2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (2024)

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2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (1)

Chris Davies/SlashGear

ByChris Davies/

EDITORS' RATING : 9 / 10

  • Turbo 2.0L is powerful enough for genuine fun
  • Great suspension setup delivers comfort and poise
  • Surprisingly affordable
  • The practicality of a compact sedan
  • Some underwhelming materials in a dark, sober cabin
  • No wireless smartphone projection or adaptive cruise
  • Aesthetics may not be to everyone's taste

There's an old adage in affordable enthusiast car circles that "the answer is always Miata." After all, little has come to encapsulate the idea of attainable purist performance like Mazda's long-running MX-5 series. What is the grin-hunter on a budget to do when they need five seats and — dare it be said — practicality from their plaything?

Turns out, Hyundai might well have the answer. Its N series of performance models may not have the lengthy legacy of the Miata, but the 2023 Elantra N doesn't seem to be letting a truncated track record hold it back. Neither does a starting price only a little north of $30K.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (2) Chris Davies/SlashGear

The standard Elantra is an earnest, low-cost compact sedan with unexpectedly striking looks. With a sticker that kicks off under half the average selling price of a new car in the U.S., it's also one of the cheapest four-door options. Once Hyundai's N division is done with it, however, the change is borderline astonishing.

Nobody will call the Elantra N subtle

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Chris Davies/SlashGear

The Elantra N certainly looks the part. Hyundai hasn't really messed with a working formula, and while the undoubtedly in-your-face body kit and contrasting red trim doesn't necessarily fill every onlooker with joy, there's at least no confusing it for a regular Elantra.

19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires are standard, and look just swell, with red brake calipers peeking out through the spokes. Hyundai then adds a rear spoiler and dual exhaust outlets, together with a rear diffuser and some side-sill extensions. Splashes of bright red play nicely against the Cyber Gray of this review car, and even if it's not to your taste, the fact that you're getting all this from $32,650 (plus $1,095 destination) is faintly astonishing.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (4) Chris Davies/SlashGear

LED headlamps, daytime running lamps, and taillamps are all standard. In fact, Hyundai has left very little down to personal taste, apart from arguably the most important detail, of course.

One engine, and a choice of transmissions

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Chris Davies/SlashGear

There's a single engine: a specially tuned 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, with 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. As standard, it's paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, but for $1,500 more, you can have an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic. That also adds paddle shifters to the steering wheel.

The decision between stick or auto is always going to be a contentious one. Hyundai's 6-speed is grand, but there's a lot to like about the 8-speed DCT, too. Unsurprisingly the Elantra N is fastest, from 0-60 mph, with the automatic — that's just par for the course these days.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (6) Chris Davies/SlashGear

Rowing your own gears is something special, undoubtedly, but while the Elantra N is never going to be as demure as a standard Elantra, nor is it permanently set to beast-mode. The standard electronically-controlled suspension plays a big role, there, with adjustable levels of softness that allow the performance sedan to do a serviceable impression of a more sedate, comfort-minded car.

The magic is in the suspension flexibility

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Chris Davies/SlashGear

Regardless of transmission type, there's an electronic limited-slip differential as standard, helping push power to the wheel with the most traction. Multi-link independent rear suspension is also standard, plus a rear chassis brace. For slowing, there are 14.2-inch front and 12.4-inch rear ventilated brake rotors.

Hyundai's drive mode situation isn't quite as complex as what you'd find in a modern BMW M car, but you certainly aren't short on options. Eco and Normal are at the placid end, though the Elantra N is never outright slow (nor its suspension squishy). Still, there's compliance enough that you won't need to divert to a chiropractor in cases of rough asphalt.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (8) Chris Davies/SlashGear

Hit the Drive Mode button, though, and you find Sport mode, which cranks things up into more aggressive levels. Then there's the most potent N mode, summoned with one of the two programmable "N" buttons on the steering wheel.

All the grins

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (9)

Chris Davies/SlashGear

Different graphics on the 10.25-inch driver's instrument cluster show what mode you're in: effectively color scheme changes in Eco, Normal, and Sport, but a complete redesign in N mode. It looks more like something you'd expect from a race car binnacle, with priority given to metrics like engine and oil temperature.

