Best Sports Car To Buy 2022

The Car Connection’s Best Sports Car To Buy 2022 combines compact sedan practicality with a raucous driving experience that leaves grins in its wake: the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N.

The Elantra N is tied with the Honda Civic as our highest scoring affordable performance car with a TCC Rating of 6.8, but our editors give the Hyundai an enthusiastic nod over the Civic Si; the new Civic Type R is not slated to arrive until next year. Even then, the Elantra N will undercut the forthcoming hot Civic hatch on price. The outgoing Type R started at $38,450, but the Elantra N starts at just $32,925 with the manual transmission. It delivers nearly as much performance potential and just as much fun.

The Elantra N owes much of its inspiration to the three-door Veloster N. The two cars share a powertrain and many of the same features. But the Elantra N rides on Hyundai’s new generation K3 small vehicle platform and smooths out some of the twitchier aspects of the Veloster’s nature for a more suitable day-to-day vehicle.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that sends its 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. A 6-speed manual comes standard, with an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic optional. The 6-speed will be the only way to go for some enthusiasts, and it features rev matching and a nicely weighted, linear clutch pedal. But you don’t give up much by going with the automatic, which makes the Elantra N faster to 60 mph (5.0 seconds) and is well programmed for street and track duty. In its most aggressive setting, it holds gears up to redline and eliminates any awkward mid-corner shifts. 

Automatic models also get an NGS (N grin shift) button on the steering wheel, which boosts engine output to 286 hp for 20 seconds and causes the transmission to shift even quicker.

The powertrain’s liveliness is matched by the Elantra N’s superb handling and balance. There aren’t adaptive dampers, but the electronically controlled suspension has three firmness settings that dramatically change how the car rides. Body roll comes on at the limit, but it does so in a controlled fashion and the car quickly finds its balance. The steering feel is just about perfect, with plenty of feedback and a quickened ratio versus the standard Elantra.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N

An electronic limited-slip differential eliminates torque steer and sends extra power to the outside wheel, making the Elantra N feel like it’s getting yanked down into the corner as you get back on the power. It feels incredibly confident for a front-wheel drive car and a set of 245/35R 19 Michelin Pro Pilot Sport 4S summer tires also come standard, giving the sedan plenty of grip.

There are nits to pick with the Elantra N. The styling is hit or miss, with an especially busy nose and sharp angles acquired in the Elantra’s latest redesign that aren’t for everyone. Inside, there are large screens but plenty of budget plastics and some less appealing trim pieces. But from behind the wheel, you’ll be having so much fun that none of that stuff really matters. It’s a delightfully connected car that reminds one of the joy of driving. And it does so at an ultra-competitive price, showing that cheap speed still exists.

Read all about the winners of The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2022 awards—and find out which vehicles took home our annual Driver’s Choice awards as well as top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports

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