Hyundai today unveiled the Kona N in Seoul. It’s the latest offering in its N sport series. If this was Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this might be the racy SUV in the Hyundai lineup that is declared just right.
The powertrain delivers a maximum output of 280 PS / 40.0 kg-m or as we Americans like to call it, 276 horsepower. With N Grin Shift, the power rises to 290 PS, also known as 286 horsepower.
For comparison sake, the stock Kona delivers 147 horsepower. The N almost doubles that output.
Kona N is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged GDI engine with an 8-speed wet dual clutch transmission (N DCT). N DCT is the enhanced version of Hyundai’s in-house developed 8DCT, an eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission. To make it suitable for N models, the 8DCT received improvements in durability, allowing it to handle the demands of high-performance vehicles.
With the 2.0-liter T-GDI engine, it gives the best performance by applying unique gear ratios. The transmission control unit is calibrated for N, resulting in faster shifting and enabling a range of exclusive driving features ― including N Grin Shift (NGS), N Power Shift (NPS) and N Track Sense Shift (NTS) — that maximize driving exhilaration.
According to Hyundai, the engine offers flat power that ensures high responsiveness and improved acceleration for even more fun on the road or on the racetrack, thereby utilizing more of the engine’s potential. KONA N has a maximum speed of 160 mph (take that German Autobahn) and can accelerate from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, when launch control is activated.
Hyundai Motor implemented N Corner Carving Differential, an electronic limited slip differential (E-LSD) on Kona N for control of torque distribution to driving wheels. Kona N also is equipped with 19-inch lightweight forged wheels with high-performance brakes and tires.
There is one feature that absolutely most come to North America. For Europe, Kona N is equipped with N Road Sense that automatically recommends the activation of N mode when double-curved road signs are detected, enabling drivers to enjoy every second of their drive to the fullest.
Even at the base trim, Kona N comes with launch control, variable exhaust system and most notably N Grin Control System, offering the same driving fun at all levels. N Grin Control System offers customers a high level of customization, with five distinct drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom. According to Hyundai, these drive modes change the character of the all-new Kona N by adjusting the operating parameters of the engine, electronic stability control, exhaust sound, and steering to optimize them for a variety of driving conditions.
The body’s extra welding points, improved strut ring structure and reinforced skeleton enhance rigidity to minimize body roll during maneuvers.
Kona N’s front lip spoiler, double-wing roof spoiler and side skirts enhance aerodynamic efficiency and provide styling cues that declare its racetrack readiness. The wide lower air intake dominates the front bumper with a shape inspired by an aeronautic fuselage, providing much-needed engine cooling during hot laps and spirited driving. The double-wing roof spoiler, which is integrated with an N-specific triangular brake light, enhances downforce while providing visual flair.
What do you think? Is the Hyundai Kona N an exciting SUV or just hype? Comment below.
Keith Griffin covers Hyundai and Kia at Torque News. He has been writing continuously about cars since 2002. Keith used to be a researcher/writer for US News & World Report, as well as numerous car sites, including Carfax and Car Gurus, and a contributor to The Boston Globe. Most recently, Keith was the managing editor for American Business Media. Follow Keith at @indepthauto on Twitter, on @LinkedIn and on his Indepth Auto Facebook page.