2022 Hyundai Sonata N Line new car reviews

We didn't sneak in a few laps, did we? (No, never.)

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J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

We hadn’t planned to track test the Sonata N Line. Usually a car like this, sporty though it is, doesn’t really warrant a special trip to our test facility and the manpower required for a proper track test. But on the same day we were at the Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park testing the Mk8 VW GTI, we had the Sonata N Line there as a support vehicle, so, you know, why not?

Why not, indeed, because the Sonata really impressed both on the drive to and from the FIRM, and, somewhat startingly, on the track itself.

While it certainly felt like a midsize sedan–all that mass and size didn’t suddenly disappear–it just felt composed and capable well beyond expectations.

In fact, it felt far more like a BMW M car than I expected, which in hindsight I suppose is no surprise since Hyundai poached former M boss Albert Biermann to head up their N division. His touch really shows in a sedan capable of operating at a much higher level in demanding conditions than you first give it credit for. The Sonata N Line was able to come within a couple seconds of the Mk8 GTI, and given it was on far less grippy tires and a car not designed primarily with a racetrack in mind, that’s pretty impressive.

Ultimately this is a sedan built to carry passengers in comfort, not set lap times, so the main limiting factor in its track performance was absolute grip. Not that it felt clumsy in the corners. Far from it, as a matter of fact. The suspension tuning provided amazing feedback, and let you wring 100% of the performance out of the chassis and all-season tires that was available.

Hyundai claims 290 horsepower from the 2.5-liter turbo four, but it feels like more. Perhaps because of the larger displacement than the usual 2.0-liter turbo four cylinders that usually power this class of cars, or maybe because of well-chosen ratios in the eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission, but the climbing thrust curve in any gear is exhilarating.

Most impressive, however, are the brakes. More powerful than they have any right to be, with exceptional feel and release characteristics, Hyundai engineers clearly put a lot of time into the personality of these brakes, and it shows. They just feel endless, giving an impression of power and safety, even if you aren’t using them to bleed off the copious speed you’ve gathered since the previous corner exit.

The rest of the car is, well, typical Hyundai, which is to say pretty excellent. I didn’t love the seats, but I’ll never really fault a car too much for seats because every butt has its own particular tastes. Suffice to say if you have short legs and wide shoulders, maybe don’t buy one sight unseen before a test sit.

And speaking of buying, there’s actually a couple at local dealers stickering out with out-the-door prices around $37,500. That’s fairly nuts for a car with this kind of capability. If you’re looking for something with a M badge, you might be surprised to take a trip one letter up the alphabet and give this thing a look.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Can I just second what JG said, although I liked the seats?

What he said about the power building is spot-on. Maybe this is a bit of a throwback to some of the largest-displacement turbo engines from just a few years back.

Like, remember how an STi felt so much stronger than just a WRX? Like that.

The Sonata is a right-sized sedan and a worthy alternative to the usual suspects from Japan. It’s quiet, comfortable and looks good.

My biggest concern: What’s the future holding for these sedans?

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Comments
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GTwannaB
GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/14/22 9:48 p.m.

That car looks good. 

Lsxus
Lsxus New Reader
7/15/22 7:58 a.m.

How did the lack of a LSD do on the track? Any inside wheel spin powering out of corners?

kevinatfms
kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/15/22 8:14 a.m.

At first i was hating the looks of the new Sonata/Elantra cars but with the N-line and N they are starting to grow on me. The wheels are too busy but that is easily remedied.

290hp sounds fun.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
7/15/22 9:34 a.m.
Lsxus said:

How did the lack of an LSD do on the track? Any inside wheel spin powering out of corners?

Not really. It feels like there's some e-diff action going on, but it's pretty transparent to the experience. 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
7/15/22 9:40 a.m.
kevinatfms said:

At first i was hating the looks of the new Sonata/Elantra cars but with the N-line and N they are starting to grow on me. The wheels are too busy but that is easily remedied.

290hp sounds fun.

I bet if you strapped it to a dyno it would throw those 290hp to the wheels, too. It sure feels stronger than that.

I have a feeling people are going to sleep on these cars as legitimate alternatives to euro bahn-burner sedans, and they're going to sit on dealer lots, and in 10 years they'll be bringing six figures on BaT.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
7/15/22 10:16 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

I hope they are like some of the older bargains where they sell and people use them like appliances and then you can buy one for 30% of oriinal price in 5 years

 

Dead-Sled (ha!)
Dead-Sled (ha!) SuperDork
7/15/22 6:41 p.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

Same here but I have noticed KDM holding onto their value lately. Not like the days of yore where we could scoop them up for cheap. 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/15/22 6:50 p.m.

Kind of a shame that the Sonatas are going away. My son loves his and it only has the NA 2.5

kevinatfms
kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/18/22 8:54 a.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
kevinatfms said:

At first i was hating the looks of the new Sonata/Elantra cars but with the N-line and N they are starting to grow on me. The wheels are too busy but that is easily remedied.

290hp sounds fun.

I bet if you strapped it to a dyno it would throw those 290hp to the wheels, too. It sure feels stronger than that.

I have a feeling people are going to sleep on these cars as legitimate alternatives to euro bahn-burner sedans, and they're going to sit on dealer lots, and in 10 years they'll be bringing six figures on BaT.

Im still pissed that companies like Cobb, Burger and others wont take the leap to bring tuning software to the Hynundai/Kia lineup. 

Seems like there is one single company making the effort and i think its still R&R the ECU for a reflash. 

Lsxus
Lsxus New Reader
7/18/22 10:10 a.m.

In reply to kevinatfms :

https://burgertuning.com/collections/kia-hyundai/products/jb4-for-kia-hyundai-2?variant=40252914958510

 

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
7/18/22 10:14 a.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
kevinatfms said:

At first i was hating the looks of the new Sonata/Elantra cars but with the N-line and N they are starting to grow on me. The wheels are too busy but that is easily remedied.

290hp sounds fun.

I bet if you strapped it to a dyno it would throw those 290hp to the wheels, too. It sure feels stronger than that.

I have a feeling people are going to sleep on these cars as legitimate alternatives to euro bahn-burner sedans, and they're going to sit on dealer lots, and in 10 years they'll be bringing six figures on BaT.

As long as they stay front wheel drive, I don't really consider them legitimate alternatives to the Euro sedans. I think that title goes to the smallest Genesis with the turbo V6. It is nice to see Hyundai really throwing R&D money at enthusiast cars though.

calteg
calteg SuperDork
7/18/22 5:34 p.m.

In reply to kevinatfms :

A lot of tuning companies are under the EPA microscope. A lot of the earlier turbo Hyundai/Kia cars also had inverse correlations between more boost/engine longevity.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
7/18/22 5:55 p.m.
bobzilla said:

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

I hope they are like some of the older bargains where they sell and people use them like appliances and then you can buy one for 30% of oriinal price in 5 years

 

I think older Sonata Turbos are pretty cheap.  You can get one with very similar specs from 2012.  Slightly less power, slightly less weight.  Probably a much worse transmission though.

Hyundai seems to continue doing all the right things to all the wrong cars.

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