Hyundai challenges the Germans for hot crossover supremacy.
This is the one we've been waiting for. The 2022 Hyundai Kona N is the hot crossover that's set to challenge the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz like never before. No, it's not a supercar killer by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have serious power and performance, upgraded features, and enhanced styling bundled up for a package that'll be a hoot to drive. And like every Hyundai past and present, it'll be an excellent value.
The Kona N has been in the works for quite some time. The South Korean automaker released a few teasers along the way, so it's no secret a high-performance version of the Kona was in the works. It is the latest addition to the N performance brand that already includes the excellent Veloster N. Hyundai has more N models coming but today it's the Kona N that owns the spotlight.
Beginning with the already stylish standard Kona, designers and engineers got to work. Enhancements include body-colored fenders that not only extend the vehicle's width but also provide a close-to-the-ground appearance. A set of N-specific 19-inch lightweight forged wheels wearing sticky tires boast a wider track than the base wheel offerings. Aerodynamic upgrades are impressive with a front lip spoiler and side skirts. The double-wing roof spoiler aids in downforce and it even has an integrated F1-inspired triangular brake light
Additional air is sucked into the engine thanks to the wide lower intakes located on the front bumper. Its shape was inspired by an aeronautic fuselage, Hyundai says.
Hyundai even created a new exterior color unique to the N brand: Sonic Blue. It's similar to the Performance Blue already available on the Veloster N. For now the Kona N is the sole model in the lineup that offers it.
The interior design of the base Kona still remains intact but there are some notable upgrades. There's a new 10-inch infotainment and digital cluster with a unique racing head-up display for a "game-like dimension" for drivers when they're engaged in N or Sport drive modes. Additional enhancements include Performance Blue color accents, sport bucket seats, customizable N buttons, a special shift knob, and metal pedals. And yes, there's even a lap timer.
Aside from the above, the Kona N retains the five-passenger layout with the same amount of cargo space as the standard model. That's great news for anyone desiring a performance-packed B segment crossover with sufficient space and overall usability for daily driving needs.
The heart of the Kona N is, of course, its powertrain setup. Under the hood lies a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 276 horsepower. This increases to 286 hp with the N Grin Shift feature. Power is routed to the front wheels only through the same eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission that's newly optional in the Veloster N. Hyundai claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds with launch control activated. Top speed is 149 mph. Why no AWD option? Because the added weight wouldn't make a justifiable performance difference.
The N Grin Control system is noteworthy because it provides drivers with five distinct driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, N, and Custom) that all adjust the character of the engine, exhaust sound, and steering to accommodate an array of driving conditions. A set of high-performance brakes aid in stopping power. An electronic limited-slip differential aids in controlling torque distribution to the driving wheels.
Hyundai hasn't announced pricing at this time, nor when the Kona N will go on sale. What we do know is that it'll be a 2022 model and its price tag should be somewhat similar to that of the Veloster N, which begins at $33,750 with the optional DCT.
In some ways, the Hyundai Kona N is embarking on new ground. The only high-performance subcompact crossovers currently on the market come from luxury brands are the BMW X2 M35i and the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45. Both offer turbo fours with similar performance capabilities but cost thousands more. The BMW begins at around $45,500 while the Mercedes can't be had for anything less than $54,000. The Kona N may not carry the same prestige as those two, but it'll more than hold its own at the track.