The newest out in town is the Hyundai Sonata N which obviously sport some really great improvements over the previous gen. Hyundai in fact bragged this to being a high-performance sedan with the “N” naming representing “No Seep” or for its Namyang proving ground in Korea and Germany’s Nürburgring.
The Sonata N won’t be the first to carry this naming as the company had worked on a number of vehicles since 2018 which includes the Veloster and the Elantra N line that is expected to go on sale later on this year as well as other three SUVs which will all be released pretty soon.
One unique thing about Hyundai since the beginning is the company’s design aesthetics as well as high-end engineering on its cars which are amazing in general for an affordable Korea automaker.
The enters the Sonata N which can be assumed to being one of the most high-performance front-wheel-drive sedan we’ve seen in a long time. With the higher-end performance model already on sale, this might be a good way by which the brand is looking on to steal customers away from its competitors in the mid-sized sedan market.
Great results were gotten from this vehicle during a drive around on test tracks which showed it’s the kind of ride that’ll make you smile eventually when ridden well enough.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N comes powered with a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine which is the type found on the Genesis G80 and the GV80 as well as the Kia K5 GT.
It’s capacity in the Sonata N is immense as it’s able to chunk out a massive 290 horsepower at about 5800 RPM with a 311 pound-feet of torque at about 1650 RPM and that is about 99 more horsepower with 130 pound-feet of torque than the base-line Hyundai Sonata that isn’t cranked up for big performance as this model.
This improved performance was achieved through the integration of the car’s exhaust manifold into the cylinder head then lowered the compression ration from 13.0:1 to just 10.5:1 before tossing in a turbocharger.
There is also the inclusion of an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, a gearbox which is made by the Korea automaker with wet-clutch pack that is properly responsive and able to shift smoothly and quickly.
Do also note that the first four gears are well spaced and matches the engine’s torque curve which is high and flat to 4000 RPM. There’s some serious midrange power here, and the big four-cylinder pulls well to 6250 RPM.
Now coming to the speed part of the Sonata N, Hyundai needed to make this a beast and that demanded the development of a launch-control program which reduces the car’s 0 to 60 MPH range.
On paper, the launch control optimizes acceleration but then there is also the inconsistent results due to a drop in the turbo boost. Achieving the highest speed possible might require computer assistance which could spiral the car from 0 to 60 under 5.0 seconds and 13.6 seconds for 105 MPH through the quarter-mile.
Other values of the Sonata N line is the fact that its one of the fastest front-drive family sedan with its results beating the Honda Accord 2.0T or the Camry TRD to 60 MPH by 0.4 and 0.6 seconds respectively.
This hot Sonata even matches the times set by the now-defunct Ford Fusion Sport, which weighed considerably more than the Hyundai yet employed all-wheel drive and a 325-hp twin-turbo V-6.
Still on the speed and performance of the vehicle, the speed dropping even though its meant to be boosted by its software was later found out to being a glitch which alters the performance of the car as its able to limit the torque if too much brake pressure is applied during launch starts.
The glitch found on the pre-production unit used for the test drive is said to be recalibrated for the production units when the time comes.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to this Hyundai’s newfound power. It’s been a while since we’ve complained about torque steer, but heavy applications of throttle are felt through the Hyundai’s steering. It doesn’t turn the clock back 20 years, changing lanes on its own at the hit like a supercharged Pontiac Bonneville SSEi—not even close—but you’ll know you bought a front-wheel-drive car every time you put your foot down.
Another thing worth noting is the significantly stiffer powertrain mounts, firmer dampers and even thicker anti-roll bars which makes the driving experience sporty and in fact comfortable with a great quality steering look and feel.
The Sonata N is usually at is best when on a straight and open sections while tight corners might be a little complicated to maneuver.
There is also the inclusion of a bigger 14.6-inch front brake rotor with a 12.8-inch rear rotor which is able to push the car to a strong 152-foot stop from 70mph with a reassuring firm pedal system that makes journey super interesting when stepping on it.
From the inside, there is the four-spoke unit steering wheel with a push-button shifter which is prominent ton the regular Sonata. The Sonata N is meant to be a slightly upgraded model making the interior equipped with leather and suede finishes while also having features like a standard digital gauge cluster which shows simple dial dials as well as a slightly big 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bose premium audio system and of course a panoramic sunroof with digital keys that’s can allow you turn your smartphone into your car key.
In terms of the pricing, it starts with a base price of about US$34,195 which makes it pricier than the others and its front-wheel-drive experience is just immense.