For the past few years, Hyundai has been adding a new level of performance to its lineup with sportier N models and N Line variants. Today the Korean automaker announced that the stylish Kona crossover would be the latest recipient of full N treatment, joining the Veloster N and Elantra N. The N designation signifies more than simply additional power — N models have improved handling, sportier styling and better overall performance. The 2022 Hyundai Kona N will be the first N model with a crossover bodystyle.
“KONA N is a true hot SUV with the performance level of a hot hatch. It breaks the rule that SUVs are less fun to drive. As an N model, it goes beyond the limits of an ordinary SUV,” said Albert Biermann, president and head of the R&D division at Hyundai Motor Group. “KONA N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving,” noted Biermann.
N Model vs. N Line
Some confusion might exist between Hyundai N models and N Line variants, especially since the company has already announced a Kona N Line. The N Line variants can be described as “performance light” — receiving sportier design elements and some power upgrades — while full N models inherit the highest levels of Hyundai performance via maximum power, optimized handling and racetrack readiness.
The Kona receives a refreshed look for the 2022 model year, so it already stands out from other crossovers thanks to distinctive styling. The Kona N will be further differentiated as a high-performance model with body-color fenders that give the vehicle a wider stance, further accentuated by red pinstripes at the bottom of the front fascia, side skirts and rear valance. The large Hyundai logo has been moved to the center of the grille, and three vents between the lights add sporty flair. A wide lower air intake provides additional airflow to the Kona N’s more powerful engine. (The incredibly subtle Sonic Blue exterior color is also unique to the Kona N.)
The rear view of the 2022 Hyundai Kona N further accentuates this crossover’s performance orientation with a double-wing roof spoiler that features a unique triangular brake light. Two large exhaust outlets anchor the sporty rear view.
Under the Hood
The 2022 Hyundai Kona N will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engine producing up to 286 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque delivered to the front wheels. This powerful engine is teamed with an 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission enhanced to handle high-performance demands. Hyundai expects the Kona N will sprint to 62 mph in a mere 5.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of almost 150 mph.
In addition to the turbocharged engine, the Kona N gets an electronic limited-slip differential that distributes power for better handling, especially in corners at speed. Launch control and a variable exhaust system are standard equipment, as are high-performance brakes and 19-inch lightweight forged wheels shod with high-performance tires. Extra welding points, an improved strut ring structure and a reinforced frame provide higher levels of rigidity for improved handling and performance.
N Grin Control
With the 2022 Hyundai Kona N, the automaker offers a level of customization referred to as N Grin Control. The system features five drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom. These modes adjust the engine, stability control, exhaust note and steering to provide an appropriate level of performance depending on the driver’s wishes. A red N Grin Shift button on the steering wheel adds 10 horsepower for 20 seconds — similar to a video game turbo boost button.
As the centerpiece of the Kona N’s interior, a new 10-inch infotainment system also has a supplemental digital driver display. Showcasing this hot crossover’s true nature, an N mode provides track maps and lap times for a new level of entertainment. Further setting the Kona N apart from the rest of the lineup are Performance Blue accents on the steering wheel, shifter and seats. Customizable blue N buttons on the steering wheel allow drivers to quickly load preferences; the buttons can also be used to turn the lap timer on and off.
Given its designs on a spirited driving experience, the Kona N also makes safety a major part of its fun formula by featuring a long list of advanced driver-assist systems. These systems include forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, driver attention warning, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic avoidance, safe exit warning and adaptive cruise control.
The 2022 Hyundai Kona N is built for the enthusiast, but it doesn’t lose any versatility inherent in this small crossover. With decent cargo space and a roomy rear seat, the Kona N works well as an everyday driver — albeit one that is great fun to drive.
Hyundai will continue to expand the N model and N Line portfolio. In fact, the company plans to have 18 models with this performance treatment by 2022, representing every major vehicle segment, including electric and fuel-cell vehicles. “N addresses and adapts to the upcoming changes in the performance category,” said Till Wartenberg, vice president of N brand management and the motorsport sub-division at Hyundai. “Driving was never meant to be boring and with N it never will be,” Wartenberg enthused.
Coming This Fall
The high-performance 2022 Hyundai Kona N will arrive in showrooms later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.