The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line backs sporty style with substance

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Hyundai | David Dewhurst Photography

We love the current Hyundai Sonata for its tech-per-dollar value and space-age styling. That said, it never raised the hair on our necks. Thankfully, Hyundai has the perfect antidote. Say hello to the spiced-up “N Line” Sonata. We’ve known this Sonata variant has been coming for a while, but we’re still excited to dive into the now-confirmed details.

This is more than just a sporty trim package and some pixie dust. Along with styling tweaks, the Sonata N Line packs a 290-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and brake and suspension upgrades to match. (For those counting, that’s a 99-hp upgrade over the base Sonata.) Naturally, since it’s a Hyundai, the N Line Sonata is incredibly affordable: including destination, it stickers at $34,194.

Hyundai Sonata N Line rear three quarter
Hyundai | David Dewhurst Photography

The new engine is based on the 2.5-liter, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder in the lower SE and SEL Sonatas. In the N Line version, it uses a turbocharger, a new cylinder head with integrated exhaust manifold, and unique internals to generate nearly 100 more ponies and 130 more lb-ft of torque.

An eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission handles gear-shifting duties. The gearbox—similar to the one now found in the Veloster N—also offers launch-control, rev-matching, and something Hyundai calls N Power Shift. Essentially, the last feature uses more aggressive upshifts to put maximum torque to the front wheels under aggressive throttle input (over 90 percent). N Power Shift mode will hold gears through corners to help with corner exit, and it’s less likely to mandate an upshift near the top of the rev range.

There’s a revised steering rack for sharper turn-in. Larger brake discs—13.2 inches and 12.8 inches, front and rear—help cope with the extra power. The folks at N have also breathed on the suspension; the rear roll bar is beefier and the rear springs and front roll bar are each five percent stiffer.

Keen observers will know you chose the spicy Sonata by the tailored body kit (though they may need some time to get used to the idea). The highlights include unique front and rear fascias, a rear spoiler, quad exhaust tips, gloss-black side mirrors, and N-unique 19-inch alloy wheels shod in 245/40 all-season tires. Stickier summer tires will run you an extra $200—by all means, spring for them.

Hyundai Sonata N Line Seats
Hyundai | David Dewhurst Photography

Inside, you’ll get N Line-specific front seats (which look exactly like the standard seats in the Veloster N) with Nappa Leather bolsters and suede inserts. Hyundai will also treat you to aluminum pedals and a leather-wrapped, sport-oriented steering wheel.

The Sonata N Line will be available at most dealerships this month. We’re happy to see Hyundai expanding its offerings and jumping into the performance sedan pool. If the base car is anything to judge by, the Sonata N Line will be a smart buy for those willing to evolve their perceptions of the South Korean brand.

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