Here’s Why The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Is The Best FWD Performance Car You Can Buy

The Korean compact performance sedan has a lot going for it, as an enthusiast proposition, and it may be better than the Civic Type-R

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While the front-wheel-drive sports car has largely died, front-wheel-drive performance sedans seem to be on the rise. And while there aren’t as many offerings as in the hot-hatchback segment, the recently introduced in 2021 Hyundai Elantra N manages to, not only give us a taste of old-school, FWD performance but also manages to outperform some of the best from the hot hatchback segment. There’s a lot to like about the Elantra N and we are here to tell you why it may be a better option than the iconic Honda Civic Type-R.

The Elantra is a better bang for the buck

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If you are looking at cars like the Elantra N or Civic Type-R, there’s a good chance you want to get the most for your money. While both cars promise a great driving experience, the Elantra N boasts very similar performance to the Civic Type-R while being significantly more affordable. The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N has a starting MSRP of $32,150. Meanwhile, at the time of writing this, Honda has not yet announced official prices for the 2023 Honda Civic Type-R, but given the outgoing model’s pricing, we expect it to start around $40,000.

While comfort, probably, isn’t at the top of your list if you are considering an Elantra N or a Civic Type-R, it’s worth noting that sedans are generally considered to be more comfortable and rigid. This is due to the extra structural elements at the rear of the car and the fact that the passenger compartment is isolated from the cargo area. In theory, the Elantra N should also have more cargo space due to it being a sedan and having a trunk.

While we don’t know how much cargo space the 2023 Civic Type-R has, we know that the regular version of the car packs a very generous, for a hatchback, 15.8 cubic-feet (449 liters). With that said, we don’t know whether the Type-R would features slightly less than that due to extra structural rigidity like the Elantra N, which has the same 14.2 cubic feet (402-liter) cargo capacity as the regular car.

Severely underrated

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The Hyundai Elantra N is down on power compared to the Civic Type-R, but that’s just on paper. We already know that for 2023, the Honda Civic Type-R will receive a modest bump in power to 326 horsepower (240 kilowatts) and 310 pound-feet (421 Nm), compared to the outgoing model’s 316 horsepower (232 kilowatts) and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm).

The Hyundai Elantra N, meanwhile, is rated at 276 horsepower (206 kilowatts) and 289 pound-feet (392 Nm) also from a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-four engine. This is where it gets interesting. A company called SIXTH Element Engineering put a manual and a DCT-equipped Hyundai Elantra N on the dyno. The results were 276 horsepower (280 with NGS) and 289 pound-feet (392 Nm) to the wheels for the car with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic and 261 horsepower and 277 pound-feet (376 Nm) to the wheels for the car equipped with a six-speed manual.

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Interestingly enough, the Kona N, which has the same engine, puts down 276 wheel horsepower and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm). After calculating for drivetrain loss on a front-wheel-drive platform, the Elantra N’s actual power output is 308 to 336 horsepower and close to 310 pound-feet (422 Nm) to the crankshaft. As for why the manual car has a lower power rating, it runs on a lower boost (2 psi lower) than DCT-equipped models.

In terms of 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) times, both cars are all over the place. Having 300 or more horsepower going to the front wheels tends to throw all consistency out the window. The Hyundai Elantra N with a six-speed manual can manage a time of 5.1 seconds while the Civic Type-R takes 5.2 seconds. We have seen a time of 4.8 seconds being quoted for the Type-R, but we are yet to see someone manage it. The 2023 mode is expected to come closer to the sub-five-second mark.

The German connection

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It’s a well-known fact that Hyundai managed to recruit some impressive talent in order to spawn its epic, N performance models. Albert Biermann was the former head of BMW’s M division and responsible for some of the best performance versions of BMW cars ever made, like the M3 E46. The natural, alphabetical progression from M to N was achieved in 2015, when Biermann headed Hyundai’s research and development department, and brought 30 years of experience with him from BMW M cars.

Among Hyundai N’s latest creation under Biermann’s leadership is the Hyundai Elantra N. Initially, many believed that “N” stood for Nurburgring. In reality, it stands for Namyang, which is home to Hyundai’s R&D center, in Korea. The iconic German racetrack, however, is still involved as that’s where Hyundai’s Technical center is located and also where performance models from the N lineup are being refined.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Dim's fascination with cars began when he was just six. Born into a family of car enthusiasts and racing drivers, he started learning basic mechanics and driving from an early age. While he loves writing for any car, Dim is most interested in exploring obscure and forgotten cars as well as finding the best deals on the enthusiast car market. His passion took him to car restoration in the Malta Classic Car Museum, where he briefly worked on a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Junior. In Malta, he also graduated Media and Communications, which further improved his skills as an automotive journalist. Dim is always ready to get behind the wheel of any car and tell you all about it later.  Read full bio
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