Hyundai Ioniq 5 Quarter View
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The best electric cars we’ve driven in 2023

In a rapidly transforming automotive landscape, EVs are taking center stage. What kind of auto journos would be if we didn’t put forth the effort to sample the latest in electric cars? So, we personally tested some of the leading cars on the market to share with you our quick takes and short reviews on the best electric cars of 2023, breaking down their standout features and performance metrics.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Ioniq 5 charging
Image: Hyundai

Starting price: $41,450

Horsepower: 168 to 320 hp

Torque: 258 to 446 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 101 to 114 mpge

Battery Capacity: 58 to 77.4 kWh

Range: 220 to 303 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet evaluated under new criteria

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 combines retro-futuristic styling with advanced driver aids and smooth, silent acceleration. It operates on an 800V electrical architecture, enabling blazing-fast charging, and it can travel up to 303 miles on a charge in its most generous configuration. While all-wheel drive is available, the most efficient and longest-range models are those with rear-wheel drive. The Ioniq 5 has a smooth ride and refined operation, and while it’s not the most powerful or exciting EV on the market, it’s certainly tuned for comfort and delivers on that promise.

Hyundai’s tech isn’t as fancy or flashy as others, but it gets the job done and makes interacting with the vehicle a pleasure. The EV comes standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, HD radio, SiriusXM, and more. Additionally, the Ioniq 5 earned a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS in 2022. As of this writing, it hasn’t yet been subjected to new crash-test standards for 2023.

Kia EV6

Kia EV6 rear quarter on display
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Migl

Starting price: $42,600

Horsepower: 167 to 576 hp

Torque: 258 to 545 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 79 to 117 mpge

Battery Capacity: 58 to 77.4 kWh

Range: 206 to 310 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet evaluated under new criteria

The Kia EV6 shares a platform and much of its underlying technology with the Hyundai Ioniq 5, though it presents unique styling and a hotter performance variant in the EV6 GT. The 800V architecture it features enables a 10 to 80 percent charge in as few as 18 minutes using the fastest chargers available. All configurations offer healthy acceleration, but the EV6 GT’s prowess rivals that of some supercars. At the same time, the SUV has engaging handling and can hold its own in corners. It’s a little tightly wound, but most will find the ride quality agreeable. 

Psst. To any speed junkies here, note it’s the only Korean EV available with that hotted-up, sports car-fighting powertrain option. Or at least it is until Hyundai drops the Ioniq 5 N on our shores. But until then, it’s an EV6 GT or bust!

Like Hyundai, Kia focuses on functionality over flashiness in its infotainment systems. It also offers two 12.3-inch screens, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 14 speakers, wireless charging, navigation, and more. It earned a Top Safety Pick in 2022, but the IIHS hasn’t yet smashed it in the newer, tougher side-crash tests.

Ford F-150 Lightning

F-150 Lightning in the dirt
Image: Ford

Starting price: $49,995

Horsepower: 452 to 580 hp

Torque: 775 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 66 to 70 mpge

Battery Capacity: 98 to 131 kWh

Range: 230 to 320 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? No

Ford wasn’t the first to market with an electric pickup, but it hit the market hard with the F-150 Lightning — a normal-looking, full-sized truck that is surprisingly capable and demonstrates decent range. Though it has raised prices and struggled to keep up with demand, Ford configured the truck to be as familiar as possible for everyday buyers, and the Lightning delivers on that goal. It offers fantastic interior space and comfort and plenty of available tech – including BlueCruise hands-free driving. Though its range extends to 320 miles, towing and hauling heavy loads has an outsized impact on the distance it can travel, but 66 to 70 mpge combined is still pretty darn good for what it is.

Ford’s excellent Sync infotainment system runs on a 12-inch touchscreen, and the truck comes standard with a 12-inch digital gauge cluster. Buyers can upgrade to a massive 15.5-inch display, and other options include wireless charging, HD radio, and SiriusXM radio. Though it missed out on a Top Safety Pick, the Lightning comes standard with a load of advanced safety kit, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane keep assist, and more.