Are Elantra N owners taking their budget performance cars to the track? Here's hoping, because I suspect it would be a fun plaything to throw around without worrying about other traffic, pedestrians, or speed traps. The soundtrack certainly punches above its weight — glorious pops and gurgles amid a loud, but not ugly burble.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (10) Chris Davies/SlashGear

Shiny and red among the blue dashboard highlights is the NGS — or "N Grin Shift" — button, effectively the Elantra N's boost trigger. Stab that and, regardless of what drive mode you're in, you'll get 20 seconds of the most aggressive performance. That includes 10 horsepower more than normal, perfect for taking advantage of an overtaking opportunity (or just being silly on a stretch of open road).

It's definitely not slow on that straight line, nor do corners dampen the Elantra N's spirit. Beautifully weighted steering and fast, responsive handling make the best of whatever twisties you might have on hand. Better still, there's every encouragement to wring the heck out of the turbo-four: much like a Miata, this isn't a case of an overpowered car being underutilized on public roads.

A dark cabin with decent standard equipment

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Chris Davies/SlashGear

Inside, the Elantra N's cabin is a dark and sober place to find yourself. There's only one interior color scheme — black leather combined with black microsuede — and the blue contrast stitching doesn't come close to lifting it. I'm not asking for bright ivory leather, but some textured aluminum wouldn't hurt.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (12) Chris Davies/SlashGear

N-branded front bucket seats are standard, and mighty supportive. They have illuminated "N" plates, just in case you want to backlight your neck, and manual adjustment. Heating is also standard alongside the dual-zone climate control. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and transmission shifter knob also get N-branding, and Hyundai gets bonus points for its quality-feeling metal paddle shifters.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (13) Chris Davies/SlashGear

The front is spacious, but the rear bench suffers a little on legroom thanks to the bowed backs of the front seats. More off-putting is the extent of the hard black plastic: No great surprise, given where Hyundai has allocated its budget here, but still not exactly pleasing to the touch.

At least it feels sturdy in most places, though if you drop the rear seats down to expand the 14.2 cubic-feet of trunk space — fine, if not outstanding — you'll find an anti-roll bar spanning the gap. Good for reinforcement, not so much for transporting bulky items.

Some tech oddities

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Chris Davies/SlashGear

A 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard, with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Hyundai's reluctance to upgrade to wireless versions continues to bemuse, especially as it throws in a wireless phone charging pad as standard. Dual USB ports are in the front, along with a Bose eight-speaker audio system and SiriusXM.

Hyundai Blue Link is standard — with a three year subscription — as is the automaker's digital key system, though the latter only works on Android phones and not iPhone. The Elantra N also gets a tilt-and-slide sunroof, though oddly only if you spec for the DCT gearbox.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (15) Chris Davies/SlashGear

As we've seen on other cars from the automaker, the list of safety equipment that comes at no extra cost is fulsome. Forward collision-avoidance assist and blind spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, and reverse parking sensors are all standard. Lane-keeping and lane-following assist are also included, which only makes the absence of adaptive cruise control more of a head-scratcher.

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Verdict

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (16)

Chris Davies/SlashGear

Perhaps Hyundai's Highway Driving Assist (HDA) is considered too sensible for the 2023 Elantra N. Maybe Hyundai felt too embarrassed that its sports-sedan-on-a-budget actually returns reasonable economy numbers (for the segment, at least). 20 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined are far, far from what an Elantra Hybrid can deliver, but then again, no enthusiast has ever grabbed eagerly for the keys to that gas-sipper.

The Elantra N's keys are, in contrast, mighty appealing. While it may be less powerful than a Honda Civic Type R, it's also around $10K cheaper. The price delta between the Hyundai and a new GR Corolla is only $3K, but good luck trying to find Toyota's hot hatch in-stock and at MRSP. Most important, I'm not entirely sure it's any less engaging than either of those rivals, at least not to the extent that's permissible on public asphalt.

It leaves the 2023 Elantra N something of a star in the sports sedan category, and one for which Hyundai should be lauded (even as it does grand things in electrification and earnest family SUVs). The biggest worry, indeed, is that — like the Veloster N, which was recently discontinued — Hyundai might decide it makes less sense in a lineup increasingly dominated by EVs. The keen driver on a budget should probably get in while the going is good.

Recommended

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear (2024)

FAQs

2023 Hyundai Elantra N Review: The Practical Miata Alternative - SlashGear? ›

Beautifully weighted steering and fast, responsive handling make the best of whatever twisties you might have on hand. Better still, there's every encouragement to wring the heck out of the turbo-four: much like a Miata, this isn't a case of an overpowered car being underutilized on public roads.

