Update: A Hyundai spokesperson confirmed the Elantra N is legal for sale in all U.S. states. Here is the official statement from the automaker:
"Hyundai N vehicles as sold fully comply with Federal regulations and are legal for sale and street use in all U.S. states. Hyundai is aware of this incident and is working directly with the customer to help resolve the issue."
Like many new vehicles, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N offers several different drive modes. One of them is N mode which, among other things, makes the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine sound a bit more lively. Apparently, it's too lively for a California police officer and officials at a state testing facility. Now, the owner can't drive his Elantra N until the problem is fixed, but since it's new and allegedly stock, there's nothing to fix.
The situation is explained both in a Reddit post and a video shared by the ENtense YouTube channel. In short, this driver was pulled over by a California motor officer due to backfiring noises coming from the car, a 2022 Hyundai Elantra N. The driver explained the car was stock and offered to pop the hood, but the officer declined. Instead, he told the driver his registration would be suspended and a state rep would send him "back to the dealer; the dealer has to remove the track options, you have to pay for it, it's about $4,000."
Gallery: 2022 Hyundai Elantra N
Later in the conversation, the officer bumps that figure to $7,000. It's unknown how the officer arrived at these numbers, but he then advised the driver that he could sue the dealer for the money, saying dealership representatives should tell the driver that driving in track mode isn't allowed and he could "get [his] $4,000, $5,000 back." The registration was suspended on the spot, and according to the video, the officer tried to suspend the driver's license as well. Apparently, that was countermanded by state officials as not being allowed.
But wait, there's more.
The owner of this Elantra N took the car to an inspection station, and was allegedly told it had to be tested in the vehicle's loudest mode. In this instance, it was tested in Sport mode and still failed the sound test, at which point the owner was told to take it back to the dealership and have it returned to stock ... which it already was.
The dealership confirmed as much, but since no work was done, the Elantra N can't be tested again. And since it can't be tested, it can't be driven. The video and Reddit thread suggests the inspection station conducted the test incorrectly, forcing the car into a louder mode instead of its default setting.
This isn't the first time we've seen bizarre situations regarding vehicle noise levels in California. In 2021, Porsche was forced to stop selling manual-transmission versions of the 911 GT3 because it was too loud, but the same car with the PDK gearbox was fine. That situation was ultimately resolved rather quickly, but in this instance, it's been several weeks and as far as we know, the Elantra N is still sidelined.
We've contacted Hyundai seeking comment on the situation, as we've heard nothing about new Elantra N sales being barred in California. Presumably, if Hyundai is allowed to sell the car there, it must pass existing state regulations.