The 2020 Hyundai Sonata is quite the departure from the model that it replaces. Dramatic styling and a new platform underpinning the car are part of the package, as well as a future performance variant – just don’t hold your breath for a Sonata N halo car.
During our first drive of the production-ready Sonata today, Hyundai product planners confirmed the upcoming Sonata N-Line model, and in the process extinguished the possibility of a fully-leaded Sonata N. To clarify, In Hyundai’s world an N model (like the Veloster N) is the ultimate performance variant, meant to be used on-track, where an N-Line isn’t dialed-up quite as much. When asked about whether or not a range-topping Sonata N is a possibility, a product planner replied, “I don’t see it happening in the future; that’s not our intention with the Sonata.”
Instead, the performance mantle will be carried by the Sonata N-Line, which will go on sale next fall. In fact, we sampled an early prototype model today, still wearing camouflage during our event. And though we can’t yet talk about how it drives, Hyundai confirmed some of the car’s specs.
The Sonata N-Line will use a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, making 290 horsepower (216 Kilowatts) and 310 pound-feet of torque. The engine pairs to an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission – the same unit that will soon be offered on the Veloster N hot hatchback. This powertrain is exclusive to the Sonata N-Line, at least for the foreseeable future. You can also see from the photos that N-Line features a quad exhaust layout, and wears bigger 19-inch wheels (the standard car wears 18s). However, the car does not feature a limited-slip differential or all-wheel drive. Power is sent to the front wheels only, with active torque vectoring.
Hyundai is clearly serious about bringing more cache to the N nameplate, maybe even working on a production-ready mid-engine car in the not-too-distant future. The Sonata N-Line is very likely the starting point for several upcoming N-Line models. But because we know how great a full N variant can be to drive – we love you, Veloster N – we can’t help but mourn what could’ve been with a Sonata N.
Gallery: Hyundai Sonata N-Line Prototype