All said and done, it’s a fairly well-equipped and heavy-hitting product, even if it can get egregiously priced near the top of its trim levels. And sure. Although, it’s clearly not ideally sized for urban environments, don’t let a little girth deter you from an otherwise compelling product, especially if utility is a huge plus for you.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes EQS quarter view
Image: Mercedes-Benz

Starting price: $104,400

Horsepower: 329 to 649 hp (751 hp w/ boost)

Torque: 417 to 700 lb-ft. (752 lb-ft. w/ boost)

Combined MPGe: 103 mpge

Battery Capacity: 108.4 kWh

Range: 277 to 350 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

The Mercedes-Benz EQS is a flagship electric sedan from the luxury brand that offers futuristic tech, striking style, and an available AMG variant with breathtaking performance. No matter the powertrain choice, the car carries itself with authority and composure. It remains comfortable over various road surfaces and is surprisingly capable in the corners. At the same time, the interior remains quiet, and the car feels like an S-Class Mercedes at all times.

Mercedes offers a serious array of tech in the EQS, including standard 64-color ambient interior lighting, a 12.8-inch touchscreen, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The top configuration includes a massive and seriously impressive 56 inches of display, including an almost 18-inch touchscreen. The EQS comes standard with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward and rear automatic braking, and more.

Nissan Ariya

Nissan Ariya Front Fascia
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Kazya Kuruma

Starting price: $43,190

Horsepower: 214 to 389 hp

Torque: 221 to 442 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 87 to 101 mpge

Battery Capacity: 63 to 84 kWh

Range: 205 to 304 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

Nissan had delays with its new EV, the Ariya, but it’s here for 2023 with a decent range and impressive horsepower. Acceleration feels solid, though the front-wheel drive model takes more than seven seconds to reach 60 mph. The all-wheel drive configuration is considerably quicker, making the run in 5.5 seconds, and the SUV manages itself well on the road. Braking and steering are confidence-inspiring, and the Ariya holds its own in the corners.

Nissan equips the Ariya with a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen running wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A Wi-Fi hotspot, HD radio, Amazon Alexa capability, and much more also come standard. The Ariya has a solid list of standard safety equipment, though the IIHS hasn’t tested it yet. It’s equipped with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, a rearview camera, parking sensors, and driver attention warnings.

Genesis Electrified G80

Genesis Electrified G80
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Damian Oh

Starting price: $79,825

Horsepower: 365

Torque: 516 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 97 mpge

Battery Capacity: 87.2 kWh

Range: 282 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet evaluated under new criteria

Genesis took a tried-and-true approach with the Electrified G80, fitting batteries and an electric motor to the gas model’s body. The results are impressive: 365 horsepower, 282 miles of range, and all the luxury ride quality anyone could want. The car retains its flagship sedan feel, and the silent electric drivetrain offers strong acceleration and smooth operation. It’s not the most agile option around, but the car’s extreme level of comfort is a substantial consolation prize.

The Electrified G80 gets a 14.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 12 speakers, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a digital gauge cluster, and USB inputs. A 12.3-inch gauge cluster is available, along with wireless charging and an upgraded Lexicon audio system. The Electrified G80 earned a Top Safety Pick + in 2022 but hasn’t been subjected to the new, more intense side-crash tests. 

Cadillac Lyriq

Cadillac LYRIQ on China roads
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Dinkun Chen

Starting price: $58,590

Horsepower: 340 to 500 hp

Torque: 325 to 450 lb-ft.

Combined MPGe: 89 mpge

Battery Capacity: 102 kWh

Range: 307 to 312 miles

IIHS Top Safety Pick? Not yet tested

The Lyriq is Cadillac’s first EV, riding on GM’s advanced Ultium platform. And while not everyone on board Acceleramota seems to love it, there’s no denying what it has to offer GM fans. It offers up to 500 horsepower, and even the base configuration brings 340 ponies to the table. Acceleration isn’t exceptionally thrilling, but the SUV delivers refined power and good handling. It’s also every bit a Cadillac, bringing a smooth driving experience and a stable ride quality. The Lyriq’s one-pedal driving function works well, and standard braking feels solid.

The Lyriq’s dash is adorned with a massive array of screens, collectively spanning thirty-three inches, and equipped with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, seven speakers, and more. Additionally, Cadillac includes ambient interior lighting, an AKG premium stereo, and a panoramic sunroof. Though it hasn’t been evaluated by the IIHS yet, the Lyriq comes standard with a vibrating safety alert seat, lane departure warnings, pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warnings. 

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2023 Volkswagen Golf R review: a timeless hot hatch for the aging car enthusiast

Volkswagen released the eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R in the United States in 2022, and both got interesting anniversary models for 2023. I grabbed a 2023 Volkswagen Golf R 20th Anniversary from a local dealer at a fair price and have spent the last two months putting it through its paces. The car is far from perfect, but its mix of interior space, all-wheel drive performance, and supreme hot-hatch cargo capacity put it over the top for me. 

