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Hyundai’s first SUV in its sporting N lineup. Lots of potential…

Hyundai Kona N (21 on) - rated 0 out of 5
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  • The 280hp engine is a peach
  • A genuinely sporty driving experience
  • Should be as practical as regular Kona


  • A bit too sporty
  • Harsh ride
  • Regular hot hatches are cheaper

Hyundai Kona N rivals

Written by Murray Scullion on

Hyundai has added an SUV to its growing N line up. If the regular Kona is a Korma, this Kona N is a Vindaloo.

Sporting a 280hp turbocharged engine, 19-inch alloy wheels and a crackling exhaust, it's aimed at people who want the practical benefits of an SUV, but the driving experience of a hot-hatch.

Rivals include the i30 N which it shares mechanical parts, as well as the Volkswagen T-Roc R that also follows the hot-hatch/SUV mashup formula.

What about the performance?

Performance-wise, it's up to the task. Up front is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine borrowed from the i30 N. It produces 280hp and 392Nm of torque, which it sends to the front wheels.

There is no manual on offer. Buyers will have to pick an eight-speed DSG-style automatic gearbox, complete with paddles behind the steering wheel that allows you to change gears.

The 0-62mph times are unconfirmed for now, but it felt quick. Not too far off the i30 N hot hatch.

What's it like to drive?

We've driven a pre-production prototype as you can tell by that snazzy camouflage. This means we haven't driven the final product yet. In its current, unfinished form, it's a bit manic. Our test route was mainly on greasy B-roads, where the car struggled to put all of its power down on the road without wheelspin.

Like with most new cars, there are driving modes on offer. Each differs the throttle mapping and the electronic suspension. The results are stark. In Comfort mode the car rides acceptably, but in anything else the ride is very hard and uncomfortable.

Most buyers are willing to trade comfort for driving fun, and with this in mind, there's broadly a good mix between the two. It feels as fast as the horsepower figure would suggest. Despite being turbocharged, there's very little in the way of turbo lag - you never feel like you're waiting on the power to 'come on.'

Despite its height it doesn't feel top heavy. There's strong feedback through the wheel which gives you great confidence in exactly where the wheels are pointing. The steering is direct too - taking few turns to go from lock to lock.

The eight-speed automatic fires off orders at a rapid rate, and there's an audible pop and bang from the exhaust under some circumstances. Depending on your outlook this is either awesome or awful.

How about the regular stuff?

It should be just about as practical as a regular Kona. Bootspace and dimensions are unconfirmed, but they should be pretty close to the normal car. So expect a 360ish-litre boot, and room for kids and child seats.

The N will be available with Hyundai's SmartSense safety range, also found in the regular Kona.

Highlights include

Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist
Smart Cruise Control 
Leading Vehicle Departure Alert 
Intelligent Speed Limit Warning
Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with vehicle, pedestrian and optional cyclist detection
Terrain mode selection: suspension and traction control for outdoor activities
Performance Driving Data System to monitor and improve track skills
10.25-inch fully digital cluster and 10.25-inch AVN touchscreen

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

Hyundai Kona N rivals

Other Hyundai Kona models: