By Larry Lark, contributor
Sometimes it’s better to zig when the competition zags.
That’s what Hyundai did with the 2021 Sonata N Line, an expansion of the South Korean automakers’ mid-size sedan lineup.
Sonata’s N Line delivers pulse-quickening performance, racy exterior lines, and an attractive entry point into this seemingly shrinking market niche.
“The 2021 Sonata N Line will attract more customers to both the rock solid Sonata lineup and our increasingly popular N Line sub-brand,” SangYup Lee, Head of the Hyundai Global Design Center, said. Sonata N Line will appeal to customers who desire sporty styling in a sedan package.”
N Line is powered by Sonata’s new turbocharged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. It utilizes a different cylinder head, and unique internals to increase horsepower to 290 at 5,800 rpm and the torque to 311 lb.-ft. at 1,650-4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a new N eight-speed wet dual-Clutch automatic transmission.
Along with other updated features, such as “rev matching and launch control”, Sonata N Line is optimized to automatically sense driving styles and road conditions to optimize shift points. For example, the car will hold lower gears longer during performance driving for better acceleration out of corners. Conversely, if the driver is aggressively pushing the car on a winding road, the car will use the full range of available engine RPM to maximize performance.
Sonata is quick, composed, and responsive on the open road and moves through tight turns confidently and capably. A trip north to Bellingham and back on Chuckanut Drive allowed the Sonata N Line to shine.
The sedan seats up to five adults, with plentiful legroom in the back. Trunk storage is generous, and fuel economy even better. The Sonata averaged almost 32 miles per gallon in a week of mostly highway driving.
Based on Hyundai’s ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design identity, Sonata N Line’s exterior styling looks bold and athletic. Sonata’s N Line design elements are evident throughout, starting with the signature cascading grille, bold front fascia, three air intakes and N Line badging.
Sonata N Line’s side skirts and 19-inch alloy wheels provide an aggressive stance that suggests that fun is just around the corner—any corner. The dynamic side styling carries over to the taut rear end where a sleek black lower bumper, dual twin exhausts and N Line rear diffuser amplify the sport sedan’s ready and willing attitude.
My tester came with a ”Hampton Gray” matte coat of enamel that was polarizing. People either loved the look, or hated it. Count me in the former camp.
The interior design reinforces the dynamic feeling of the exterior with a high-tech flair that makes the inside of Sonata N Line every bit as dashing as the exterior. Dark chrome trim, signature N Line red stitching on the steering wheel and leather sport seats with side bolsters complete the performance-inspired interior.
Comfort and convenience features abound. Highlights include smart cruise control, Bose premium audio with 12 speakers and a nine-inch subwoofer, panoramic sunroof, rear-view camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and dual automatic climate control.
Completing the Sonata’s family car – sports car – personna, is a suite of safety features.
Hyundai’s advanced safety technology include blind-spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane follow and lane keeping assist, LED daytime running lights and a safe exit warning.
Base Price: $34,490
Price As Driven: $34,490
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.