That said, I would’ve picked up a GR Corolla for the right price. The Golf R is brutally quick and offers impressive performance tech, but it’s not as raw or entertaining to drive as the Corolla or the new Civic Type R. It’s better at hauling my kids and dog, but is it a better all-around car? Let’s get rolling and discover all the reasons why I think (hope) I made the right call. 

Golf R Snow Slalom
Image: Volkswagen

2023 Volkswagen Golf R price and trim levels

The Volkswagen Golf R starts at $44,740 and is on sale now. It comes in two trim levels – base and 20th Anniversary – but the latter is just an appearance change for the car. Though the R is offered in other body styles globally, America gets a hatch only, but it gets all the goodies without added-cost options. In this review, we tested the 2023 Golf R 20th Anniversary.

Available trim levels:

  • Base: $44,740
  • 20th Anniversary: $45,390

Exterior paint colors

  • Lapiz Blue Metallic
  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Pure White White

Interior colors

  • Titan black w/ blue stitching

Interior options

  • VW offers no interior options


  • VW offers no packages or upgrades other than accessories

They’re keeping it real simple over there at Wolfsburg, I see.

For reference, the Civic Type R is roughly on par at $44,890, while its tuxedo-clad sibling, the Integra Type-S, goes for $51,995. The GR Corolla starts far lower at $35,900, and the Hyundai Elantra N, which is a teeny smidge behind this pack in terms of speed but has similar tech and features, stickers for $32,900.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R interior and tech

While VW offers plaid cloth or leather in the GTI, the Golf R gets leather in both models. The 20th Anniversary adds carbon fiber trim to the dash and a blue “R” logo to the steering wheel but is otherwise identical, other than the fact that buyers pay more to delete the sunroof. Some have complained that the eighth-gen Golf R and GTI feel cheaper inside than their predecessors, which is largely accurate. There are more hard plastics and fewer physical controls than before, and that’s a hard pill to swallow at almost $50,000.

Interior space

  • Front seat legroom: 41.2 inches
  • Rear seat legroom: 35 inches
  • Front seat headroom: 38.5 inches
  • Rear seat headroom: 38.1 inches
  • Cargo space with back seats up: 19.9 cubic feet
  • Cargo space with back seats down: 34.5 cubic feet


  • Length: 168.9 inches
  • Width: 70.4 inches
  • Height: 57.7 inches

2023 Volkswagen Golf R engine and performance

The 2023 Golf R relies on VW’s workhorse EA888 four-cylinder engine, now in its fourth generation. The turbocharged 2.0-liter mill makes 315 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and sends it to all four wheels through a seven-speed DSG transmission. The car comes standard with a six-speed manual, but they’re harder to find and are down 15 pound-feet of torque on the DSG. I’ve been able to get close to Car and Driver’s tested zero-to-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds, but the quickest times involve perfect conditions that I rarely have here in Maine.

In the handling department, Volkswagen improved the Golf R’s suspension and chassis, and the car comes standard with adaptive dampers. Large 14.1-inch front rotors bring everything to a stop and the car’s torque vectoring shifts torque between the wheels that need it the most.

The Golf R also includes several drive modes, such as “Race,” “Special,” and “Drift.” Even so, having a Drift mode is only really useful if the car actually drifts while using it. That’s not the case here, as the Golf R feels extremely reluctant to break traction in the so-called drifting mode.

Golf R Drifting
Image: Volkswagen

2023 Volkswagen Golf R design

Where some hot hatches opt to shout their performance from the rooftops, the Golf R is a more subtle affair. There are no loud scoops on the hood or massive spoilers other than one prominent wing on the rear hatch. I’d prefer a sunroof, but many have knocked VW’s for being leaky and loud, so perhaps I dodged a bullet with the 20th Anniversary’s slicktop design. The car rides on 19-inch wheels clad in summer rubber, and though the wheel design is the same, the 20th Anniversary’s are painted black. The only other indications that it’s different from a GTI or standard Golf are the R logos on the quarter panels and rear hatch.

The interior design is pleasing to the eye, but there are simply too many touch controls. I’ve adjusted to them after weeks of use, but they could be jarring for someone coming out of a more analog car. The front seats are deep, sporty, and supportive and offer prominent bolstering for secure seating during rowdy driving. Back-seat passengers enjoy more legroom than the Toyota GR Corolla, and the R has more cargo space than a Porsche Macan. Go figure.

