This year, Hyundai’s N performance subbrand takes on its first SUV: the Kona N subcompact crossover. The division’s engineers have already worked their magic on the Veloster hatchback, and the result impressed us with its turbocharged four-cylinder, stiff suspension, and sharp handling—all of which you’ll find in the Kona N. All the typical sporty elements are present on the exterior: blacked-out grille, creased and hole-punched hood, large air intakes, sleek and simple light signatures, N badges, low-profile tires, a dual exhaust, and a red pinstripe along the bottom edges of the spoiler, side skirts, and diffuser. Inside, a red button on the perforated steering wheel just begs to be pressed. It engages the over-boost mode, upping the 276-hp fleet to 286 for 20 seconds. Suedelike seat coverings, more N badges, and Performance Blue accents round out the package.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Behind the Kona N’s aggressive-looking, well-vented nose sits the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that motivates the sportiest Veloster. In most situations, it makes 276 horses, but press the red button on the steering wheel and you’ll call up an additional 10 ponies for a 20-second burst. Unsurprisingly, the crossover doesn’t offer its smaller sibling’s manual transmission. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic handles the shifting duties and routes torque to the front wheels only. We drove one recently and had a blast tossing it into corners and engaging the over-boost function. Yeah, the steering could be a hint quicker, but we appreciate the level of feedback that the helm provides. We also wish the Kona N had more sound insulation, as a fair bit of road noise plagues the cabin at highway speeds, but the tiny ute’s performance somewhat makes up for that.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA hasn’t released fuel economy estimates for the Kona N, but we expect the performance model to be less efficient than the regular one. We’ll eventually have a chance to test out the Kona N’s highway fuel economy on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test route. For more information about Kona N’s fuel economy.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
In contrast to stitching, mode buttons, and shifter knob, the N brand’s signature color—Performance Blue—adds some much-needed brightness to the all-black interior. We’ll check out the size of its cargo hold in due time, but there’s a very good chance the Kona N will accommodate the same amount of luggage behind its rear seats (i.e., four carry-on-sized suitcases) as the regular Kona.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The digital gauge cluster measures 10.3 inches and looks adequately modern, but you’ll hardly need to glance at it, given there’s a dash-mounted head-up display to show you how fast you’re going. Underlining the Kona N’s sporting intentions, the 10.3-inch infotainment screen will present racetrack-minded Kona N owners—all five of them—with track maps and lap-monitoring information on request. Other features of note: Harman/Kardon brings the noise with an eight-speaker setup