By on January 14, 2019

When Hyundai announced an “N Line” trim level to complement its N performance sub-brand, we initially presumed it would akin to Chevrolet’s Redline vehicles or Volkswagen’s R-Line. If you’re unfamiliar with these vehicles, they can be summed up by the classic idiom “all show and no go,” and are only a small sample of a broader trend sweeping the industry.

Fortunately, it turns out Hyundai cares about more than just looking good. While we can’t speak for the upcoming wave of N Line products the Korean automaker has in store, we can discuss the Elantra GT N Line — the first of these mid-range performance models, revealed Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The N Line replaces the existing Elantra GT Sport as the sportiest variant of Hyundai’s compact hatch and introduces some assertive styling choices borrowed from the Veloster and Europe-only i30 N. 

It does not, however, build upon the outgoing model’s engine. The front-wheel drive GT N Line uses the same 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter as last year’s Sport, which can be mated with the standard six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for $1,100. Those output figures still place the model a class above the base Elantra’s 128 hp and keep it a fair distance away from the Veloster N’s 250 or 275 hp. You’re getting enough power to have fun with, but not so much that you’re stepping on the real N performance sub-brand’s toes.

Based on the outgoing Sport’s specs, we imagine the Elantra GT N Line to boast a 0-to-60 time in the mid 6-second range.

While the motor goes mostly untouched, Hyundai still chose to upgrade the car mechanically. The GT N Line receives much stiffer engine and transmission mounts, updated steering calibration, retuned shocks, and springs that we’re told are 14.3 percent stiffer at the front and 21.9 percent stiffer in the rear. Front and rear sway bars are also modified to further improve handling.

It’s impossible to say if these changes translate into a road-hugging Elantra, but it does prove that Hyundai doesn’t want to take it easy with the N Line. With the manual variant’s inclusion of special 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (the dual-clutch gets Hankook all-season rubber as standard), we would be flabbergasted if it didn’t feel extra willing to hold onto the pavement.

Hyundai’s SmartSense will be available — offering Smart Cruise Control with start/stop capability, forward collision avoidance with assist, high beam assist, lane keeping with assist, and driver attention alerts. There’s also a technology package that bundles ventilated seats (with power adjustments for the driver), a panoramic sunroof, the automaker’s Blue Link Connected Car System, 8-inch AVN 5.0 navigation display, a wireless charging pad, and an Infinity audio system with a subwoofer, in addition to the aforementioned safety features.

It’s worth noting that those disinterested in the N Line can still purchase the standard Elantra GT, which soldiers on entirely unchanged from last year. You should be able to tell it apart from the N Line easily enough by peering through the windows. Telltale signs include a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather sport seats, and a sporting instrument cluster — all of which include the N logo or distinctive red stitching.

Rather than compete with the brunt of the sport compact segment directly, Hyundai seems to want to bookend it. Whereas the Veloster N can trounce the Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic Si in terms of performance, the N Line Elantra cannot. Instead, it offers an affordable alternative to the individuals considering them — much in the same way that the Veloster N would with something like the Civic Type R.

According to the manufacturer, pricing for the Elantra GT N Line starts at $23,300 for the six-speed (before destination). That’s a completely negligible price increase from the model it’s replacing and improving upon. The dual-clutch is a bit dearer at $24,400 and the standard GT (which uses the weaker 2.0-liter motor and Shiftronic transmission) comes in at $20,450.

[Images: Hyundai]

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26 Comments on “2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line Warm Hatch Debuts in Detroit...”

  • avatar

    Button blank syndrome seems to be getting worse with all automakers.

  • avatar

    “Whereas the Veloster N can trounce the Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic Si in terms of performance, the N Line Elantra cannot.”

    Absolutely true concerning the GTI. But in terms of acceleration, this car will hang right with the Civic Si, believe it or not.

    Anyone looking for an inexpensive compact with some performance potential would be wise to check out this car, and the Elantra Sport. Just stick with the manual – the DCT in this car isn’t great.

    • 0 avatar

      I love the hell out of my Elantra Sport. Considering transaction price is no where near sticker these are a bargain for a fun commuter car.

    • 0 avatar

      I still really want this Elentra GT with the actual Veloster N engine.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed, but I think one of the charms of this car is that it’s a great cheap/semi-fast commuter car, ala Corolla FX16. Small, inexpensive, fun and a touch unrefined. It’s almost old-school.

        With people actually dropping $30,000 Encores and Ecosports while (apparently) sober, that’s a precious commodity. We need more cars like this.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like this with some wheels that won’t rattle your fillings when you hit a pothole. Cars that live in the real world need some sidewall.

    • 0 avatar

      One problem though in these – clutch weight/calibration. It is unpleasant. You never know, are you in or not in. It grabs very early and is very fussy. I wish, they would invest into some port injection. Looks like these direct injected motors can get really nasty inside.

