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.
  • It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that 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 new high-performance Kona N is the first crossover to join the Korean automaker’s N performance brand (N for its Namyang R&D Center and the Nürburgring). It’ll push the brand into more relevance—electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell N m0dels are possible down the line, too—and we’re sure we’ll appreciate this small performance ute. 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 (and up to 286 hp with the N Grin Shift overboost mode). It sends torque exclusively to the front wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which was recently added to the Veloster, and an electronic limited-slip differential. Hyundai says that it’s not offering an all-wheel-drive version because it would be heavier and more expensive. The N Grin Shift overboost mode gives the Kona N an additional 10 ponies for 20 seconds and is engaged via a red button on the steering wheel (the Veloster N DCT gets this, too). Hyundai claims the Kona N will reach 62 mph in 5.5 seconds with a top speed of 150 mph. In our testing, the Veloster N DCT reached 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

    The Kona N looks the part with its more pronounced aerodynamic tidbits and added vents above the grille, but it’s no wider or lower than a standard Kona. The subcompact crossover’s wacky styling pairs well with the red accents and dual exhaust tips out back. 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 overboost function. This example is finished in the new Kona N–exclusive Sonic Blue, which is a lighter, more subtle take on the Veloster N’s vibrant Performance Blue. The interior gets Performance Blue trim.

    Like the updated 2022 Kona, N models receive a new digital gauge cluster and 10.0-inch touchscreen in addition to a head-up display. A new N mode display on the infotainment screen has 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. in the fall, and pricing is expected to start around $35,000.

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