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.
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.
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.