As much as we love manual transmissions, we also enjoy making fun-to-drive vehicles accessible to as many people as possible. We’ve already driven—and adored—a Hyundai Elantra N with a six-speed manual, and you’ll be happy to know that replacing the stick with an eight-speed automatic clutch won’t mess with the car’s metric truckload. daily-driven sports-sedan excellence.
Manuals are always at a disadvantage compared to faster cog-swappers when it comes to acceleration. At 4.8 seconds to 60 mph, the dual-clutch Elantra N beats its stick sibling by 0.3 seconds—Hyundai’s swing for the fences, too, as it’s also a tenth quicker to 60 than the new Honda Civic Type R. It also holds it. itself against the Honda in the quarter-mile rush, besting the Type R by a tenth (13.4 seconds versus 13.5) and tying the 106-mph trap speed. Not bad for a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that produces 286 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque.
Fuel economy also benefits when the gear doesn’t stop at six. At 37 mpg on our 75-mph highway loop, the automatic-equipped Elantra N bested the manual Elantra’s 32-mpg result. Then again, the Elantra is thrifty no matter what; the six-speed variant beats other manual-equipped players like the Civic Type R (30 mpg) and the Subaru WRX (28 mpg), though the Subie is handicapped by its standard all-wheel drive. The only automatic competitor it can’t beat is the cheaper, less powerful Honda Civic Si, which managed 38 mpg in our hands.
The Elantra N’s dual clutch provides a weight penalty of 114 pounds, with our automatic test car weighing 3313 pounds on our scales compared to the manual’s 3199. That has a very mild effect on its braking figures, with the automatic stopping from 70 mph in 161 feet and from 100 mph in 324 feet—slightly longer than the manual. stops 156 feet and 318 feet, respectively. The dual-clutch model’s stopping power is also off the Subaru WRX.
At 0.96 g on our skidpad, the Elantra N exhibits plenty of wood, but sport-sedan joie de vivre beyond the numbers on the page. Lateral body motion is well controlled, especially in the stiffer suspension settings, and the steering provides some good feedback, although the weight range feels entirely artificial. Don’t overdrive the thing and the electronic limited-slip differential will efficiently channel power to either front wheel; rely too much on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires, and it’s a one-way trip to Understeer City. The dual-clutch does a great job of shifting between gears once engaged, although it can operate with some lumps and shakes at rush hour speeds.
Customization also helps make the Elantra N so appealing; on the dual-clutch Elantra, the driver can change between two to three different settings each for the engine, steering, suspension, transmission, limited-slip differential, stability control and exhaust note—up to 1458 possible permutations. Handily, you can assign your personal favorites to one of the N buttons on the steering wheel for quick access.
This mod isn’t just for show, either; there are demonstrable differences in each setting. Throttle response varies from mild daily drive to binary input. You can weight the steering wheel so high that it counts as a gym membership. The suspension absorbs little movement in Normal mode, but it will shake your fill in Sport+. With the exhaust set to Sport+, even a light lift of the right pedal will generate a few seconds of overrun so powerful it could be sold at Phantom Fireworks. But if you keep everything in Normal, the N feels very close to any other Elantra out there.
Heck, aside from a few N-specific touches, the Elantra’s interior isn’t far from its pedestrian variant. There’s some blue contrast stitching and some cool light-up badges on the seats, but otherwise, it’s My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” in the cabin, which like that song is pretty boring when you’re out of your emo phase. The lack of a USB-C port on the 2023 is also a bit disappointing, but at least there’s a wireless charger if you want not one, but two slow ways to charge the phone. A pair of 10.3-inch displays cover instrumentation and infotainment duties, and both are easy to master.
The pendulum swings wildly between the Elantra N’s cabin and its exterior. With its already large grille and additional dark elements on both sides, this nimble sedan looks more like a boring remora than a family car. A bit of red trim on the lower body screams “Sporty!” just in case the rear wing and dual honkin’ tailpipes don’t give it away. But credit where it’s due, Hyundai’s wild styling stands out from the competition; Subaru seems to have given up on developing the WRX, we’re pretty sure German law dictates that every new GTI looks derivative, and the 11th generation Civic has gone conservative after the 10th generation’s seemingly mescaline-induced reverie.
At $35,515, the DCT Elantra N comes equipped with all of the above—and then some. The Honda Civic Si is closer to $30,000, but it doesn’t have the theater or any kind of customizability. The GTI SE, our preferred trim, costs more and has less power, but it no have a square cloth. Subaru WRX at the same price, but it’s thirsty and it looks like it. As such, the Elantra N represents a pretty screaming deal given the average price of a new car today. Plus, the Elantra N is really fun to drive across a variety of scenarios—even with the self-shifting gearbox.
2023 Hyundai Elantra N
Vehicle Type: front engine, front wheel drive, 5 passenger, 4 door sedan
Base/As Tested: $35,515/$35,515
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 122 in31998 sm3
Power: 286 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 289 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
8-speed dual clutch automatic
Suspension, F/R: strut/multi-link
Brakes, F/R: 14.2-in vented disc/12.4-in vented disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
245/35ZR-19 (93Y) HN
Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Length: 184.1 in
Width: 71.9 inches
Height: 55.7 inches
Passenger Volume, F/R: 56/46 feet3
Trunk Volume: 14 feet3
Curb Weight: 3313 lb
C/D TEST RESULT
60 mph: 4.8 seconds
100 mph: 11.7 seconds
1/4-Mile: 13.4 seconds @ 106 mph
130 mph: 22.1 seconds
The above results leave a 1 foot launch for 0.3 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.4 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.1 seconds
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.8 seconds
Top speed (C/D estimate): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 feet
Braking, 100–0 mph: 324 feet
Road grip, 300 ft Skid Pad: 0.96 g
C/D OIL ECONOMY
Observed: 21 mpg
75-mph Highway Drive: 37 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 450 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 23/20/30 mpg
C/D TESTS EXPLAINED
Cars are jam Andrew Krok, along with boysenberry. After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009, Andrew cut freelance magazine features by writing, and now he has a decade of full-time review experience. A Chicagoan by birth, he’s been a resident of Detroit since 2015. Maybe one day he’ll do something about that half-finished engineering degree.