Hyundai has unveiled the first-ever high-performance SUV for the non-premium market segment, and the first SUV from its N division. Meet the Kona N. It will go on sale in Australia during the third quarter of this year.
Considering this is an N car, let’s jump straight into that engine. The Hyundai Kona N is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged GDI four-cylinder which is paired to Hyundai’s new eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission. It throws out 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque, which increases to 213kW with Hyundai’s ‘N Grin Shift’ setting enabled – we’ll come to that in just a minute.
The result is a top speed of 240km/h, and a 0-100km/h time of 5.5 seconds when the Kona’s launch control system is activated – yep, the Kona N has launch control. No doubt helping with the acceleration is the standard fitment of an electronic limited-slip differential. It needs this as the Kona N is front-wheel drive only. Hyundai’s development chief, Albert Biermann, says all-wheel drive would add too much weight. However, it means there isn’t much distinction between it and the upcoming i30 N, which shares the same powertrain and hardware.
The limited-slip diff also helps the SUV carve through corners and to ensure every member of the family is truly car sick. Hyundai says that thanks to extra welding points across the chassis, the Kona’s body roll has been reduced compared with the regular Kona, while there is the increased ride height over an i30 N.
The transmission offers something called N Grin Shift, or NGS for short, which supplies that extra 7kW of power. There’s also N Power Shift (NPS) and N Track Sense Shift (NTS) modes to play with, which help to improve torque during gear shifts and adapt to driving attitudes, such as on the track.
In other areas, the Kona N comes with 19-inch lightweight, forged wheels, as well as high performance brakes, and a variable exhaust system. Looking around the body, Hyundai’s styling tweaks to the Kona no doubt signal that this is a faster, more muscular variant than the standard Kona, with special touches like a front lip spoiler, side skirts, double-wing roof spoiler and widened air intakes. Hyundai’s N division has also created a special paint finish option called Sonic Blue, exclusive (at this point) to the Kona N.
Inside, Hyundai says that its new 10-inch infotainment system and 10-inch digital instrument cluster and racing-inspired head-up display make the Kona N feel like a real-life gaming experience. Drive modes are incorporated into the infotainment system, which can record lap times and even map out where you sit on a racetrack; for those interested in taking their SUV to a track day. There are the usual host of performance highlights for the interior as well, applied to the seats, steering wheel, gear lever and metal pedals.
In terms of safety equipment, Hyundai says the Kona N will receive its full suite of safety technologies, including smart cruise control, safe exit warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot collision avoidance, high beam assist, driver attention warning, lane keep assist and forward collision assist. Albert Biermann spoke about the new model in a statement, saying:
“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. Kona N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving.”