SPOILER ALERT: N-Line ≠ N. For the U.S. market Hyundai’s full blown Namyang specials are currently limited to the Veloster N 4-door sportback.
INSTEAD: what N-Line does for the 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT is take last year’s Sport hatchback up a noticeable Notch.
IN ASPIRATION: The 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line = a value biased challenger to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, with the raucous Ford Focus ST out of the North American hot hatch portrait.
BRINGING THE BURNING QUESTION: Can some tenacious rubber, stiffer springing, faster damping and aero body kit sharpen a hot compact without impacting daily driveability?
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2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line highlights:
– Starting price, including destination = $24,230 front-drive, 16V DOHC 2.0L inline-4 cylinder, 6-speed manual transmission.
– An intensification of last year’s Elantra GT Sport. More useful than a Hyundai Veloster 1.6 Turbo.
– In a wolf in sheep’s clothing way, a low slung hood, drawn back windshield and c-pillar suggest a softer approach than the ubiquitously upright hot hatch Volkswagen Golf GTI way. LED light assemblies are tweezed narrow as they wrap around whether in front or back, as are white DRLs. If a Kammback liftgate has been preserved here it receives distinctive lower beveling and moves the traditional rear lower corner reflectors to the upper bumper cover. A darkened exterior approach extended from all window frames to a wide hexagonal chain link grille, side mirror caps, front and rear lower fascia straked corners, pronounced roof spoiler, simulated rear lower diffuser. It’s far more subtle effort than Honda Civic Si‘s wannabe boy racer.
– Good ole’ large black on white dual analog tach and speedo gauges separated by a 4.3″ MFD hearken to a concise and orderly presentation of driving status. Switch buttons feature large font symbols and rotary knobs, whether for automatic climate or audio supervision are spiffed with gloss black /chrome and tactile serrations. Steering wheel spoke controls are a primer of proper space integration and tactile distinction. Who could ever fault an immense left mid-dash display illumination intensity toggle.
- Judicious number of “N” emblems are located at: front seat backs, appropriately thick heated perforated leather tilt/ telescoping steering wheel horizontal spoke and the spicy red striped matte silver shifter head.
– 8.0″ dash-top mount touch LCD infotainment display = Intelligibly intuitive. The tri-pane screen is supplemented by traditional audio volume and tuning knobs, and flanked by function buttons.
Fret not over the lack of proprietary entertainment apps & navigation inclusion since quality renditions of Android Auto / Apple CarPlay are standard. Hyundai’s BlueConnect telematics is available by subscription, as are SiriusXM radio and Travellink.
– Cabin sprucing is confined to leather seat surfaces, chrome control grouping bezels and in particular red outboard dash climate vent housings and seat piping. Otherwise dark hard dash and door panels are the frugal order of the day.
– Body type gamut treating front sport buckets are most welcome. A low cowl and beltline aid outward view. Occupants are rewarded to near segment leading space. +1 Sliding front center armrest.
– As a hatchback, Elantra GT N-Line scores highly useful in load lugging. With split rear seat backs folded nearly level with the durable hatch area load-floor, more than double the belongings can be fitted. Cabin storage = commendable with glove box, center console nooks, a deep sub arm-rest bin, though door pockets are strictly for bottles. +1 Concealed lower center stack deep wireless device storage; √ 6 cup, bottle holders, √ overhead retracting sunglass bin.
– The 1.6L 16V DOHC inline-4 powerplant’s 201 horsepower is wholly adequate for admission to the super warm hatch category. Fairly docile while cruising, laying into the aluminum throttle pedal in low gear emits a subtle, yet authentic exhaust snarl. Spotting some 63 lb-ft to the VW Golf GTI, once past some ECU revolution hang, the 195 lb-ft is available at sufficiently low engine speed, translating into meaningful forward overtaking lunges.
- The test model’s 6-speed manual gearbox is commuter proof boasting positive clutch disengagement with light pedal takeup. Shifter throws are long yet not too balky. However, the lack of true close ratio action nets some notchiness on rushed skipped shifts.
– An injection of beefed up spring rates by as much as 24% at rear and a 3 mm thicker rear anti-sway bar bring newfound limberness. Damping rates have been retuned for wheel control and freedom from harshness. Some tire slap was pronounced over broken concrete. Wind-up benign steering at pedestrian velocities breathes life as the background blurs.
The sharp turn in doled out by manual gearbox exclusive Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires avoids brutishness, though lacking competitors’ limited slip. Oversized front/ rear brake rotor sizing ensures effective speed reeling but without much aggression.
– observed 30 MPG surpasses EPA combined fuel economy estimates by 15%
– SAFETY = √ 7 Airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick; √ Standard rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Full LED wrap-around head and tail-lamps.
– INCLUDED = √ Keyless entry & ignition, cruise control, power windows, driver’s express; √ 8.0″ dashtop touch LCD infotainment display; √ Automatic 2-zone climate control; √ Perforated leather seats, heated front sport, steering, side mirrors; √ Bluetooth handsfree communications; √ 6 speaker HD radio streaming audio; √ Sirius XM, TravelLink (90 days trial), √ Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, BlueLink apps; √ USB x 2, 12V x 2.
– MAJOR OPTIONS = None
Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line PROS:
- Super affordable hot compact
- More practical than Hyundai Veloster 1.6T
- Grip of those Michelin Pilot Sport 4s
- Handsome, wolf in sheep’s clothing styling
- Light progressive clutch pedal, shift effort
- Good fuel economy
- Large control illustrations
- 8.0″ LCD dashtop 3-pane touch infotainment display
- Cabin materials contrast
- Comfortably supportive and fitting sport seats
Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line CONS:
- No limited slip differential
- Tire slap & rear end buck over broken concrete
- Steering action too benign at low speeds
- Engine turbo lag
- Sub-knee cabin plastics thin and coarse
- No driver assist on 6-speed manual
- No native navigation on 6-speed manual
2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line = Although unable to de-throne the VW GTI , a sensible, high value daily driver approach to hot compacts.
ANY COMPETITION: Honda Civic Si: +1 sedan, steering, limited slip differential; Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk.7: +1 venerable hot hatchback bogey.
(Contributing Editor: J. Flynn)