  • avatar

    I see a case for GTI type vehicles like this. In this SUV world, does a single 45 year old man or woman really want to drive a RAV4? Why not a premium compact? Compacts are quite large anyway these days.
    However, from the looks of it, this Elantra may need something more in terms of interior and overall “premiumness” to fit that niche.

    • 0 avatar

      This, this, this, one million times this. The performance car is under siege, folks. I think we’re at risk of losing them altogether. If the breed is to survive, then I think the cheap, fast car is way to go. If nothing else, a higher price allows the manufacturer to make a few more bucks.

      I’d say it’s time for some Fight the Power action, folks. Small performance cars forever!

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        No argument. These were the sort of cars that young car guys (or girls) purchased back in the day. Contrary to popular belief, they all didn’t drive E30 Bimmers. I’m all for the “forbidden fruit” type stuff like the Civic Type R, Focus RS, and the STI, but those aren’t (or weren’t) the sort of cars mere mortals could swing. Cars like this are the modern SE-R (when it was good), Civic SI, and Integras and we need to keep them around. If you lose cars like this and the young enthusiast has to go for a cvt equipped something or another, you won’t have enthusiasts much longer.

    • 0 avatar

      The next gen Elantra/GT should see a pretty significant interior upgrade.

      The Tucson got one for its refresh (really needed it), so can see Hyundai do something similar for the next Elantra/GT.

      Speaking of the Tucson, supposedly there is a Tucson-N in development, so that probably means a Tucson N-Line as well.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I like it.Poor mans A3 with a manual.Real world transaction prices for elantra sport at 20k range, so should this. Decent performance on 87 octane, 30mpg or so highway. You could do much worse. There aren’t a lot of options with manual trans that aren’t Ace of Base models. Here’s looking at you Mazda 6, Accord 1.5T.

  • avatar

    Does anyone get it?
    Gee T N Line
    Get N Line!

  • avatar

    Meh, I’d rather take the Veloster N, or a Civic Si coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Heck man, I’d rather have a Veyron, but I would love to see cars like this make a comeback. The coupe form factor is a non starter for many. I’ve had great luck with Hyundai and would love to have another car on the potential replacement list since Ford seems to no longer want to sell a car to me.

  • avatar

    “Whereas the Veloster N can trounce the Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic Si in terms of performance, the N Line Elantra cannot. Instead, it offers an affordable alternative…”

    hmmmm…Veloster N, but Elantra N Line….

    So now we know you say “M Sport” in Korean.

  • avatar

    I really like this car, it’s right in the sweet spot, a bit more ooompf than a Golf, but not quite the car – and the price – of a GTI. I will quite likely buy something like it in the future.

    I currently find myself driving a 2010 hatchback A3. It’s such a great car. The 2.0T is a marvel. Up to about 70-75 mph, I prefer it to my E90 328. It’s got so much passing power, and it gets 26 mpg per tank in the dead of winter (91 octane). I’ve already carried a big coffee table in the back, a big dining set (with four chairs, everything only partially disassembled) and other large objects. So easy to park. World-class xenons. It is gorgeous and I bought it cheap-ish. These are the strengths. What it can’t do well: while it has zero trouble getting up to 100-110 mph in a hurry, I’d MUCH rather be in the BMW once it gets above 75 mph. I crossed Indiana and Ohio with the cruise at 86 the other day, and it is buzzier and more tiring than I’d like. Oil changes must happen at five thousand or less, and synthetic is costly (I do not have the time or inclination to do them myself). I will most certainly have the walnut blast done at the 80 thousand mile interval, or else (thanks DI). As wonderful as the DSG is, 5mph maneuvers remain frustrating. In short, while this is not what I’d call a highway sedan, it does so many things shockingly well. And the strangest part is that I don’t think it’s smaller cargo area than a Q5. This is in a two-car future for me and my wife, there’s always going to be something like this.

    At 20K and change, the Hyundai would be very high on my list as a replacement.

  • avatar

    I test drove the previous version before I bought my Golf. The exhaust even makes popping noises when you use engine braking. Probably create via engine programming, but still adds to the “whee” factor.

    To be honest the Kia version of this is pretty good too from a price performance perspective.

  • avatar

    I own a 2018 GT Sport, and its great. Seems like this GT N-Line is the exact same car, but with a different badge, revised steering wheel, and shifter. All of the features and specs are the same as the 2018 GT Sport. I have had mine for almost a year and I have only seen one other one on the road, so its kind of cool from that stand point. It seems like dealers didn’t stock too many of the GT sports, so there are not many of them around. Hopefully Hyundai does a better job in getting these out to dealers. There were only 4 GT Sports with tech package in a 150 mile radius of me and I live in a major metropolitan area.

    I get 30mpg in combined driving and it runs great on 87. Fun car to toss around, and its super stable in bumpy corners with the suspension set-up thats exclusive to the sport. I assume the N-line will be exactly the same.

  • avatar

    How is the clutch and transmission in the manual version?
    Is there anything better than this for practicality, fun and value?

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