It all depends on the success of the upcoming Ioniq 5 N.
Redesigned for 2024, the new Hyundai Kona lineup is made up of hybrid, ICE, and all-electric variants, as well as an N Line model. But the Korean automaker has made no announcements concerning the high-performance Kona N.
That all changed this week, with Hyundai's Sang Hyeon Park remarking that if the sporty crossover were to make a return, it may arrive as an all-electric vehicle. Speaking to Australia's Drive.au at a recent media event, Park said "For Kona, we have a focus on ICE, EV, and hybrid, and are considering N as well. We are seeing the feedback and market reaction from the market about Ioniq 5 N."
While this may come as a surprise to some, it makes a lot of sense from Hyundai's perspective. Firstly, the new Kona was designed as an electric vehicle first and then adapted for internal combustion engine variants.
From an engineering perspective, it would most likely be easier for the automaker to design the next-generation Kona N as an electric car. As mentioned, the Korean automaker is already working on an Ioniq 5 N, so the company may save costs by utilizing technology and electric motor setups that have already been developed.
The first electric N product is shaping up to be quite a car; the automaker has put a lot of work into ensuring it will drive and feel like a combustion-engined performance vehicle. If it is as popular as the regular Ioniq 5, we may just see the same treatment given to the new Kona.
"Technically, it's easier for us to make an N high-performance version of the dedicated EV because of the platform," Park added. "We can bring out the high-performance output; but based on the non-dedicated platform with an ICE or EV, we have to look at different options."
The South Korean automaker has pulled no punches when it comes to its electric ambitions and wants to dominate the segment in the coming years. Even though the company has said it won't abandon the ICE engine anytime soon, it would be illogical to develop a new performance engine for a niche car.
While many could argue that Hyundai could just update the existing turbocharged 2.0-liter with 276 horsepower, it probably wouldn't be able to compete with future electric-powered performance crossovers. "We also have to fully consider CAFE. It's a difficult situation. The ICE N is not our consideration. Based on the feedback of Ioniq 5 N, we'll make a future decision."
It will be some time before we see a new Kona N and, if it does arrive, it will almost certainly be electric. That would make the existing model somewhat of a last hurrah so, if you want to get your hands on one, best you do so before it is too late.
Join The Discussion