The Hyundai Kona N Is a Hot Hatch for the Crossover Era
There's no official word on whether the long-rumored Kona N will come to the U.S.
Hyundai of Europe announced the Kona SUV is the next vehicle to get the full N treatment. Details are scant in the teaser release, but they confirm the Kona N will share its 2.0-liter engine and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N.
The Kona N will be the first Hyundai SUV to get the N treatment, and—if we assume the same output as the Veloster N and Elantra N—its engine will likely produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. That'd make the Kona N a credible competitor to compact performance SUVs such as the Mercedes-AMG GLA35 and the Mini John Cooper Works Countryman.
Five years ago, we'd have laughed off the idea of Hyundai making a sporty SUV that could seriously take on the Germans. But five years ago, ex-BMW M chief Albert Biermann had only just been hired on at Hyundai. Now that we've sampled his wares, we are salivating at the idea of an N-ized Hyundai SUV.
Will our desire be satiated? We asked our local Hyundai PR team about plans for the Kona N, and they responded with "Please stay tuned for official news from the Hyundai North American PR team." That either means there's a press release in the works, or they're going to pretend the Kona N doesn't exist as they launch the Elantra N on our shores, as well as the Elantra N Line and Sonata N Line, which are not as hot as the full-on Ns but still pretty darn impressive. (The updated 2022 Kona gets an N Line model, as well, but unlike the Elantra and Sonata N Line models, the Kona N Line is an appearance package with no performance upgrades.)
Europeans already get to enjoy two N models that won't come stateside: the half-pint i20 N, based on a city car too small for the American market, and the i30 N, which until recently was sold here in non-N form as the Elantra GT. But the Kona is already here and it meets U.S. safety standards, so we can't see any logical reason not to bring it to the States—but Hyundai doesn't always act logically. We'll keep our fingers crossed, and our corny "KonaN the Barbarian" jokes at the ready.