2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line Warm Hatch Debuts in Detroit

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 26 comments
  • Bobdod04 Bobdod04 on Jan 15, 2019

    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.

  • MorrisGray MorrisGray on Dec 10, 2019

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

  • Akear The front reminds me of the Pontiac Aztec, though it does look better than that infamous vehicle. I predict they will sell about 5,000 of these annually.
  • Chris Teague I'm putting the Pilot Sport 4s back on my GR Corolla next week, so all of New England can thank me for the late spring snow storm we'll undoubtedly have right after that.
  • 285exp I am no less interested in buying an EV this year as I was last.
  • FreedMike @Tim Healey: Off topic but this site is becoming borderline unusable from a technical standpoint, and it doesn't matter if I'm using my phone, laptop or Ipad. At some point you can't type anymore.
  • Rochester It depends entirely on the vehicle. Summer-only tires are pointless on a Sentra, but awesome on a Z.