Golf R front quarter view
Image: Chris Teague

2023 Volkswagen Golf R future

The Golf GTI and R are only two years old at this point, and despite VW’s EV saber-rattling, they’ll likely stick around with gas for at least a few more years. The cars are expected to get a facelift in 2025 or 2026 that brings more physical controls and other updates, but the Golf probably won’t shift to an all-electric, or even a hybrid design for that matter, in the next couple of years. That said, VW has long said that the GTI name would make the jump to electrification at some point, so it’s only a matter of time before we see an electrified hatchback on American soil. 

Golf R Wheels and Brakes
Image: Chris Teague

Additional FAQs

Is the Golf R worth the premium over a Golf GTI?

In my case, the answer was yes. The GTI (I owned a new one for over a year) fizzles out at a point, and that’s where the R shines the most. This is true with acceleration and overall grip, as the R’s trick all-wheel drive system helps it claw out of trouble much more confidently. 

Is a Golf R expensive to maintain?

Maintaining a Golf R is more expensive than driving something like a VW Jetta or Camry. Still, it’s not as tearjerking as trying to keep up with maintenance on a Porsche or more exotic car like a Lamborghini or Ferrari. 

Which Audi has the same powertrain as the Golf R?

The Audi S3 sedan has the same turbo-four and all-wheel drive system as the Golf R, all wrapped up in a sedan body instead of a hatch.

Is the Golf R faster than the GTI?

The Golf R has 75 more horsepower, and its all-wheel drive system helps put that power to the ground much more efficiently than the front-wheel drive GTI.

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2023 Hyundai Elantra N parked in the desert

2023 Hyundai Elantra N review: shattering Korean sports sedan stereotypes

Stop! Shut up for a sec. About this Hyundai Elantra N, you’re telling me the same company that made shitpile Sonatas back in the day is now selling a near-300-horsepower rocket sled with a stick or dual-clutch, handling to shame a 3 Series, and over 30 mpg on the freeway for under thirty-five grand?


But such is the 2023 Hyundai Elantra N. Once again, we receive yet another wonderfully unexpected gift from South Korea, like spa-grade skin care products and squid ink corndogs. We know it’s going to be good. Downright grand, even, especially given the now-defunct Veloster N, whose heart plus some bones were transplanted here. But just how good are we talking? Because in this segment, it doesn’t just pay to be merely good. 

For some time now, the sport compact breed has been an endangered species, a category of driver’s cars occupied by pan flashes of greatness and slivers of hope for the blue-collar enthusiast. Hyundai’s continued participation is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. But it takes serious performance cred to make an impact nowadays, something the Elantra N’s forebearer had no issue with doing. With the Veloster gone, the Elantra carries the torch as Hyundai’s champion in the category and all the expectations that go with it.

Thankfully, the Elantra N, with all that weight on its shoulders, was eager to show its true colors during three days of SoCal adventuring. This Hyundai had a lot to prove. And boy, were there some things to show for it.

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Jeric Jaleco

2023 Elantra N price and specs

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Lo and behold! The Elantra N does indeed boasts fairly admirable numbers. To summarize in one sentence, the N occupies a niche directly beneath Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf R, GR Corolla, and the deceased Focus RS, but its stats are within a breath, if not on par, with all of them. 

  • Base price: $32,900
  • As-tested price: $34,465
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
  • Transmission: 8-speed DCT (as-tested) // 6-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • HP: 276 horsepower (286 with overboost) @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 289 pound-feet @ 2,100 rpm
  • Redline: 6,700 rpm
  • Weight: approx. 3,300 pounds (8DCT) //  approx. 3,200 pounds (6MT)
  • 0 – 60 mph: 4.8 seconds (8DCT) //  5.1 seconds (6MT)
  • ¼-mile: 13.4 seconds @ 106 mph (8DCT) // 13.8 seconds @ 103 mph (6MT)
  • MPG: 20 city, 30 highway, 23 combined (8DCT) // 22 city, 31 highway, 25 combined (6MT)
  • Observed MPG: 30.4 mpg
  • Fuel Capacity: 12.4 gallons

(Author’s Note: Performance numbers were pulled from Car and Driver, recorded in its review from July 2023)

2023 Hyundai Elantra N design

Yes, yes, yes, I get it. It’s a little ugly. It’d be a Catfish Camaro if witches hexed the Alpha-platform cars into being compact sports sedans. The Legend of Zorro body lines are love-it-or-hate-it. Oh, and the ZL1 called and asked for its pedestal spoiler back. However, that face is quite pretty if you sit it next to, let’s say,  a G80 BMW M3

But I’ll give them this. It’s interesting.

