Ride and handling
Stout turbo engine
Sunroof and advanced safety tech an expensive option
Tight rear seat legroom
Manual transmission affects fuel economy
2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line
For 2019, Hyundai has massaged its best-handling compact hatchback model by re-christening last year's GT Sport the GT N Line, at the same time, noting that the "N" stands for both "Nürburgring", where N Line models are tested, and the Korean manufacturer's "Namyang" R&D Center, Hyundai's main design and testing facility in Korea.
Aside from a new badge adorning the hatch, Hyundai has made a number of changes to differentiate the N Line GT from last year's GT Sport.
Both the front and rear fascias borrow design elements from the i30 N (Hyundai's Euro-spec hot hatch). Up front, the N Line has a lower front spoiler for improved aerodynamics, re-styled grille, and a horizontal LED fog light array. Along the flanks, the side-sill extensions have been eighty-sixed, while window moldings and rearview mirror caps are now finished in black.
Wheel and tire sizes remain unchanged, but the wheels feature a new design and are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires on manually-equipped models, and Hankook R18 A/S rubber on automatics. Finally, in back, you'll find the new N Line badge, along with a re-styled lower diffuser.
Not much has changed inside other than a redesigned N logo steering wheel and shift knob, both trimmed in black leather with red stitching. Carry-over features include black leather seating with red stitching - aggressively-bolstered and heated up front with new N logos and an extendable seat cushion and power lumbar for the driver – along with a unique instrument cluster, alloy pedals, black headliner and a proximity key with push-button start. The larger 8-inch touchscreen is now standard, with Bluetooth phone capability, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto carried over.
At the same time, rear seat legroom is tight, while only option package offered is the pricey automatic model-only Tech Package that adds navigation to the infotainment system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats with power adjust and lumbar for the driver, 7-speaker Infinity audio system including subwoofer, Hyundai's Blue Link connectivity system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and wireless charging.
The package also includes adaptive cruise control with start/stop, pre-collision warning, lane keep assist, automatic headlights with high-beam assist, and driver attention alert – none of which are available on manually-equipped models.
Under the hood
Likewise, much of what lies under the hood is unchanged including the slick 1.6-liter direct injection turbo that develops 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a maximum 195 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm, mated to either a 6-speed manual or optional 7-speed dual clutch manumatic transmission (the latter with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters). But even here, Hyundai has tweaked last year's iteration with engine mount stiffness up 6.3 percent, and transmission mount stiffness up 24 percent.
The chassis also receives a number of upgrades including larger brake rotors and increased spring stiffness front and rear (14.3 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively), along with smaller diameter front and larger diameter rear roll bars, new shock tuning, and new steering calibration.
Fuel economy in models equipped with the 7-speed DSG automatic is an EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon in the city, 32 on the highway, and 28 combined, with the 6-speed manually-equipped version getting dinged with an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city, 30 highway, and 26 combined.
On the road
The N Line upgrades to the chassis were readily apparent on the winding back roads around Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The suspension tweaks result in a ride that is even more controlled that remains settled over even the roughest pavement. The chassis feels remarkably balanced, while the previous model's accurate steering has been improved with even more road feel. Finally, the brakes – with their larger rotors – offer a better initial bite and are easier to modulate with better feedback through the pedal.
In addition to the features mentioned previously, the standard equipment list includes full LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights, power heated outside mirrors, power windows (with front auto-up/down) and locks, dual automatic climate control, automatic headlights, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, and a cargo area cover.
2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line prices
2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line prices, including an $885 destination charge, start at $24,185 for the 6-speed manual. A $1,100 upcharge for the 7-speed dual clutch transmission, and $3,850 for the Tech Package brings the MSRP of most expensive version to a less-alluring $29,135.
The Bottom Line
Despite the fact that fuel economy is hardly class-leading, while we'd opt for a GTI over the priciest version, in our brief stint behind the wheel, we found that there's a lot to like about the new Elantra GT N Line. Not only is Hyundai's latest pocket rocket slickly-styled with a high-quality interior, it features an entertaining chassis suitable for the daily commute as well as weekend autocrossing.
With the imminent demise of the Focus ST, the GT N Line remains a welcome offering in the class, with the base model representing a solid choice for buyers looking for performance at an affordable price point.