For too long, Hyundai's popular compact front-wheel-drive Elantra sedan has overshadowed its functional but lesser hyped sibling, the Elantra GT, a version substituting a versatile wagon structure in place of the conventional trunk. Not long ago, Elantra GT added a 'Sport' trim better differentiating its merits, but alas, its sedan stablemate continued grabbing the limelight.
Enter the 2019 Elantra GT 'N line,' a trim which premiered earlier this January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Elantra's GT hatchback/wagon drew the lucky straw, representing Hyundai's first 'N line' creation, a sub set of Hyundai's fledgling 'N' performance brand. N line brings forth sporty design cues and refined chassis dynamics to Elantra GT. The 2018 model year marked the final appearance for Elantra GT Sport, as the GT N line grabs the vacated portfolio position.
Currently, the sole U.S. Hyundai offering 'N' high performance characteristics is the quirky, Veloster hatchback, sporting two passenger side doors and one driver side entry door. The high performance Veloster N made its debut a year-and-a-half ago at the January 2018 Detroit Auto show.
Elantra's base GT circa 2019 represents a virtual carryover in content and build from the previous year, with all-new N Line opportunity usurping the outgoing Sport trim as a notable exception. Underpinnings get based on a sixth-generation Elantra platform introduced a couple of years ago.
The Elantra GT wagon sits a slightly closer to the ground than conventional compact crossovers, enhancing performance characteristics. Wagon versions offer inherently better exterior visuals than sedan counterparts thanks to a raised back portion with an enhanced flair.
Within Hyundai's product lineup, Elantra situates between the subcompact Accent sedan and midsize Sonata. Both Elantra and Accent power exclusively via traditional internal combustion (IC) engines while Sonata in addition to an IC powertrain offers a self-charging gas-electric hybrid (no nightly plug-in required) as well as a plug-in electric hybrid.
Hyundai also markets the compact Ioniq, a quirky name aptly identifying a vehicle built from the ground up as an alternative powered vehicle with three distinct power sources built off varying degrees electric power; a self-charging gas electric hybrid, plug-in electric hybrid or an all-electric version (available only in select coastal states for now).
What's provided with an N Line investment? For starters, an upgraded sports-tuned suspension teams with a multi-link rear suspension. Plus N Line's standard manual transmission provides driver involvement hard to match from the optional yet technically advanced seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Exterior N Line nuances include larger 18-inch alloy wheels and specific front and rear fascias. Rivals include Toyota's compact Corolla hatchback, Volkswagen's Golf and Mazda3.
Elantra N line pays forward with the identical propulsion unit utilized in the outgoing 2018 Elantra GT Sport, a 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder delivering 201 horses. This differs from the base Elantra GT which motivates via a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder delivering 161 horses and connects with a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
Inside, the Elantra GT N line's bucket seats include a leather nuances and heating element, bolsters including red stitching with power lumbar support and extendable cushions easing foot fatigue for longer-legged drivers. The manual tilt-and-telescope steering wheel includes N line specific leather wrapping while the manual transmission shifter includes an N Line logo. Another N line interior distinction: bright red trim surrounding arrow-head shaped air vents towards the ends of the dashboard.
Elantra U.S. sales impressively topped 200,000 in the 2018 calendar year reaching 200,415 and besting 2017's mark of 198,210. Elantra represents Hyundai's best-selling offering in the States, topping second-place finisher Tucson (a compact crossover) by more than 55,000 units. Hyundai bundles Elantra sedan and GT wagon sales figures together in publicly available sales releases, so gauging GT popularity (and N Line success going forward) gets problematic unless one hacks into central command.
Elantra GT N Line pricing starts at $23,300 for a six-speed manual and $24,400 with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Add $885 for destination. A conventional Elantra GT, with minimal changes from 2018, checks in at $20,450. If considering an N line, remember during trade-in time, N line distinctions will most likely fetch more dollars, helping even out the long-term $3,000 cash outlay from the original purchase. Plus, it's a distinct step up when considering the fun factor.
Compact dimensions are evident in row two with marginal leg room available with front buckets set at a comfy position for their respective riders. Even though promotional material claims three riders can squeeze in, row two is best left for two adults. Seatbacks manually fold flat onto seat cushions in 60/40 fashion, opening up opportunities for an expanded cargo region during weekend hauls to Home Depot. With seatbacks up, 24.9 cubic feet of cargo space awaits, a goodly amount handling luggage or groceries, decent for a wagon of this ilk. A nice extra not always available in 2019, a temporary spare tire stowed under the flat floor.
The Elantra GT N line includes a power lifting hatch (with wiper) and dual outboard lower exhausts. Dark framing surrounds side door windows. The inside hatch region includes an easily removable black privacy cover, protecting valuables from peering public eyes when in use. Push-button electronic start is standard with the illuminated circle located right of the three-spoke steering column.
The easy-glance instrument panel includes two circular analog gauges with small quarter-circle inserts (left-side temperature gauge, right-side speedometer) along the bottom and a 4.2-inch multi-panel digital window in between. Panels rotate via a button on the steering wheel face, also home to secondary auto functions (station preset and audio) and cruise control.
The eight-inch multi-function four-color display is not an in-dash variety, but its flat design with touch-sensitive screen jets up above the central dashboard. Well-marked push buttons along the frame work in concert with touch-screen icons. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, popular tech extras allow Smartphone interaction and voice recognition hookup with the flat screen.
As with all new Hyundai offerings sold in America, Elantra GT N Line includes a 10-year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, one of the longest durations available in North America. Also, most Chicagoland dealerships now offer "Hyundai Assurance."
This program, designed to destress and streamline the car-purchasing experience, includes an online tutorial to check trade-in values and pre-qualify for financing. Scheduling a test drive before visiting the dealership is also an option as is a three-day worry-free exchange.
2019 Elantra GT N Line
Price as tested: $24,185
Engine: 1.6-liter turbo four
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
Overall Length: 170.9 inches
Overall Width: 70.7 inches
Overall Height: 57.7 inches
Curb weight: 3,102 pounds
Powertrain warranty: 10 years/100,000 miles
Assembly: Ulsan, South Korea