Is the 2023 Hyundai Elantra N reliable? ›

2023 Elantra N Reliability

Although the Elantra N hasn't been specifically rated by JD Power, the normal 2023 Elantra attains a rating of 78 out of 100 for Quality & Reliability. According to the NHTSA, there have been no recalls for the 2023 Elantra N at the time of writing.

Is the Elantra N practical? ›

As if we needed any reminders. But the Elantra N is more than just sporty; it's a roomy, comfortable, and practical four-door sedan.

Is Elantra 2023 worth buying? ›

Or, if fuel economy and reduced fuel bills are what you're looking for, the Elantra Hybrid satisfies with up to EPA-estimated 54 mpg in combined driving. Overall, we think the Elantra is a solid choice for anyone looking for a compact sedan in 2023.

Is Elantra N expensive to maintain? ›

The average annual repair cost for a Hyundai is $468, which means it has above average ownership costs. The other factors that contribute to Hyundai reliability include an average of 0.3 visits to a repair shop per year and a 10% probability of a repair being severe.

Does Elantra N require premium gas? ›

***** Premium fuel and N Drive mode activation required to achieve estimated maximum horsepower of 276 hp. Use of regular fuel will result in reduced horsepower. Your complete guided tour of ELANTRA N.

Is the Hyundai N-line worth buying? ›

The looks, ride quality, handling, performance is top notch. It reaches 100kmh in under 10 seconds. Comfort is way above average when it comes to the hatchback standards. Suspension is 30% stiffer than standard i20 as per company claims.

How long will an Elantra N last? ›

Tackling Frequent Questions About Elantra's Durability

Answer: With regular maintenance and mindful driving, a Hyundai Elantra can easily exceed 200,000 miles—many owners have reported their Elantras smoothly running even past 250,000 miles.

Does the Elantra N handle well? ›

Other than the effects of the 3rd generation platform mentioned above, there are several keys to the excellent handling performance of Elantra N - such as e-LSD that delivers the force to the outer front wheel when cornering, dual compound insulators for both ride comfort and handling performance, reinforcements ...

Is the Hyundai Elantra N loud? ›

That said, having spent plenty of time in the Elantra N (as well as the now-discontinued Veloster N with the same powertrain), we know that the little Hyundais are loud—but only in the more aggressive drive modes, where the exhaust belts out plenty of racy blats, pops, and cracks.

What is the disadvantage of the Hyundai Elantra? ›

Lows The base powertrain could use a bit more spunk, we'd love a manual transmission option, hybrid disappoints on highway fuel economy. Verdict Its design is eye-catching, but the Elantra's bland on-road character won't raise any eyebrows.

Is the Elantra N fast? ›

Elantra N models with the manual transmission can go from zero to 60 mph in just under 6 seconds, while those with the automatic reduce that to roughly 5 seconds. The Elantra N also has a launch control mode that briefly provides a boost to 286 horsepower.

Does the 2023 Hyundai Elantra have a recall? ›

Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Palisade Tucson, 2023 Sonata, Elantra, and Kona vehicles. The electronic controller for the Idle Stop & Go oil pump assembly may contain damaged electrical components that can cause the pump controller to overheat.

Does Hyundai Elantra hold its value? ›

Excellent Resale Value

Hyundai Elantras hold their value well in the used car market. This means that when the time comes to sell your Elantra, you'll receive a respectable resale value, which can help offset your initial investment.

Is the Elantra N fuel efficient? ›

How economical is the Elantra N? The Hyundai Elantra N gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined with the manual or 23 mpg combined with the automatic transmission.

Is the Elantra N only manual? ›

An eight-speed automatic is available but we're happy to report a six-speed manual is standard.

Is the new Hyundai Elantra reliable? ›

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra has a predicted reliability score of 81 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.

Are Hyundai Elantra transmissions reliable? ›

Hyundai Elantra Transmission Problems

Another common problem seen in Hyundai Elantra's stems from their transmissions. These transmission problems include trouble shifting gears, delay when accelerating, and stalling. Even the smallest transmission hiccups should be brought to a mechanic immediately.

How long will a 2023 Hyundai Elantra last? ›

How many miles can a Hyundai Elantra last? A Hyundai Elantra can easily last 150,000 to 250,000 miles with regular maintenance and good driving practices. If you drive around 15,000 miles per year, it will survive 13 to 17 years before needing costly repairs or breaking down.

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