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  5. 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Test Drive Review

Exterior view of the Hyundai Elantra N Line

The redesigned Hyundai Elantra has pushed the limits of vehicle design and technology for its class, and the model lineup has swelled to include several exciting new additions. While a  fuel-efficient hybrid is now available, enthusiasts will be more excited about a pair of performance-tuned versions. I've yet to experience the 286-horsepower Elantra N, my recent  test drive of the tamer 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line demonstrated it's aimed squarely at sport compact sedans like the Jetta GLI, Civic Si and Subaru WRX. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Exterior

Exterior view of the Hyundai Elantra N Line

Introduced for the 2021 model year, the seventh-generation Hyundai Elantra is already an extremely bold take on the compact sedan, and the N Line trim level takes that a step further with unique design elements. Up front, the aggressive fascia adds large air intakes on each side of the ultra-wide grille, while the rear end shows the most change. Outback, there's a decklid spoiler, a rear diffuser, dual exhaust outlets, and clear-lense taillights with black trim and a stylish full-width LED accent. The N Line is finished off with black beltline trim and mirrors, 18-inch wheels and N Line badging. 

These upgrades, along with the Elantra's hatchback-style profile, definitely give the N Line the a proper sport compact sedan vibe, and complement the car's lower and wider stance. Even in this tester's Fluid Metal (gray) paint job, it's amazing how the Elantra's sharp body creases catch light and play with shadows. The in-your-face design might not be for everyone, but this new Elantra doesn't go unnoticed.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Interior

Interior view of the Hyundai Elantra N Line

To go along with its chiseled exterior design, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra has an equally attractive interior, and on the N Line, Hyundai did just enough to back up the car's sportier intentions. These unique elements include cloth seats with leather bolsters, red accent stitching, black headliner, and alloy pedals. Plus, the large analog gauges have a red accent with a checkered flag motif. In place of the four-spoke steering wheel on other trim levels, the N Line gets an exclusive leather-wrapped steering wheel with a sporty three spoke design and tall paddle shifters.

This trim level also comes with a 4.2-inch digital information screen, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless smartphone charging, and a 60/40 split rear seat with center armrest. The only option added to this tester were the carpeted floor mats ($155). All trim levels come standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with dual USB ports.

The Elantra N Line might be geared toward enthusiasts, but that doesn't mean this compact sedan isn't comfortable. With larger dimensions than the previous Elantra, this new sedan carries mid-size classification from the EPA. A passenger volume of 99.4 cubic feet makes it roomier than rival sedans like the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Jetta, and even with its aggressively sloped roofline, the 2021 Elantra offers sufficient headroom for front and rear occupants. Also, the 14.2 cubic feet of cargo volume is sizable considering the short rear decklid. Overall fit and finish is remarkable for an entry-level compact car starting at under $20,000, and at least on the N Line model, the cabin materials are definitely a cut above. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Powertrain

Engine view of the Hyundai Elantra N Line

Stepping up from the Elantra's base 147-horsepower engine, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. If you want an Elantra with a manual gearbox, the N Line and N models are the only way to get that. But my tester was equipped with the optional $1,100 seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. 

This transmission provides a sportier driver experience in both automatic or manual modes, but it doesn't have the jerkiness of other DCTs. Not surprisingly, the increased performance leads to a slight drop in fuel economy, as the Elantra N Line has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway. In contrast, the base engine gets 33 city and 43 highway. All told, my tester averaged 33.9 mpg after a week of driving. 

My review of the 2021 Elantra Limited showed that this redesigned sedan is already "sportier and more engaging to drive" than its predecessor, and the N Line is even better. Up front, this version features 12-inch brake rotors (an inch larger in diameter than the lower trim levels), and instead of the torsion beam rear suspension used on the SE, SEL, and Limited trim levels, the N Line (as well as the Hybrid and Elantra N) uses a multi-link independent setup. The Elantra N Line it's surprisingly fun to drive, and there's a sporty exhaust note, plus a manual shift mode that lets drivers wring every last RPM out of the engine. 

Opting for the manual transmission equips the N Line with Goodyear Eagle F1 summer tires, but the DCT comes with Hankook all-season performance tires. Despite the increased performance capabilities, the N Line is still a smooth and quiet compact in normal driving. 

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Safety

Interior view of the Hyundai Elantra N Line

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line is rated with a 5-Star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All trim levels come standard with Forward Collision Avoidance with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Hyundai's innovative Safe Exit Warning.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Overall

Interior view of the Hyundai Elantra N Line

After our recent time with the N Line versions of the Elantra GT and Hyundai Sonata, I was looking forward to driving the all-new 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line, and this sport compact sedan did not disappoint. Splitting the difference between the base engine and the 276-hp Elantra N, the Elantra N Line is both fun and practical and, of course, it packs plenty of value. 

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is priced starting at $19,850, while the N Line has a base MSRP of $24,250. As it sits, this example was ready to hunt Civics and GTIs with an as-tested price of $26,350, which is a lot of fun and style for not a lot of money.

Jeffrey N. Ross | Oct 12, 2021

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, FWD


1.6L I4
201 hp, 195 lb-ft
Seven-speed dual-clutch



NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★

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