2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line – Bottom Line Review

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: Q-ship light supplants very warm hatchback. MSRP $26k = save the manual

VERY WARM HATCH WORK AROUND: As the number of affordable enthusiast front-drive compact hatchbacks continues to dwindle between Pacific and Atlantic shores, there has been a corresponding rise among their sedan counterparts. The latest among these sporty compact four door Q-ships emerges from the ashes of five door sportback which was judged an editors’ favorite to “juke through traffic in.” It is with no lesser anticipation that Roadblazing.com approaches a re-designed 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line.

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WHAT: 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line sport 7th generation sport compact notchback sedan, built on the K3 platform, follows the AD Mk. 6 Elantra. In the U.S. market, where the 5-door is no more, this CN7 Elantra directly succeeds the PD platform Elantra GT (i30) N-Line hatchback previously tested by Roadblazing.com.

Powertrain: 1.6L DOHC 16V DI intercooled turbocharged gas I-4 = 201 hp/ 195 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm + 6-speed manual helical transaxle; optional 7-speed manumatic automated wet dual clutch helical transaxle, with steering wheel shift paddles & customizable Sport Plus drive mode.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: amply potent gas 1-4 lets out a low purr, but requires lots of throttle on clutch re-engagement with smooth take-up and shift lever action.


NOTCHED OUT: This all new Elantra builds on Luc Donckerwolke’s emphatic arched lateral panels and coke bottle body with flared lower spats canvas of the larger Hyundai Sonata family sedan, imbuing the compact family car with genuine 21st century modernist artistry. The wrap around boomerang headlamps feature a winged upper kink, resting above a creased inboard arrow, straked darkened cornered, mid front fascia, cinching the dark lattice tall grille. A body crease rises then arches from fender aft to end of rear quarter panels where it widens into lateral buttresses; The elongated C-pillar curves just above the trunk deck to create a liftgate illusion. The fastback trunk lid bi-folds with raceway LED lighting midsection anchoring wrap around boomerang taillamps. Piano black contrast widening inverted U forms lower license plate valley and wraps to rear wheel arch.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: Luc Donckerwolke’s arched panels carry over from larger Sonata, with a fastback rear slope

N-Line Specific: Piano black grille and lower front fascia, window frames, body spat extensions, lower rear diffuser, trunk lid spoiler; “N-LINE” chrome + red on black grille and fender badging.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: subtle darkened trunk lid spoiler, followed by raceway unified taillamps, lower valance diffuser

WHY: Working around the warm hatch exit from the American enthusiast commuter scene.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early autumn 2021

WHERE: Hyundai new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Ulsan, South Korea

HOW ROADWORTHY: The 1.6L 16V DOHC inline-4 powerplant’s 201 horsepower is wholly adequate for admission to the super warm sport compact pantheon. Fairly docile while cruising, laying down the aluminum throttle pedal in low gear even dispatches a satisfyingly subtle exhaust snarl through the twin chrome outlet tips. Despite spotting some 63 pound feet to the VW Jetta GLI , the 195 lb-ft twist absolutely delivers on the promise of meaningful forward lunges. The 2022 Elantra N-Line tester’s light clutch action and light, accurate throw shift lever pattern are aimed at pleasing the enthusiast commuter though turbo lag requires more throttle application on clutch re-engagement to avoid stalling. It is expected that the 7-speed dual clutch automated helical transaxle, likely addresses that lag.

HOW LIMBER: 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 re-tuned 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.

Manual gearbox equipped Elantra N-Line exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1-2 summer tires exhibit such sharp turn in without brutishness, despite lacking Jetta GLI Autobahn’s e-limited slip differential. Oversized front/ rear brake rotor sizing ensures effective speed reeling but without abruptness, and dive is suppressed. On balance road noise is about as well mitigated as in the larger Sonata.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: switch to fully independent rear suspension for buttoned down body control without rear hop or much harshness

HOW FAR: 31 combined miles per gallon; 420 mile range

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: No longer a true compact, now verging on a compact family car offering genuine 5 good size adult seating.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: 38.0″ inches roomy Row 2 legroom & center armrest

HOW USEFUL: Slight incline folding 60/40% split 2nd Row seatbacks; Cord suspended rear parcel shelf; +1 Low cowl forward view / -1 Wide side pillars & small backlight impede side / aft view; Tow Rating: Not Rated.

