Hyundai as a brand has been on the up in the last decade, and together with its sister brands Kia and Genesis, have been slowly carving their own space and building a customer base across all price brackets. Hyundai’s N division is run by ex-BMW M division head, Albert Biermann, who has been key to the development of fun and affordable vehicles. Just like BMW’s M performance models and Audi’s S line of vehicles, Hyundai’s N-line models serve as a stepping stone to the full performance N models. The Sonata N-line unlike other N-line models; Kona N-line and Tucson N-line which are cosmetic and appearance packages, is closer to the full N model. The Sonata N line wants to give customers a package that’s not only sporty and comfortable but also affordable.
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
The vehicle is powered by a 2.5 liter turbocharged inline four cylinder engine that produces 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to an automatic eight speed dual clutch transmission powering the front wheels. The engine delivers it’s punch down low, giving unsuspecting drivers a nice shove and It reaches 60 mph in an impressive 5.3 seconds.
The dampers have been tuned and are significantly stiffer than the standard car’s. This virtually eliminates body roll, and paired with the sharp steering, give surprising agility. The suspension still retains some softness as it must also be comfortable to drive, walking a fine line between comfort and performance. Most irregularities are dealt with a mild jolt, with no residual bouncing motions.
The dual clutch transmission is controlled through a pair of paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. The dual clutch shifts okay but isn’t as smooth as I’d like. The steering is communicative and direct but is burdened by torque steer due to the front wheel drive layout, but is easily managed.
The Sonata N line’s EPA estimates aren’t bad as it gets 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway and an average of 27 mpg combined. But with the way the vehicle is offered and set up, driving it with gusto will get you closer to 20 mpg.
INTERIOR, COMFORT AND TECH
The interior is attractive and feels more expensive than the vehicle’s asking price. The interior is intuitive, and easy to figure out even for first time buyers. The touchscreen layout is simple and has quick responses. The onboard navigation is rather plain but the information on it is easily understood. Standard on the N-line is a 12 speaker Bose audio system which is clear and punchy. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, and there are multiple ports and outlets for connection and charging on the go.
The slightly swooping rear design means passengers will have to duck in and out. Once inside, the cabin offers tons of both head and leg room even for six feet and above passengers. Bottom seat anchors are easy to find, while lifting up the headrest gives you access to the top tether points, making fitting a child seat an easy feat. The trunk at 16 cubic feet is one of the largest in class, and is completed by in cabin storage such as the large door pockets, and a sizable bin below the climate control cluster.
If it weren’t for the existence of vehicles like the Mazda 6, and the Kia Stinger, the Sonata N-line would be the best choice for a quick and fun midsize sedan. Overall the package it offers is very competent in terms of value for money and fun factor. The vehicle is capable dynamically, has a great interior and comes with Hyundai’s extensive warranty coverage, what’s not to love from such a package.