greater than the Sonata’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine. With all that energy solely feeding the entrance axle, there’s extra squealing from the N Line’s entrance tires than a barnyard stuffed with pissed-off pigs. Even within the default Regular drive mode, we discovered ourselves involuntarily burning rubber when leaving stops with comparatively delicate throttle inputs. Consequently, we’ll be monitoring our check automobile’s tread put on. Each N Line rolls on intricately designed multi-spoke 19-inch wheels that may be wrapped with Continental Premium Contact 6 summer time tires as a $200 possibility, however ours got here with the usual Pirelli P Zero all seasons.

We remorse not upgrading to the Continentals, as a result of the N Line we track-tested with them outperformed our long-termer on the usual Pirellis. On summer time tires, the N Line stopped from 70 mph in a brief 152 ft; it wanted 183 ft on the all-seasons. Likewise, the stickier tires helped the N Line generate a notable 0.93 g on our 300-foot skidpad versus 0.85 g. A minimum of the tires on our long-term Sonata barely affected its acceleration occasions. It launched to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 13.8 ticks at 104 mph. We’ll should see if we are able to shut the 0.2-second hole versus the summer-tire-equipped N Line throughout its exit check.

Michael SimariAutomobile and Driver

Nonetheless, the variations between the Sonata N Line and the remainder of the lineup go deeper than tire choices, an unique powertrain, and extreme wheelspin. The engine and transmission mounts are stiffer to higher deal with the upper torque output. Together with bigger brake rotors throughout, Hyundai says the calipers are revised to work with the larger discs and upgraded brake pads. The N Line additionally has thicker anti-roll bars and options specifically tuned dampers and barely firmer rear springs. Its steering ratio is faster, too, and the electrical motor that assists the steering system is relocated from the column to the rack to enhance the texture. The web result’s a automobile that handles very well and drives extra cohesively than the common model. The draw back is that the N Line’s experience is significantly stiffer.

Other than the non-compulsory summer time tires—which are not accessible on its company sibling, the Kia K5 GT—there are nearly no choices to differentiate your N Line out of your neighbor’s. Choosing the audacious Glowing Yellow paint could be one, particularly because it has been dropped for the 2022 mannequin 12 months. Our 2021 instance wears no-cost Stormy Sea (deep blue) paint and $169 carpeted flooring mats that increase its $34,305 base worth to $34,474 as examined. The N Line comes customary with a 12-speaker Bose stereo, a full suite of driver assists, heated entrance seats, passive entry, a panoramic sunroof, and wi-fi cellphone charging. Plus, it has a digital gauge cluster and a ten.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in navigation, in addition to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Michael SimariAutomobile and Driver

To date, we have racked up simply almost 7000 miles. Most of that was round our headquarters in southeast Michigan, however we have additionally traveled to the state’s Higher Peninsula and into Ontario, Canada. The N Line has a mixed EPA score of 27 mpg, which is what we’re averaging. The early logbook feedback reward the automobile’s chassis tuning and transmission calibration. Nonetheless, some staffers have referred to as its inside drab. There are quibbles concerning the push-button shifter and that the plastic behind the door handles is not as good as the encircling trim. The motive force’s seat peak can also be unnaturally excessive, leaving a few of our noggins uncomfortably near the microsuede headliner.

With hundreds of miles left to go, we’ll finally resolve if the sportiest Sonata excites us or exhausts us. And hopefully alongside the way in which we’ll additionally discover out if the N Line can encourage this technology the way in which the Pontiac GTO as soon as did previous generations.

Months in Fleet: 3 months Present Mileage: 6969 miles

Common Gasoline Economic system: 27 mpg

Gasoline Tank Dimension: 15.9 Noticed Gasoline Vary: 420 miles

Service: $0 Regular Put on: $0 Restore: $0

Harm and Destruction: $0

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