The Kona crossover has become the fifth Hyundai to gain an N-badged performance variant, after the i20, i30, i30 Fastback and Veloster hatchbacks – and arrives as the firm announces a plan to expand its N and N-Line range to 18 by the end of 2022.
The Kona N has now been priced up ahead of its imminent arrival in UK dealerships, with a price tag of £35,395 placing it squarely between the Ford Puma ST and Volkswagen T-Roc R in the emerging performance crossover market. Only one trim grade is available from launch, but buyers can opt for a non-standard paint finish for an extra £300-£565.
However, the Kona N has more in common with the i30 N than the hot new i20, bringing a raft of “motorsport-inspired” features aimed at enhancing performance and improving the driving experience.
A turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine sends 276bhp and 289lb ft (figures roughly comparable to those of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport) to the front axle via Hyundai’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the N DCT, which promises “better acceleration and a faster upshift”.
This gearbox offers three ‘high-performance’ modes that Hyundai says are “sure to bring a grin to the driver’s face”. The first, N Power Shift, is engaged when accelerator input exceeds 90%. It works to mitigate any loss of torque during upshifts to provide a smoother acceleration curve, accompanied by a backfire from the exhaust.
N Grin Shift provides a 20-second burst of maximum performance by instantly shifting down to the “most appropriate gear”. Hyundai says this mode (which can only be used every 40 seconds) will be especially useful on track and will help on the road with merging and overtaking. The final mode, N Track Sense Shift, is geared towards circuit driving, optimising gearchanges based on driver behaviour for quick lap times.