The 2022 Hyundai Kona N has finally been unveiled after numerous teasers hinting at the South Korean automaker’s high-performance small SUV.
Based on the recently-facelifted Hyundai Kona that’s also bound to arrive in the Philippines this year, the new Kona N is a lot different from the N Line model that’s mostly an aesthetic and handling upgrade. Upfront, you get an even more aggressive front clip with bigger air vents for better cooling. There are also red accents and unique 19-inch forged alloy wheels. Behind those wheels are bigger brakes with red calipers for better stopping power. At the back, you’ll see a double rear spoiler for better downforce, and underneath it is a triangular third brake light. There’s are also large dual exhausts and what is most likely a faux rear diffuser.
Inside, drivers will be greeted to a sportier interior that comes as standard with a fully digital gauge cluster and a 10-inch touch screen infotainment system. N-specific details include the new sports steering wheel, N-branded sport seats, alloy pedals, and various bits of Performance Blue accents, which is Hyundai N’s signature color.
It seems that Hyundai N was inspired by video games in designing the Kona N, which explains the new head-up display (HUD) that “adds a game-like dimension to every driving experience”. The ‘N mode design’ feature in the infotainment system also provides a “game-like experience with digitalized elements” and communicates updates such as lap time and N track maps that help place the driver’s location within the circuit along with other information.
For European markets, the Hyundai Kona N is equipped with N Road Sense that automatically recommends the activation of N mode when double-curved road signs are detected, which Hyundai says enables drivers “to enjoy every second of their drive to the fullest”.
Apart from these video game-inspired gimmicks, the Kona N is packed with actual performance. Under its hood is a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged gasoline engine that produces 276 hp and 392 Nm of torque. Mated to this engine is an 8-speed N wet dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) driving the front wheels. Yes, this does not have all-wheel drive (AWD) despite being a small SUV, nor even a manual transmission, which enthusiasts often demand in high-performance vehicles. With this powertrain, the Kona N accelerates from 0-100 kph in just 5.5 seconds, while top speed is at 240 kph.
Just like in the Veloster N hot hatch with the 8-speed DCT, the Kona N also features N Grin Shift. This strange-sounding feature increases power by 10 hp for 20 seconds. Other driving modes include N Power Shift, which activates during hard acceleration and optimizes upshifts while N Track Sense Shift optimizes shift times.
Hyundai N also spent a lot of effort in improving the Kona N’s handling. This small SUV is equipped with a new electronic limited-slip differential (E-LSD) in order for power to be distributed from side to side depending on the grip levels of each front wheel. In addition, the Kona N’s structure features extra welding points, improved strut ring structure, and a reinforced skeleton for enhancing rigidity and less body roll during maneuvers.
Of course as with many modern cars nowadays, the Hyundai Kona N is equipped with the latest in driver-assistance systems, such as automatic emergency braking, full-speed radar cruise control, lane departure warning, Hyundai’s excellent Lane Following Assist, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, just to name a few.
Hyundai has not yet announced when the Kona N will go on sale. What they did say is that the company will expand its N and N Line lineup to 18 models by 2022. We surely hope most of those will be the full N high-performance models.
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