Auto123 brings you a test drive of the two sharpest new Hyundais around right now. We recently drove the Elantra N and Kona N at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
See also: A day of fun with the Hyundai team (since 2013!)
Bowmanville, ON – Like any manufacturer these days, Hyundai sees its future as electrified. Of course, the term ‘future’ isn’t entirely accurate: its popular electric Ioniq 5 is already on our roads.
However, Hyundai is far from forgetting internal combustion by competing in high-level racing and continuing to offer affordable performance models that are designed for driving pleasure above all else, even if electrification and autonomous driving are the talk of the town. everybody.
While the racing and performance Hyundais are each of a slightly different breed, they both fall under the N banner, and Hyundai is convinced that the N brand will be a mainstay in its portfolio going forward, as will the Ioniq range. .
To show us what it’s all about, Hyundai Canada had booked the CTMP (for Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, or “Mosport” for the insiders) complex in suburban Toronto, and let us loose behind the wheel of the latest two N-badged models. : Elantra N sedan (MSRP: $39,653) and Kona N compact crossover (MSRP: $42,554).
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Finally, “dropped” is perhaps an exaggeration, as each of us was paired with an experienced driving instructor. Just one lap with one of them will show you how far, or close, you can get to circuit driving.
Both are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that develops 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. One of them can be equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, the other with only this automated option. You can probably tell which is which judging by their body styles, but if not, I’ll say this: For all their differences on the surface, they’re somewhat similar underneath.
They both get all sorts of special body additions that their big brothers, including the N-Line variants of each model, don’t. The Elantra N is the only model in the lineup to receive two very large exhaust pipes and a large rear spoiler, while the Kona N receives its own spoiler, special 19-inch wheels, and a host of other exterior trim items to help to differentiate it from other Kona models.
Inside each model, you’ll find powder blue accents (that color is the N brand’s calling card), like the dual driving mode selector buttons, seat stitching and gear shifter accents. . The Elantra N is equipped with sport bucket seats that hug your ribs like they would in a real sports car. The Kona’s seats are a little less aggressive, but they are an improvement over the regular models. And when you’re navigating down a path like this, you need all the help you can get.
Speaking of help, one of the main differences between the two models is the choice of tires. The Elantra’s summer Michelins have a lot more grip than the Kona’s four-season Pirellis. That goes without saying, because with its all-wheel drive and more familiar body style, the Kona, even in N trim, is the one most likely to be driven in rough conditions.
On the track, these tires, along with the Kona’s higher center of gravity, mean you’ll have more body roll in corners, and since you sit higher than the Elantra, handling will be less impressive than the Elantra. sedan.
As it turns out, however, there are plenty of things you can do as a driver to offset these effects, or even use them to your advantage. Not to mention the 4WD system, which can distribute the power and help you stabilize and get out of certain situations.
The Mosport track is a fast circuit with many hills and long multi-lane corners that test the limits of any car. Ask a race car driver and they’ll tell you that some of the downhill switchbacks are, in fact, some of the most intimidating corners in North America.
On the Kona, that means if you lose your apex and are forced to adjust the steering or apply the brakes in the turn, the suspension height and super-sharp steering rack will throw the chassis out of balance and lead to scenarios complicated.
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