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The Hyundai Kona N is a Bold Step Into the High-Performance Small SUV Sphere

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If Conan the Barbarian was looking for a practical and powerful small SUV, chances are decent he'd opt for the new Kona N - which he'd promptly rename "KonaN"! The Korean automaker's first small high-performance SUV was unveiled today – online, of course.

Developed by Hyundai's N division, dedicated to producing high-performance models, the new Kona N is powered by a 2.0L direct-injection 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The engine drives the front wheels, it should be noted - the Kona N cannot be equipped with the all-wheel drive system offered on the mass-market Kona. However, with 276 to 286 hp (depending on the engine management system setting) and 289 lb-ft of torque, it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds (in "Launch Control" mode) and allows a top speed of 240 km/h.

The engine management system also provides three modes of operation for the transmission. They have names that are as evocative as they are whimsical: NGS (N Grin Shift), NPS (N Power Shift) and NTS (N Track Sense Shift)! This model also features an electronic limited-slip differential to better distribute torque between the two drive wheels, as well as electronic stability control with variable modes.

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2022 Hyundai Kona N, three-quarters front
Photo: Hyundai
2022 Hyundai Kona N, three-quarters front

The exterior is spiced up with red accents typical of these high-performance models and features a redesigned front end with a small N-shaped grille flanked by large air intakes to cool the engine. The 19-inch alloy wheels are shod with Pirelli P Zero. In addition, a prominent rear spoiler tops the tailgate, while a redesigned bumper highlights the dual-tip exhaust system.

With its high-quality Alcantara seats, this N model clearly stands out from other Konas. The price is expected to follow suit, but we’ll know the exact damage later - the manufacturer has not yet announced pricing for our market, or the launch date in Canada for that matter.

2022 Hyundai Kona N, interior
Photo: Hyundai
2022 Hyundai Kona N, interior

Recall that Hyundai launched its N division at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015. This counterpart to AMG (Mercedes-Benz) and M (BMW) got the mandate to develop high-performance models designed to “accelerate the driver's heart rate as soon as he or she gets behind the wheel,” as the automaker puts it.

The 2019 Veloster N Coupe was the first model in this exclusive product line to be offered in Canada. That pocket rocket features a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Finally, it should be noted once again that, unlike the N versions, the "N Line" versions found in several Hyundai product lines are essentially common versions that simply adopt a sporty appearance.

2022 Hyundai Kona N, three-quarters rear
Photo: Hyundai
2022 Hyundai Kona N, three-quarters rear
Photos:Hyundai
2022 Hyundai Kona N pictures