I am a child of the 60s and a teenager of the 70s. As such, I remember the days when Dodge thought a 275-horsepower 340 V8 in a compact Dart was a really great idea.
Dodge wasn't wrong, but the trend didn't last long. Rising insurance rates threatened the party early on and the early 70s oil shortage stopped it cold.
Flash forward 50-plus years and Hyundai gets essentially the same idea. The Elantra, which is Hyundai's entry-level economy sedan now that the Accent has been discontinued, gets an N model (their in-house performance brand, which includes the Kona N and the recently discontinued Veloster N ).
What does that mean? Well, for starters, a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder with 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 in five seconds flat. Those of you who think they don't make 'em like they used to are right---the Dart 340 needed 6.3 seconds to do that.
Power without control is not a good idea, so the Elantra N also has an electronic limited-slip differential, a multi-link independent rear suspension, a rear chassis brace, 14.2-inch front and 12.4-inch rear ventilated brake rotors and 19-inch wheels on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires.
You can get the Elantra N with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but there's also a six-speed manual with rev matching. EPA estimate? 22 city/31 highway.
Base price of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is $32,150. That covers everything discussed above as well as standard LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, rear wing spoiler, large bore dual exhaust outlets, navigation, a Bose premium audio system with eight speakers including subwoofer, dual automatic temperature control, heated front seats, N-specific front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, wireless charging, voice recognition, proximity key and remote start.
Our tester had Ceramic White paint, a $400 option, but that's it. So with $1,095 freight, the as-tested price of the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is $33,645.
And that qualifies as one of the best performance bargains out there. There's a lot of great things to say about the Hyundai Elantra in any form. With this engine, suspension and transmission, it just gets better.