Road Test Review – 2023 Hyundai Elantra N – Light Updates Keep This Hot Compact Ticking

The Hyundai Elantra N might not get as much attention in Hyundai showrooms as other members of the corporate team. But the sporty compact has managed to obtain a loyal following, and it now also has the distinction of being the only pure N model in Hyundai’s lineup (for now.) But does the 2023 Hyundai Elantra N retain its high amounts of sizzle even with the optional eight-speed automatic?


Elantra N Still Blurs Styling Lines, But We Love It Anyway

The exterior styling of the Elantra N builds on some of the unique features and design choices that help define the standard issue Elantra. The front fascia gets a blacked-out treatment that still causes it to clash vividly with the rest of the car. At the same time, we like the reworked front bumper and the tweaked grille that’s exclusive to the N model. The 2023 model carries over from 2022 with no changes and will serve as a vanguard for the refreshed 2024 version. This means that the rest of the exterior styling will follow a very familiar script with the dynamic Z-shaped design lines leading the eye to the red-tinged side skirts, N exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels, and a reworked rear diffuser with the trunk getting a small spoiler.

The Elantra N still competes with rivals like the Volkswagen Jetta GLI and the Honda Civic Si; however, the Elantra is in a very interesting place when it comes to comparing which one has the best suit of clothes. The Jetta is more refined looking, but the Hyundai does manage to stand out better than the Honda Civic, which ditched some of its anime-inspired angles for a more mature look that has the unfortunate side effect of making it blend into traffic (the yet-to-be-reviewed Type R model is excluded.) The Elantra N also has plenty of function backed into its funky design, with many of the add-ons either helping to improve aerodynamics or even shed a few pounds of excess weight. It’s certainly the best of both worlds, and while we still miss the departed Veloster and Kona N models, the Elantra N is a delightful compromise and will continue to be a tempting treat until the N treatment moves to the company’s EV offerings.


Elantra N’s Cockpit Dials In Fun and Comfort

Slip inside the Elantra N’s cockpit, and you’ll find that it too, carries over unchanged for 2023. The Elantra’s standard chairs are swapped out for heavily bolstered sport seats that have a small N logo that lights up during nighttime driving. The metal-covered pedals add to the look, while the 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster is paired with a matching 10.2-inch infotainment screen. The digital instrument cluster is configurable and while the infotainment screen does not have Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto it still allows owners to access various menus, including the N exclusive performance sub-menus to help access performance-related pages quickly.

The backseats are best left folded down to help expand the amount of cargo the Elantra N can swallow, but they can haul small children in a pinch, with larger adults finding space a bit cramped if they are asked to spend extended time back there. Automatic models like our example also get a power-operated sunroof, but that particular feature is exclusive to the automatic, with manual-equipped examples not getting the aforementioned feature. Interior quality is above average, but like the axed Veloster N and the Kona N, the Elantra N does have some cheap plastics scattered about with the chintzy appointments, a needed sacrifice to help cram in as much performance and electronic technology as possible into the car.


Turbocharged Elantra N Performance Puts A Smile On Anyone’s Face

Performance for the 2023 Hyundai Elantra N follows the same core script that we have seen in other N models, with our tester being powered by a 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Our tester was equipped with the N Grin Shift system (Hyundai speak for over-boost), which helps increase power temporarily to 286 hp. While the manual is still the preferred choice here, the eight-speed DCT automatic does make a commendable case for itself, with our car’s transmission delivering crisp shifts with very little gear hunting, even in spirited driving. Our tester managed to make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds with N Grin Shift mode activated with the exhaust note helping provide an auditory exclamation point.

Handling in our tester was also very sharp, with the Elantra’s long wheelbase also allowing our tester to have a very compliant ride even over some of Michigan’s roughest roads. The handling here (rather than the engine) is the Elantra’s strongest trump card, and you feel more confident as a driver as you spend more time getting used to the Elantra N’s sheer levels of grip while also learning to work within its limits. The manual version gets slightly better fuel economy but the automatic is still very efficient in the art of sipping gas, with models like our tester getting an EPA-rated 20/30/23 mpg in city/freeway/combined driving. Meanwhile, the manual version gets 22/31/25 mpg in the same categories.


Value Quotient

Pricing for the 2023 Hyundai Elantra N is simple and straight to the point, with a base model starting at $34,015. Our tester arrived with the optional $450 Performance Blue paintwork and the $ 1,500 eight-speed automatic DCT. That latter item doesn’t show up easily in Hyundai’s configurator, and prospective buyers looking to add the eight-speed to their purchase will have to work with their salesman to make sure it’s added to the build sheet. With options and the $1115 destination fee tacked on, our tester had a final as-tested price of $35,965. That’s still a good bargain in the segment, but we’ll admit that the manual-equipped model manages to slightly outshine the DCT when it comes to outright value. With the 2024 model entering dealerships very soon, we look forward to seeing if it can improve on some of the lingering flaws of the Elantar N while also enhancing some of the things that we love about it.