The most powerful Sonata ever should be a decent performance bargain.
We first learned of the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line late last year, with the company promising 290 horsepower (216 kilowatts) and 311 pound-feet (422 newton-meters) from the sporty sedan. Now, with just a few weeks left before the N Line arrives in dealers, we know how much it’ll cost: The zippy Sonata will start at $33,200 with all-season tires or $33,400 with summer rubber, plus $995 destination.
That makes the N Line the second–most expensive model in the non-hybrid Sonata lineup, behind only the luxurious, $33,850 Limited. Justifying the price is the most powerful engine ever fitted to a Sonata – a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four, backed up by an eight-speed dual-wet-clutch transmission shared with the Veloster N (as well as the Kia K5 GT). The new engine is based on Hyundai’s existing naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four, enhanced with forced induction, revised engine internals, and improved cooling and thermal management.
Unlike the engine, the DCT is an all-new design. The clutches splash around in an oil bath, keeping them cooler and providing improved lubrication relative to a dry-clutch transmission. Hyundai N engineers developed the DCT in-house, giving it eight gears for improved efficiency and performance and tuning it for driving fun. A quicker steering ratio improves cornering response, as do firmer rear springs; thicker front and rear anti-roll bars; N-tuned dampers; and stiffer engine, transmission, and suspension mounts. Larger 13.6-inch front and 12.8-inch rear brakes keep everything under control.
The 2021 Sonata N Line also gets a set of 19-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear fascias, a rear spoiler, and an N dual exhaust with quad-exit tips. Inside, the front bucket seats have an N-specific design, wrapped in Nappa leather and Dinamica microfiber suede. Further justifying the N Line’s price is a standard panoramic power sunroof, keyless entry and start, LED interior and exterior lighting, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and more.
Honestly, the Sonata N Line seems like something of a bargain, offering tons of feature content and the performance specs we’d expect of an N-branded product. It’s a bit less powerful and more expensive than the Toyota Camry TRD – 301 hp (224 kW) and $32,185 – but it boasts way more torque and more luxury than the somewhat spartan Japanese sedan. It’s hard to fathom why someone might choose the more expensive, 180-hp (134-kW) Sonata Limited too, since the N Line seems to offer most of the luxury and convenience features with far more power.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line arrives “at most dealerships in November,” according to the company. Between the stellar Sonata Hybrid and this new, sporty model, Hyundai has both ends of the spectrum covered. If the N Line is as fun to drive as its spec chart suggests, it could be a great family sedan for folks with an enthusiastic bent.