One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line is a pointed pistol, but for whom?

The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line is the new, sporty member of the Sonata family.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line is a car that marries functionality with precision steering and a punch of power. But (and this is a big but) who is it for?

The Sonata was redesigned for the 2020 model year and this fresh edition is a sporty take on the midsize sedan. It's nearly the exact same size as the Audi S6, but doesn't have the prestige, power, or heritage that Audi models do. That's fine. In fact, it's more than fine. That means that it also doesn't have the premium price tag (think: two Sonata N Lines for the price of an Audi S6).

2021 Hyundai Sonata  N Line The looks of the car have remained relatively the same, except for some accents and different wheels.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

On the outside the Sonata N Line features gloss black accents and N Line badging. It's an appealing amount of black that neither overwhelms the car nor screams "Hey you guys! I drive a sporty sedan for all the attention! Have you seen the size of my watch?"

The car's turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Its powertrain is completed with a new N eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission while paddle shifters take their place on the wheel. The powertrain suitably creeps through traffic and doesn't overwhelm the driver with power in the first third of the gears. But put your foot down and whoo boy you're off the races. It's a bit like being shot out of a cannon, though reasonably easy to control. Just learn to expect it (and maybe not try it in heavy-ish traffic).

The paddle shifters deliver some amount of control over the shift points but there's little in the way of satisfaction when it comes to using them because the power delivery in the Sonata is just so darn smooth.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Gloss black accents mark the car as an N Line model.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Whether going fast or slow, the revised suspension of the Sonata ensures a stiff ride. Over less than smooth pavement, the Sonata N Line's tuning isn't ideal, but once the asphalt rolls out ahead of you like soft butter on a hot roll, the ride becomes enjoyable.

Steering is pointed and precise. This generation Sonata has always been easy to steer and continually delivers a connected drive experience. That doesn't change with this 2021 model, which makes carving corners easy, whether it's up and down the canyons of Malibu, California or the winding traffic light-filled narrows of neighboring Sunset Drive through Bel-Air and beyond. The stiff suspension also ensures that you're not shifting from side to side too much as you traverse the roads.

Hyundai has also sported-up the Sonata N Line's interior. It has Nappa leather bolsters and Dinamica suede inserts, and a leather-wrapped N sport steering wheel. There's also a 12.3-inch LCD cluster display, wireless device charging, Hyundai Digital Key, aluminum pedals, a second-row air vent, proximity key with push-button start and a hands-free trunk release, LED interior lighting, and an auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink. That's a good roster of features that fit to Hyundai's clean cabin design and modern layout.

2021 Hyundai Sonata The interior is also relatively unchanged, but there are typical sporty change to the upholstery and finishes.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

And while that's all well and good, it does make one wonder, who exactly is going to buy the Sonata N Line. Are there people out there cruising around in a Sonata with the 191-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine saying to themselves, "if only this thing was more of a rocket"?

Sure, there may be. And perhaps the Sonata N Line is a way of getting them to move to the new model rather than switching over to the Kia Stinger. That being said, the Stinger isn't all that popular with buyers - just over 10,000 have been sold this year. But, the Sonata N Line tops the similarly-priced Stinger when it comes to power, handling, and features.

Look, I get it. The Sonata N Line gives buyers another reason to stay with Hyundai rather than go somewhere else when they're looking for a sporty sedan. I'm just saying that, despite its good natured performance, it wouldn't be my first option in the Sonata family.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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Frightening security

Boston Dynamics' robot to patrol Kia factory

The robot is being tested as a security patrol unit.

Hyundai

Breaking into an auto manufacturing facility was already a very bad idea, but new security tech being tested by Hyundai Motor Group makes it downright terrifying as well. In addition to cameras, sensors, and armed security guards, would-be burglars at a Kia plant in South Korea now have to face off with a semi-autonomous robot dog.

The Boston Dynamics quadruped robot, named Spot, is being tested as a safer and more effective way of providing security patrols to the plant. The dog is one of several robots designed and tested by the firm, which has long terrified the internet with its physically capable electronic beings.

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot The robot uses various sensors to detect danger and intruders.Hyundai

If you haven't seen it, the Boston Dynamics robot dog is frightening enough on its own, so it's an excellent choice to provide factory security. The robot uses an integrated thermal camera and 3D LiDAR to detect people around it, and can monitor high-temperature situations and fire hazards. It can be controlled remotely through a secure webpage, which allows personnel to see what's going on in the factory without putting themselves in danger.

The robot is capable of navigating tight spaces and can identify issues not visible to the human eye. It's also able to semi-autonomously navigate its environment, and has been developed with task management and deep learning-based vision technology. Boston Dynamics says that its tech can be expanded to other types of robot platforms.



The robot dog is currently in the pilot stage at Kia's plant in South Korea. It will be used to support late-night security patrols and increase safety for workers. Hyundai Motor Group will assess the robot's effectiveness and suitability for the job before expanding its use in other industrial sites.

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