3.2 out of 5 3.2
Parkers overall rating: 3.2 out of 5 3.2

Hyundai’s first sporty SUV is fast, but is it fun?

Hyundai Kona N (21 on) - rated 3.2 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £35,745 - £35,745
Lease from new From £501 p/m View lease deals
Used price £31,815 - £34,915
Used monthly cost From £794 per month
Fuel Economy 32.8 mpg
Road tax cost £155
Insurance group 27 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • The 280hp engine is a peach
  • Great infotainment system
  • Should be as practical as regular Kona

CONS

  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Harsh ride for a family car
  • Other hot SUVs are more fun

Hyundai Kona N rivals

Written by Alan Taylor-Jones on

Is the Hyundai Kona N any good?

Hyundai’s highly acclaimed N range has grown with a significantly sportier take on the Kona crossover. Featuring a 280hp turbocharged engine, 19-inch alloy wheels and a host of donor parts from the i30 N its designed to marry performance with practicality. 

Although you could argue Hyundai's i30 N hot hatch with which it shares mechanical parts is a rival, we'd argue hot SUVs like the Volkswagen T-Roc R and Ford Puma ST, are more natural competitors.

There's no doubting it's got the performance to go toe-to-toe with the aforementioned rivals, but we have our reservations about its handling and usability. Read on to find out more.

2021 Hyundai Kona N dash

What's it like inside?

The Kona N's interior follows a formula that's shared with other N branded cars. You grasp a perforated leather steering wheel with pale blue buttons to access the various drive modes on offer whilst sat on figure-hugging sports seats.

There's a bit more perforated leather on the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox's shifter and N specific displays for the infotainment and digital driver's display. 

2021 Hyundai Kona N seats

Although that all sounds great, the Kona's usual foibles remain. The large swathes of hard plastic on the dash and doors looks cheap in a base model, let alone one that costs over £30,000. You also have cramped rear seats and a relatively small boot for the class.

Still, the infotainment system's display is crisp and the menus are easy to fathom. If you want to know more about that along with the space and practicality, have a look at our main Hyundai Kona review.

2021 Hyundai Kona N front

What's it like to drive?

The Kona N is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and it’s far from underpowered: as well as that 280hp power output, it also has 392Nm torque. It all goes through the front-wheels, and Hyundai claims a 5.5-second 0-62mph sprint time if you use the as-standard launch control, and a top speed of 149mph.

To get that level of acceleration, the Kona N comes exclusively with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that's capable of rapid gear shifts, and a limited slip differential that boosts traction. Adaptive suspension that you can stiffen and soften is also standard equipment.

There’s also a dedicated button on the steering wheel for something called N Grin Shift. It’s essentially the same as Porsche’s Sport Response button, maximising engine and gearbox performance for a 20-second burst of fury. One more thing: N Track Sense Shift. The Kona N recognises when you’re on a race track, taking braking and cornering into account to select the right gear for you.

2021 Hyundai Kona N rear

So, how does all that work on the road? Well, the limited slip diff certainly does its best to limit wheelspin by channeling power to the wheel with the most grip. Unfortunately it means the steering wheel writhes in your hands during hard acceleration.

This is offputting on smooth roads, but heavily cambered and bumpy surfaces can make it tricky to keep the Kona N in its lane if you deploy all 280hp. And although the suspension can be adjusted, even the nomal mode is stiff while N mode is downright unusable on the road.

The stiffness does mean there isn't much body lean which helps it feel agile, yet it's still not as much fun as the more playful Puma ST. In other words, it's quick but not as much fun as it could be.

At least the gearbox is smooth in normal use and capable of rapid shifts in the racier modes. The engine also feels every bit as potent as the 280hp output would suggest.

Read on to see if we think it's worth waiting for...

Hyundai Kona N rivals

Other Hyundai Kona models: