In case you were doubtful, Hyundai is taking this N-brand quite seriously. The digital press conference officially introducing the Kona N was also an opportunity for Hyundai to re-iterate their dogged commitment to performance unveiling a new brand positioning for N as well – Never just drive. We’ve heard it all before from performance brands but actions speak louder than words and Hyundai’s actions speak volumes. With rally wins, endurance wins and touring car wins under its belt, you can hardly fault Hyundai in its drive to build this performance arm and then translate that into competitive sales.
Focused on Performance and Smiles
The Kona N is the next product to help with that. Based on the new Kona, the Kona N is a performance-focused small SUV. Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine with an 8-speed dual clutch transmission, the Kona N speaks the same numbers as the updated i30N that hasn’t hit out shores just yet. 206kW of power and 240km/h top speed is serious go for a little hot SUV. And it features launch control and an overboost function that will give you an additional 7kW of power for a 20-second period while you leg it from 0 – 100km/h in 5,4-seconds.
The Kona N is front-wheel driven but fitted with a LSD and 19-inch lightweight alloys. Hyundai has optimised the steering and chassis and improved rigidity on the body structure for less body roll and better cornering ability.
It’s all rolled up into a plethora of customisable maps for each of the driver-interested control systems – the steering, the exhaust system, the transmission and the engine. Hyundai’s marketing team has gone to town with naming all of these and they’re quite amusing to say the least. The transmission sports 3 modes named N Grin Shift (NGS), N Power Shift (NPS) and N Track Sense Shift (NTS). Then the driving modes themselves are housed within the N Grin Control System with 5 distinct driving modes. These are Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom. Customised driving set up can be accessed immediately from the N mode buttons on the sports steering wheel.
The Kona N offers a high level of digital coolness or gamification. The 10-inch infotainment and digital driver’s display offers a number of sportscar focused information features and layouts in addition to a racing heads-up display as well. A feature that we’re not sure will be included in SA-bound cars is the track map which allows real-time placement on race tracks but that aside, the system features g-meters and lap timers and all manner of info that is supposedly important when you're at the race track.
The question is – will the Kona N see many a track day? Probably not and the fact that it is still an SUV makes it a versatile player for those seeking something a little more exciting. Hyundai’s development brief was to still ensure the Kona remained practical and capable and it’s one of the reasons the Kona hasn’t been significantly lowered.
Look at the flared wheel arches, the large alloys, that red lip surrounding the car and that cool dual-wing with triangular brake light and you’re left in no doubt that the Kona N is intent on performance. It stands significantly more aggressively than its normal sibling. Hyundai offers the Kona N in an exclusive Sonic Blue colour – this will probably be rolled out into other N-cars at a later stage but for now this is the first. That said, Kona N is also offered in 6 other colours including the one you know – the Performance Blue.
Step inside and you’ll note the use of Performance blue on the stitching, the steering wheel paddles, the gear selector and some. It seems tastefully done as Hyundai N does. Seat options seem to be a choice of cloth / leather sports seats but we’d guess Hyundai SA will only opt for the leather pew option. This is yet to be determined.
The Kona N is packed with Hyundai’s array of safety features. The Advanced Driver Assistance System is a grouping of features including a smart adaptive cruise control feature, collision avoidance feature, lane keeping assistance, blind spot assistance and more.
Hyundai SA has planned to bring the new Kona, Kona N and a Kona N-line into the country before the close of the year. The product strategy will allow pricing competitiveness and give consumers better choice, something that seems to have worked for Hyundai SA competitors. Think R-line and Black Packages and you’ll get the picture. Globally, the Kona N has the Ford Puma ST and Mini Clubman S in its sites. Here at home, we think the Hyundai Kona N will be looking to snatch customers from long-standing hot hatch relationships. Pricing will be key.
Pricing on the Hyundai Kona N will be confirmed nearer to the local launch.