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Kona N arrives as Hyundai’s first hot SUV

On the march: The Kona N is the first SUV to come from Hyundai’s go-fast N Division.

Hyundai’s hot N model onslaught continues with front-drive Kona N SUV


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16 Nov 2021

THE Kona N is the third offering from Hyundai’s famed N-Division and the brand’s first hot SUV. 


Launching in Australia this week, the Kona N builds on the reputation of its i20 N and i30 N hatch siblings, the two-variant range combining a 206kW turbo four with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and electronic limited slip differential to deliver what Hyundai says is the ultimate in capability on road and circuit.


Priced from $47,500 plus on-road costs, the Kona N maintains the flexible and practical SUV traits of its donor model and comes equipped with a high level of comfort, technology, and safety features. 


“With the addition of the practical and racetrack-capable high-performance Kona N, as part of a technology-packed Kona line-up that also includes the zero-emission Kona EV, we now offer a compact SUV for every customer,” said Hyundai Motor Company Australia CEO Jun Heo.


“Kona N enters the market with no direct competitors, which represents a prime opportunity not only for the N brand, but for a nameplate that is already one of our most successful.”


Featuring the same turbo four as found under the bonnet of the recently updated i30 N, the Kona N is offered with an active variable exhaust and a high-performance brake package, as well as unique ‘N Mode’ and ‘N Grin Control’ switchable electronic traction control systems. 


The direct injected engine develops 206kW between 5500 and 6000rpm with 213kW available for 20 seconds in overboost mode. Hyundai’s Flat Power tuning philosophy ensures a broad torque curve, the Kona N producing 392Nm between 2100 and 4700rpm.


Weighing in at 1510kg and claimed to accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, the Kona is the fastest-accelerating N car to date. Top speed is listed at 240km/h.


Hyundai says its eight-speed wet clutch DCT provides motorsport-inspired shift logic and can alter its shift points to suit a variety of driving styles. The gearbox is capable of dropping gears automatically on approach to corners or may be operated manually via paddles.


The transmission works in step with the electronic diff to “provide maximum performance under acceleration and during cornering”, Hyundai says, and is able to mitigate understeer through two driver-selectable modes – Normal and Sport.


Like other N models, the Kona N benefits from additional structural reinforcement with added spot welding through the A, B, and C-pillar and bolt-on bracing beneath the floor. New front strut-top rings reinforce the connection between the front suspension and the body, offering increased chassis rigidity compared to the standard model.


The Kona N features three-mode electronic control suspension (ECS) that Hyundai says can continuously adapt to road conditions at a rate of 200 times per second.


Both the suspension and the electronic stability control system were tuned in Australia, Hyundai saying the pairing operates “seamlessly and intuitively on our challenging local roads”.


“High performance and SUV are not often associated, yet they actually fit hand-in-racing-glove in this case,” said HMCA product planning and development specialist Tim Rodgers.


“Some people may look at an SUV and think of negatives that packaging might bring to the handling. But, with ECS, we can leverage those SUV qualities to our advantage. This made the Kona N a really satisfying car to tune.


“Having some extra damper stroke to play with, for example, really let us control the car in a sophisticated way, which broadens the scope of what ECS can do (compared with a lower vehicle),” he said.


Riding on 19-inch alloys shod with “relatively chunky” 235/40 Pirelli P Zero HN tyres, the Kona N has beefed-up 360mm brake rotors up front with high-friction sintered brake pads set in red-painted N brake calipers.


“There is a little bit more sidewall in the tyres as well, so that’s a bit of an advantage for us in tuning for comfort in a dynamically focused model, and the Kona N has a 50mm-shorter wheelbase than the i30 N, which actually gives it a slight edge when it comes to ultimate agility.” Mr Rodgers added.


“The aim was to make the Kona N really pliant and comfortable when it needs to be, yet also chuckable, aggressive, and agile when dialled right up. In developing the tune of the most hardcore N Mode, we opted for maximum track-attack, building in a higher level of lift-off oversteer.


“The combination of ECS with refined geometry, the e-LSD, and the P Zeros gives the Kona N incredible amounts of grip. The aim is for drivers of all abilities to enjoy this vehicle, on track and road. We really wanted it to be really predictable, and really fun – and the Kona N can be quicker than the i30 N in some situations.” he added.


The Kona N is equipped with Hyundai’s new Track Maps feature that automatically alerts drivers when they are near a compatible racetrack and starts a lap time as the start/finish line is crossed.


Wearing a body kit, an N-specific grille, blacked-out Hyundai logo and wing mirror caps, and a rear diffuser sporting an LED fog light and dual exhaust outlets, the Kona N is unlikely to be mistaken for a regular grocery-getting model.


Equipment includes a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and separate 10.25-inch infotainment array with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity, in-built satellite navigation, and DAB+ digital radio reception.


Cloth sports seats are fitted to the Kona N with Kona N Premium models scoring leather and suede combination pews. They’re teamed with a leather-appointed steering wheel, gearshift knob and handbrake cover with Performance Blue contrasting stitching throughout.


The Premium variant also receives a head-up display, power adjustable seats, front seat heating and ventilation, front parking sensors, LED interior ambient lighting, and a glass sunroof.


The Kona N also includes a Qi wireless phone charging pad and eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system alongside an extensive list of Hyundai’s SmartSense driver assistance and safety technologies plus full LED exterior lighting.


Forward collision-avoidance assist, driver attention monitoring, lane keeping and lane following assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, smart exit warning, and a reversing camera are all included as standard.


Speaking at the international launch of the Kona N earlier this year, president and head of Hyundai Motor Company’s R&D division, Albert Biermann, said the front-wheel drive configuration was chosen for its combination of fun, simplicity and cost-effectiveness.


As a result, the Kona N model range starts in Australia from less than $50,000.


“In the winter-time, depending on where you live, if you put a good set of winter tyres on the Kona N, you’ll have no problem to keep the fun going … I tested the Kona N in Sweden and I have to say it’s a real winter beast … we have a deep snow mode that you keep that fun going, even on a slippery, snowy road,” he said.


“Why carry around the all-wheel drive system all year long and why adding all the cost – our N story is also to be the best fun-per-dollar. Kona N is clearly following the script, and then it was easy to decide front-wheel drive, the way we tuned it, the way we deliver it, is the right way to go.”


The Kona N is available in a choice of seven solid, metallic, and mica paint colours, the latter adding $595 to the list price. Matte finishes add $1000. 


Hyundai backs the Kona N with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and roadside assistance package and lifetime capped-price servicing. Service intervals are set at 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first, and are priced at $335 each for the first five years.


Visit GoAuto again soon for our road and track review of the 2022 Hyundai Kona N and the 2022 Hyundai i20 N.


2022 Hyundai Kona N pricing*


Kona N 2.0GDi    (a)        $47,500    (new model)

Kona N Premium 2.0 GDi (a)    $50,500    (new model)


*Pricing excludes on-road costs.

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30th of September 2021

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