A new teaser shows a racing helmet on what is clearly a Kona hood.
We know that Hyundai is working on a sporty, performance-oriented version of its compact Kona crossover; spy photographers have captured camouflage-clad prototypes on multiple occasions, and last June, a Korean outlet claimed to have the low-down on the powerplant and drivetrain.
But up until now, Hyundai has played it close to the chest with regard to the Hyundai Kona N, declining to even acknowledge the high-performance crossover's existence. That changed last week, as Hyundai's official N Instagram page shared a teaser on Christmas Eve showing a racing helmet atop the hood of what appears to be the newest addition to the Hyundai N family.
Strictly speaking, Hyundai still hasn't come flat out and admitted that the Kona N is a real thing, but it would be hard to mistake the hood shown in the teaser for anything else. This will mark the first crossover to join the ranks since the N performance badge was born overseas with the 2017 Hyundai i30 N, and expanded to the US with the Hyundai Veloster N in 2019.
Word has it that the Kona N will be propelled by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder sending out 250 to 275 horsepower to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission like the one available in the refreshed Veloster N.
Performance-oriented crossovers have become vastly more popular over the past few years as automakers have sought to keep their performance badges relevant even as cars continue to lose ground to utility vehicles. After decades of being reserved for small, heavily styled hot hatches, Ford's ST brand has grown in recent years to encompass high-performance versions of the Edge and Explorer. BMW was ahead of the curve with M-badged versions of some of its X crossover models starting a decade ago.
Before the Hyundai Kona N launches, the automaker will introduce a sporty, N-badged version of its Elantra compact car for the 2022 model year, making use of the same 275-hp turbo-four and electronic limited-slip differentia as the Veloster N.