Jeric Jaleco

The Elantra N and I suppose the Elantra, as a whole, is a more aggressive and eye-catching shape than most econoboxes, hotted-up or not. And I wouldn’t say it’s egregious either, just strange in an almost-concept car sort of way. The 2024 model does clean up the face and is right around the corner.

With the Hyundai N touches, including the red accents and sharp wheels that appear as though they were plucked right off an Audi S7, this Elantra does look at home on canyon roads or sitting pretty at a Donut Media pop-up meet.

Jeric Jaleco

2023 Hyundai Elantra N colors

Right. Colors. Welp, you get a whopping five. Hyundai offered an extroverted shade of red but discontinued the color.

There aren’t any tasteless or gaudy hues, but they’re not exciting either. Although, it does match the mature and modern aesthetic of the Elantra N, especially when contrasting against the red on the badging, brake calipers, and side skirts. The white on my test car was the understated-yet-handsome choice, but Performance Blue is the definite power move.

The only choice for interior colors is a dreary black, which makes a slight but appreciable attempt at contrast via bright gauge colors in the digital display and an ambient light bar across the dash.

Exterior paint colors

  • White: $450
  • Performance Blue: $450
  • Intense Blue: $0
  • Cyber Gray: $0
  • Phantom Black: $0
Jeric Jaleco

2023 Hyundai Elantra N price

If gushy first impressions and snazzy shots don’t ruffle your feathers, maybe the price tag will. Amidst Type Rs and Golf Rs deep in the $40K range and even kissing $50K before markup, the Elantra N stickers for an astonishing  $32,900, or a smidge over $34K with handling fees.

For reference, that’s within range of top-shelf trims of the less powerful Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ twins. It’s priced lower than a base Toyota GR Corolla Core but a few thousand more than a base Volkswagen Mk8 Golf GTI. Do with that as you will, but that’s one hell deal given the performance-to-practicality ratio this car delivers, which we’ll ramble about more in just a sec.

Trim levels (before taxes and fees)

  • 6-speed manual: $32,900
  • 8-speed DCT: $34,400

The cars come loaded and stunningly well-equipped for their class, with only minor accessories available, such as wheel locks and roadside safety kits. The only real option is a good old-fashioned stick or the $1,500 rapid-fire wet dual-clutch.

And if we want to bring the used market into the fray, know that this car directly butts heads with Focus RSs and FK8-generation Civic Type Rs of old.

2024 Hyundai Elantra N interior and tech

Fine decor

Auto journos have praised Korean automakers for some time for how much they’ve advanced themselves in the past decade or so, and the Elantra N has rightfully earned the hype. Seriously, let’s get subjective as hell right now. Look at the posh, modern elegance of Genesis luxo barges, Kia SUVs, or even Hyundai econoboxes, and tell me they can’t hold a candle to a Camry or Accord. The freshly-minted notion that Korea will rule the car market has substance behind it, and it starts with where your booty meets with the bolstering. 

The Elantra N rocks an attractive set of heated bucket seats, with holes for harness straps and an illuminated N badge as the cherry on top. Leather bolsters match the perforated leather on the wonderfully-contoured steering wheel and flank a suede bottom cushion and backrest. Physical dual-zone climate controls and a centrally-mounted radio power and volume knob sit beneath the BMW-esque digital gauge/infotainment screen combo.

Jeric Jaleco

Of course, even for nearly $35K as tested, this is still a Hyundai-freaking-Elantra, the diminutive runt of Hyundai’s ranks, or at least not when compared to the Accent or Veloster (rest in peace, little Velo). The N is a compact sedan cut from the same cloth as a Civic, Corolla, or Focus, meaning plenty of hard black plastics, but the Elantra sets itself apart with soft-touch points and materials that at least look premium, even if they aren’t.

The trunk is cavernous enough to hold weekend luggage for a small family, although the red chassis brace means no converting the Elantra N into an awkwardly sleek cargo van. The backseats are plenty spacious with copious legroom, even with the front seats adjusted to accommodate my six-foot passenger. However, the lack of a center armrest and dedicated rear seat climate controls remind occupants of this car’s origins on the Enterprise rental lot. And the roofline and small back door opening raise mild concerns for those with longer torsos. Or bigass foreheads. 

Jeric Jaleco
Jeric Jaleco

Enough tech to quell the Silicon Valley nerds

Equally as useful is Hyundai’s expansive suite of safety aids. Parking cameras with moving guidance lines and sensors are always a godsend in any car, as are blind-spot monitors that illuminate in the mirrors and with a graphic on the gauge cluster screen.

