Hyundai gives another vehicle a makeover in the most aspired way possible… by tuning it up and making a high performance version! Just like the Hyundai Veloster N before it, a melancholic commuter Kona gets a high octane spa day. As Hyundai tries to reestablish itself in the car world as more than the company that built the abysmal econo-boxes of the 2000’s they’re trying to build a fleet of driver oriented vehicles known as the N Line. Various models such as the Sonata and the Elantra will receive an N Line treatment but this is the real deal. The Koreans have turned a compact SUV into a performance vehicle. I’ve officially seen it all.
The Kona will use the same engine as the Veloster N, a twin-turbo 2.0 L 4 cylinder engine with an 8-speed DCT pushing out around 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. Hyundai promises a linear power delivery in order to excel on the track and for the most fun. Featuring FWD instead of the already available AWD in the regular Kona is a questionable choice, but with a limited slip differential in the rear of the N model, we’re sure you can still get the back out with ease. Even on the base model the Kona N will be equipped with launch control, a variable exhaust system, and Hyundai’s new Grin Control System. N Grin Control System offers customers a high level of customization, with five distinct drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom. These drive modes change the character of the all-new Kona N by adjusting the operating parameters of the engine, Electronic Stability Control, exhaust sound, and steering to optimise them for a variety of driving conditions. This makes the Kona N one of the most configurable performance cars at this price point, something we love. When we tested out the GLI and the GTI from Volkswagen, we were impressed by its adjustability, but the Kona N blows the doors off those.
Hyundai intends to make the Kona feel like a video game with their ‘N’ buttons. Taking tricks right out of Elon Musk’s bag of tricks. Featuring a new infotainment center, have you ever felt like you play too much Forza and want to bring it to your actual car? Well Hyundai has thought of this. The infotainment screen brings a game-like setup and user interface, displaying lap times, a very cool track map system, and a lap timer. For our European friends, we’ll get a little jealous at the fact that you get N Road Sense, a system similar to modern day autopilot and sensor systems that detect road signs. This time however, Road Sense detects curvy roads and stiffens up the chassis and recommends drivers to enable N mode. How crazy is that? From a compact SUV!
The body gets extra welding points, sway bars, and chassis rigidity in order to prevent as much body roll as possible. Hyundai attempts to put an SUV in hot hatch territory. The exterior also gets a sporty facelift, with a spoiler, dual exhausts, larger exhaust pipes, and N specific touches. The touches include the triangular brake light, Performance Blue color option, N badged everything, and a wider lower air intake. The Kona N sits on 19-inch forged wheels grasped by summer performance tires for maximum grip to the ground.
Coming from Hyundai themselves, “Kona N is a true hot SUV with the performance level of a hot hatch. It breaks the rule that SUVs are less fun to drive. As an N model, it goes beyond the limits of an ordinary SUV,” said Albert Biermann, President and Head of R&D Division at Hyundai Motor Group. “Kona N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving.”
In terms of upgrades to the N, the 8-speed DCT got upgrades in materials and engineering for durability and even faster shifts. The engine gets a revamped set of gears and ratios in order to graner the most torque in the low end. The powerband as we mentioned is pretty linear, and that’s thanks to new camshafts and engine parts designed specifically for the N. The Kona N also features the N Power Shift, which ups turbo boost by 10 psi for a short amount of time on straightaways or to lessen turbo lag coming out of a corner. This has been a staple in N models for quite some time and may be one of the coolest parts of the performance package.
The Kona N may not all be about the numbers, but it isn’t a slowpoke either. Running from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, top speed just shy of 150 MPH, and tons of turbo PSI, the Kona N is one of the most capable SUVs on the market.
Going through a brand renaissance, Hyundai represents one of the most revived automakers in recent history. The Kona N is the epitome of the new look and style of the Korean market. The Kona N shows the perfect blend of daily driver turned rockstar. Like one of those hallmark Disney movies where the teenage girl transforms into the prom queen overnight. Pricing and more info has yet to be released, but we assume it’ll be in the same price range as the Veloster N.