Cargo volume: 14.2 cubic feet = Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: class average trunk cargo capacity

HOW SAFE: 7 airbags; STD: Rear camera w/ predictive grid; Lane departure warning, Lane Keep Assist; Forward Collision warning, assist; Auto high beam lights; Sonar rear park assist, Blind spot, rear cross traffic warning, Pedestrian avoidance braking; Rain sensing windshield wipers

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: red on white gauge dial markings supplement red piping and contrast stitching
    • -1 Adaptive cruise control only available in twin clutch automatic transaxle Elantra N-Line.

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The latest Elantra earns more artful interior accenting and a more cohesive dashboard and supportive without being constraining N-Line specific ballistic fabric front bucket seats. Fitted with a more base-line finish, the N-Line cockpit retains  traditional white on black dual analog gauges and a center stack with knobs controlling audio and dual climate zone temperatures. However cost cutting is apparent in a plethora of hard, if tightly grained, dark plastics on mid dash, door panels and all non upholstered panels.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: all business cockpit business attire cockpit with rakish lines and cohesive informative displays and controls

Keyless entry & ignition, cruise control, power windows, driver’s express; 8.0″ dashtop touch LCD infotainment display; Automatic 2-zone climate control; N-Line ballistic fabric + leatherette sport heated front bucket seats, 8-way power driver’s adjusting; Power moonroof

Cool Gizmo(s): Aluminum pedals; Red on white on black dual analog gauges; Wet suit grip material on N-Line front bucket seat thigh and shoulder bolsters

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: driver entry

Details Done Right: Mid dashboard triple horizontal chrome banding integrates climate vents; Door panel metallic audio speaker grille; Front passenger center console grab bar;  tandem contrast red stitching on door panel, steering wheel, gear shift lever boots and seats; Thick leather sport steering wheel w/ perforated side grips; distinctive horizontal spoke multimedia, MFD & cruise control toggles, switches; Toggle style lower center stack climate switches

Nearly Non-Descript: Hard door, mid-lower dash, wall & pillar plastics


Bluetooth handsfree communications; 6 speaker HD radio streaming audio; Android Auto, Apple CarPlay mobile phone projection; USB-A x 2, 12V x 2

2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line 1.6T: driving with Android Auto navigation


Apps = Pandora radio; HD Real time traffic, HD Weather radar;

Subscriptions: Sirius XM radio (90 days trial), BlueLink telematics & remote access

    • +1 Deep lower front center stack wireless device storage;
    • -1 No 2nd Row electronics power source
    • -1 This base infotainment setup lacks SMS messaging

HOW MUCH: $25,260 = as tested 2021 Hyundai Elantra N-Line

WHAT’S MISSING: Pliable cabin plastics; Front seat back aft pockets; Potential for all-wheel drive?

ANY COMPETITION: Honda Civic Si: +1 build quality, sporty cockpit; Volkswagen Jetta GLI: +1 Solid Teutonic build (in Mexico), digital cockpit, electronic adjust dampers

BOTTOM LINE: Stylish four door workaround for very warm five door sport compact hatchback absence.

An automotive enthusiast since an orange toy VW Beetle ended up in his playpen and following him everywhere, George Straton has been chief editor at ChicagoNow.com/Drive-He-Said automotive lifestyle blog since 2010. In 2017 George established Roadblazing.com, dedicated to accurate automotive reviews, news and road trip stories. George is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Phoenix Automotive Press Association. George also happens to be an attorney and Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers fan. Present ride: 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo AWD Hatchback.

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