Adaptive cruise control with lane following is present, although I admit I never quite learned how to enable it as easily as I have in other Hyundais. I blame the two hours of sleep I had the day I took delivery. If it works anything like the Santa Cruz I drove with the same feature, I’d say it’s a mostly intelligent and smooth-operating semi-autonomous system but still requires a watchful eye.

As the cherry on top, there’s even an audible chime and visual notification in the cluster when the lead car departs at an intersection. In case, you know, you’re on your phone reading Acceleramota articles or something. Very neat. Very useful. And very much a sign of our increasingly-inattentive society, and pretty soon, we’ll need a notification to check the notification. But I’ll take it!

How well does it do Elantra things?

A (mostly) premium commuting experience on a budget

As you can imagine, all that tech-ladden goodness in this nameplate from a repentant Korean marque experiencing the glow-up of the century equates to one hell of a 9-to-5 shuttle. And that’s the best compliment I can give to any econobox. 

Strip away the N badge and the sharp-colored accents. Take away the hot engine and the gobs of power and just drive this car for what it is at its core, an Elantra, and you’ll be amazed at how far Hyundai has matured. 

While the steering can be a tad hefty, even in its most sedate mode, it’s still well-acquainted with concrete jungles, and the quick ratio lets you dart between lanes and around parking garages with minimal inputs. The ride is mostly compliant in spite of its high-performance nature until you greet some of LA’s worst potholes. Then the firm dampers and thin tire sidewalls can send a frightening crash through the whole car. But that’s a seldom occasion on only the worst of ill-maintained roads, and the body exhibits no signs of quivers.

Jeric Jaleco

Having experienced (and loved) the same tech in a Hyundai Santa Cruz, the tech in the Elantra N expectedly worked without a single hiccup. Wired CarPlay was as brainless as always, but the in-system navigation is no less a piece of cake and features destination searching. The sound system was a literal banger, with the equalizer able to crank out enough bass to earn it a spot at lowrider meets. All sensors and cameras worked flawlessly, and every function within the screen was as intuitive as can be and easy to switch between.

Hey, I said “mostly.”

One minor complaint was that the red illumination of the blind spot monitors in the mirrors was a bit easy to lose in the sun. Thankfully, the gauge cluster notifications more than made up for it and quickly dismissed the need to see the light in the mirrors. 

And not to be that guy, but I will be that guy. Because these bucket seats, as cool as they look and as laterally supportive as they are, kind of suck as a touring seat. I get it. The N is the performance version, but it’s still an Elantra, and its seat comfort is a big strike against its grand touring cred. My local LA friend who accompanied me quipped how he sat in lawn chairs that were more comfortable. Both of us cited the annoying lack of lumbar support or adjustment. 

A slightly nitpickier flop is fuel economy if you go DCT over the stick. You get marginally less fuel mileage despite having more gears. Then again, I’m seriously nitpicking here. And, while you can theoretically hit the EPA-rated 30 mpg, I averaged over 30 during mixed driving of mostly highways, with some city and a wee dash of balls-to-the-wall canyon driving thrown in. Even more fascinating, Car and Driver saw a jaw-dropping 37 during their highway loop. 

Jeric Jaleco

So basically, don’t drive like a total dickbag and then complain about gas mileage. Or better yet, opt for the purists’ stick shift and boost your miles per gallon and your smiles per mile. Your call. Either way, you’re still better off than my Mustang, even on a good day.

Owners ought to consider themselves lucky, as it’s rare a car comes along that’s this good at the split-personality act. If you thought its credentials as a 9-to-5 shuttle were impressive, wait until you get the chance to run for the twisties.

How well does it wear that N badge?

Built by N, blessed by M

And run for the twisties, you must in this car. It should be criminal to buy something like this and never experience it the way former M daddy, Albert Biermann, intended. If the students of Todo School in Fourth Stage were present-day patrons of Korea International Circuit, they’d probably be rocking a fleet of these.

No, the N doesn’t quite seem to have the on-track pretentious of a Focus RS or Type R, nor is it as cutthroat. But there’s also no reason to believe it can’t give them a run for their money at local track days. This thing is a real bully in the canyons but in a composed, calculating manner that evokes memories of Germany’s finest. 

The steering and handling are wonderfully reactive, and the Elantra N just braces for every corner with a sense of enthusiasm found in lighter cars. 3,300 pounds doesn’t mean that much when it can hustle this fast around hairpins and sweepers, thanks to the 245-wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and Hyundai’s electronic limited-slip differential.

