2022 Hyundai Kona N Brings the Crossover to the Performance Side

  • The Hyundai Kona N joins the Korean automaker’s high-performance lineup as the first N SUV.
  • Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 286 horsepower with an N Grin Shift overboost function.
  • It has front-wheel drive, an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and an electronic limited-slip differential.

    Hyundai’s performance brand, N (for Namyang R&D center and the Nürburgring), has added the Kona N compact crossover to its portfolio. The Korean automaker hopes this body style—its first SUV—will push the subbrand more into the mainstream, and given the model’s similarities with the Veloster N, we have no reason to doubt its success. We adored our long-term Veloster N, which uses the same turbocharged engine as the Kona N, though the SUV won’t offer a manual gearbox (#SavetheManuals).

    In this application, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 276 horsepower under normal operation. It sends torque exclusively to the front wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which was recently added to the Veloster N, and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Hyundai, looking to keep the Kona N affordable and lightweight, has no plans to offer an all-wheel-drive variant, but an electric model (possibly with fuel-cell tech) may be forthcoming.

    When drivers want more power, they may select the red button on the steering wheel, which activates the N Grin Shift mode and gives the Kona N an additional 10 ponies for 20 seconds. (The dual-clutch Veloster N gets this too). Hyundai claims the Kona N will reach 62 mph in 5.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph. In our testing, the automatic-equipped Veloster N reached 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

    Compared with the base Kona, the N model features vents above the grille and has more pronounced aerodynamic tidbits, but it’s no wider or lower. Red accents and dual exhaust tips signal to passersby that this is the sporty model. Every Kona N gets launch control, 19-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero summer tires, a variable exhaust system that should provide plenty of snaps and pops, and the aforementioned overboost function. The pictured example is finished in the new Kona N–exclusive Sonic Blue. It’s meant to be a lighter, subtler take on the Veloster N’s vibrant Performance Blue, which is featured inside.

    Like the updated 2022 Kona, N models receive a new digital gauge cluster and 10.3-inch touchscreen in addition to a head-up display. A new N mode will pull up track maps, lap times, and performance gauges. The N buttons on either side of the steering wheel can be toggled to desired drive modes, and they can also start the lap timer.

    The 2022 Hyundai Kona N will arrive in the U.S. this fall, and we expect pricing to start around $35,000.

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