Monday, January 24, 2022
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2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line (car review)

SOMETIMES, road testing a car is a genuinely personal experience that excites and captures one’s imagination. Spending time with the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line is exactly such an occasion.

As a writer and road tester, I am not ashamed to say that I am getting older, and that means my perspective on certain things are changing, and so are my likes and dislikes. One of those things is what I want from a car.

While I acknowledge the fact that now I do want more comfort and luxuries, I’m not ready to let go of my inner boy racer. If this sounds all too familiar, let me tell you some more about the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line.

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I first saw this car at Hyundai headquarters some time last year, it was I think, a pre-production model doing some Australian testing and I probably saw more of it than Hyundai would have wanted me to.

It was black in colour, and it’s striking design instantly caught my eye with its red accents and large alloy wheels. I had to know what it was. After some googling on my Metro ride home, I worked it out.

A quick message to my boss simply stating, “When the new Sonata is available for test, it’s mine!” was what followed. And here we are, behind the wheel of a car that offers some fun and power to play with when the mood arises.

Packing a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine producing 213kW of power and 422Nm of torque driven through the front wheels, means fun can be open to interpretation. That much power through the front tyres makes you instantly think torque steer.

While it is evident, Hyundai have done a pretty good job of managing this with electronic assists. Turn them off however, and you better have your wits about you because you are totally on your own.

When you do gain traction, the Sonata N Line accelerates hard and relentlessly, its fat wave of torque (422Nm available between 1,650–4,000rpm) helping to keep you pinned back in the seat.

All of that power is transferred through a wet friction, 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which is smooth and responsive in its operation.

Should you find the right road and decide to explore the limits of the Sonata N Line’s handling capabilities, you will, like yours truly, be surprised to learn that the level of grip available is quite impressive.

Being mainly front biased in its handling, the weight and feel through the steering wheel gives you plenty of confidence to push on and lean into those 245/40 tyres, wrapped around 19×8 inch N Line alloy wheels.

With the boy racer satisfied, you’ll be pleased to know that the performance aspects of the Sonata N Line aren’t the end of the story. The practical side of the badge that we have come to expect is still there in spades.

You can drive the Sonata N Line without ever knowing of its performance capabilities and be quite content in having a luxurious sedan. It feels refined and comfortable thanks to its Suede and Nappa Leather sports seats.

But the hints of its sporting nature are still there, in the ‘N’ performance logo embossed in the backrests and contrasting red stitching throughout the well-appointed interior. There is a massive 510-litres of boot space too, although it sits atop a space saver spare.

Other highlights include rear window sunshades built into the passenger rear doors, a heated sports leather steering wheel and panoramic glass sunroof. The rest of the interior is packed with innovative tech features that further enhance the excitement levels.

An excellent colour head-up display helps deliver key information to the driver without becoming distracting, while the 12.3-inch supervision digital cluster is crystal clear and beautifully presented.

Responding to each driving mode, the display changes accordingly and echoes the sentiments of each of those modes. Also found within the cluster is one of our favourite features in new cars, blind spot view monitor.

When either indicator is activated, the corresponding dial in the cluster switches to a video feed showing what is hiding in your blind spot, making changing lanes, or turning into side streets worry-free.

A 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes accessing all your infotainment needs a breeze. Finding your current podcast or Spotify playlist is just a few screen taps away and sound great through the 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.

Hyundai’s excellent suite of safety systems monitors and keeps you well informed of any pending dangers or hazards, quite literally, all around you. From forward collision avoidance assist with junction turning, to safe exit assist and surround view monitor.

But we also need to talk about the elephant in the room; the styling. Personally, I love it. It’s one of the things that made the Sonata N Line stand out to me straight away, because it’s different.

As we all know, different isn’t always a good thing, but I think it works. It’s bold, striking and understated all at the same time. There is nothing else on the road with the same light signature either, which is kinda cool.

Obviously, the hidden LED daytime driving lights will divide opinion but again, I like them. The coupe-like silhouette flows to the low and wide rear end, with its body-width rear tail light again, providing a unique light signature from behind as well.

There is no mistaking the Sonata N Line on the road at night either, that’s for sure. Priced from $55,654 drive away, that price may strike you as steep if you base it on what the Sonata used to cost.

This time round however, there is only one Sonata model, and it is a completely new premium version at that. The trick is to think of the new N Line as the most advanced and accomplished Sonata ever offered, because it is.

Trust us, five minutes behind the wheel proves this theory easily. It’s backed by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and various ownership benefits, including a lifetime service plan, roadside support plan and satellite navigation update plan.

I love the Sonata N Line and in fact, this will probably be my next vehicle purchase when the time comes. If I could afford to go and buy a new one right now, I would. Without question, I can’t give any other better recommendation than that.

You can go and check out the new Sonata on the Hyundai Australia website.

Our test vehicle was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line, contact your local Hyundai dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
9
Exterior styling
9
Interior look and feel
8.5
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
8.5
Value for money
8.5

SUMMARY

Pros - striking looks; great dynamics; quality interior.
Cons - polarising looks; traction can be an issue; this writer doesn't own one.
Josh Muggleton
Josh Muggleton has a love of cars that began at a young age and has been a part of his life ever since. So much so that his passion for all things automotive turned into a life as a racing car driver and driving instructor.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks Josh. Quoting you:

    “ That much power through the front tyres makes you instantly think torque steer.”

    My thoughts exactly. Both Hyundai and Kia know of the link between rear wheel drive and performance cars. That’s why they built the G70 and Stinger.

    So “electronic assists” manage torque steer? What’s the difference between “ electronic assists” and “electronic crippling” of torque?

    Mid $50k’s for this car? I think I’d rather buy a 330S Stinger with RWD and LSD.

    How hard would it be for Hyundai to add AWD to this car?

    There’s a steady stream of Car Co’s stating that they go all electric in the near future. Until then, how hard would it be to add an electric motor to the rear axle whilst keeping the 422nm applied to the front wheels?

    CK-2019 (showing my bias I know)

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