Dancing With the Cars

Did you make a mistake and enter too hot? No worries. Just add more steering. Don’t even be afraid to give it a touch of throttle to power out halfway through the corner. The car just rockets around bends with hardly a lick of understeer. You can even get the tail to wag enough for a few giggles with the right amount of trail braking.

This anti-Jetta GLI inspires great confidence, from its performance to feedback and handling characteristics. Thanks to its level of cornering composure and turbo grunt, I beat back a Camaro SS 1LE and beat down a V8 Vantage into giving me a point-by in the LA canyons.

And of course that’s the truth! What choice do you have in reading this than to believe me? Try for yourself, and you’ll see. Utter brilliance! 

Unlike many rocket sleds from Germany, the Elantra N has somewhat natural steering with a much-appreciated sense of weighting under load, like a real sports car. It’s not what I’d describe as being alive with feel, but you still get a decent sense of the road and how close or far you are from the limits. There are faint wriggles and jitters through the seat and the chassis, letting you know every bit of the road without conveying a sense of harshness or cheapness. It’s genuine communication. Not that much, but it’s there. 

Jeric Jaleco

You can preset two custom drive modes to your liking: N Mode and your custom presets can be cycled between using the N buttons on the wheel. I found maximum kill for the powertrain with mid-level suspension and steering to be perfect, with a ride-handling balance that never upset the chassis and steering that never felt heavy to the point where you think the car put on some pounds. Like a BMW M car, it can be overwhelming at first. But then you learn what you like, set it, and forget it.

Brakes were rock solid, superbly easy to modulate in a way few modern performance cars can replicate, and fade-free, even after living out my Initial D fantasies on one of Malibu’s most dangerous and technical canyon roads. Do not attempt at home, kids! But not one complaint in the stopping department!

The little four-banger that could

But I bet you’re waiting to hear how this two-liter turbo engine feels. Well then.

By the numbers, the Elantra is on par with more focused and powerful peers, and it feels every tenth of a second as quick. It’s the perfect in-between for those who enjoy the brutal effectiveness of a German turbo motor but also the playful charm of a Japanese mill. And from one flick of a drive mode switch, it pivots from mundane commuter to wannabe rally car in a heartbeat.

Jeric Jaleco

There’s turbo lag that can be a treat to play with if you lug it to feel that power surge, but it’s only a tad bit tucked way down in the rev range. With the snappy, ankle-biting gearing of Hyundai’s dual-clutch, you’ve got to really be searching for lag to ever encounter it on spirited drives. Otherwise, you’re always neck-deep in that deliciously meaty powerband, which delivers its oomph in such a respectably silky manner for a four-banger that it’s easy to smash right into the hard rev limiter.

The party gets plenty more obscene with rpm-adjustable launch control and N Grin Shift (NGS), the latter working as an overboost function for 20 seconds to pump out ten more ponies.

At least the Elantra N lets you do just that, giving you greater control and autonomy over the car’s performance. Manual mode is manual mode. None of this auto-upshift at the fuel cutoff crap. You can lug gears to the absolute last second or send the revs straight to high heaven before grabbing the next via the metal shift paddles, which respond instantly to inputs and react eagerly to rapid successions of downshifts.

Jeric Jaleco

In auto, the gearbox does a fantastic job choosing gears, never hunting on the highway or holding gears for too long or too little in the canyons. There’s some real Goldilocks programming here. Porsche 911 PDK good? Nah. But it’ll give Volkswagen’s DSG a run for its money. 

I never sampled the manual Elantra N for those asking, but I did try the near-identical stick-and-turbo combo in a friend’s Veloster N. It’s great. Think of a slightly notchier Fiesta ST, from what I remember. Easy and accurate gates shifter with a friendly clutch. Almost a Honda but not quite.

The Hyundai Elantra N is a worthy warrior

Not too shabby for only the second entry into Hyundai’s growing N lineup. It’s a nicer Type R and a more civilized Focus RS. At the same time, it’s more frantic than the comparably sterile Golf R or GTI while being nearly as usable on the daily grind, granted you can get to grips with the bucket seats. Other than some admittedly trivial quirks, there’s no faulting how well this car plays the split-personality role in a way few cars on this side of a Fiesta ST can. 

And, uh, ahem, the Elantra N is a hell of a lot faster than a GTI or Fiesta ST. Dare I say it can run a Type R’s fade in the canyons with the right driver? It feels as punchy as its slightly more muscular foes and nearly as razor-edged, but it wears its bargain rack tuxedo with a little more class. Of course, it’s not perfect, and rivals do accomplish certain goals far better than this car ever could out of the box. But with the utmost confidence, I declare that Korea’s addition to the sports compact pantheon walks the line between sports car godhood and mortal commuter with beauty and grace. 

Jeric Jaleco

Now let’s backtrack here. You’re telling me the same company that made shitpile Sonatas back in the day is now selling a near-300-horsepower rocket sled with a stick or dual-clutch, handling to shame a 3-Series, and over 30 mpg on the freeway for under thirty-five grand?

You’re goddamn right.

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Lewis Hamilton sitting next to Formula 1 car

Lewis Hamilton’s MasterClass is self-help for the people who need it most – Formula 1 fans

This week Formula 1 sets its sights on the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal. The 2019 winner of this race was Lewis Hamilton. Lewis might be the best-known Formula 1 driver of the last 10 years. My mom knows his name. Even if you haven’t watched the Netflix docu-series Drive to Survive (or read the companion book), you know Lewis Hamilton. When he’s not shattering world records on the track or getting “fun and flirty” with Shakira, Lewis is showing others what it takes to become the GOAT.

When I was offered the chance to review Lewis Hamilton’s “Winning Mindset” MasterClass, my curiosity was piqued. I needed to know how this man has managed to stay calm, cool, and collected over the years in a sport that at times is anything but. In 12 lessons, Lewis reveals how to prepare yourself mentally for a successful life. And with seven World Champions, who are we to argue?

If you’re curious about Formula 1, Lewis could be your gateway. Not only do you get a crash course (so to speak), in the last 20-some years of the sport from a certified GOAT but a very helpful guidebook accompanies the courses. Even I, who is pretty well versed in F1, learned a lot (though I am still very confused about the steering wheel buttons).

I had the very unique experience of going through this class while also reading Jenson Button’s How to Be an F1 Driver. This is significant because Jenson was Lewis’ teammate at McLaren in 2010. A lot of the thought process about training and motivation is the same coming from both. It could be that they are both pretty regimented as Brits, but it could also be that these are the personalities the sport attracts.

But for so many, racing is just in the blood as the great Aryton Senna said. Lewis fought his way in and didn’t come from great money to do so. Humble beginnings might be what makes his attachment so precious. He earned every accolade by being a) very talented, b) obsessed, c) supported, and d) fearless. That’s his winning combo. All of those are easily applied to our own lives and passions.

Image credit: MasterClass

He is quick to remind us several times no man is an island, and neither are Formula 1 drivers. His team at Mercedes is upwards of 2,000 people, and thanks to Lewis’ initiatives, a much more diverse team. Trust is mutual as many have been with him for a decade. Both success and failure are shared, you’re not going through the highs and the lows alone. He mentions a strong support system is key; however, that might look different to you. Lots of credit goes to his father and stepmother for setting a strong foundation, but engineers, team principles, and teammates have played a part. (Sidenote: Valtteri Bottas was his best teammate.)

Forming a close relationship with the late and iconic Niki Lauda was a crucial factor in his arrival at Mercedes. Role models, however they come into your life, can be huge resources for advice and learning your craft. He points out that on more than one occasion he and Niki butted heads. And while there might have been generational differences, he pushed his performance and mentored Lewis, adding value to his life beyond finances.

What stood out throughout the classes is Lewis is a presence who lets his talents do the talking. Outspoken when he needs to be, his words hold more power because he knows when to use them. Thus making him a driver and global celebrity so many look up to. And for very good reason.

Take one race at a time, record-breaking doesn’t happen overnight. World Championships aren’t built in a day. When you’re traveling in a custom-built car that cost millions of dollars moving at aeronautic speeds, staying present is what keeps you alive. The consequences for letting your mind drift can lose you the race, or worse, your life.

Image credit: Formula 1

Deadly crashes are rare in the sport these days given improved safety measures and intricate training, but the possibility is always there, looming in the back of your mind. Each of those 20 drivers connects with a focus and fearlessness within them each race. As the poet Beyonce said, “You got me so crazy in love.” That’s the energy you need to compete in motorsports at this level. So crazy in love with driving that you can’t survive without it.

At 38 years old, Lewis assures us he has plenty of “crazy” left in him and maybe another World Championship title. But one thing is for sure: this man has forever changed not only Formula 1 but racing as a sport. His activism, his talent, and his passion make for a compelling self-help course disguised as F1 education. It takes lessons from motorsports and applies them to other facets of our lives. And, in that sense, it’s one of the best tools for learning the fundamentals of racing before you even set foot on the tarmac.

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