In the 1970s, the ‘hot hatch’ appeared on the scene, bringing high-performance to a broader segment of customers. Now, in the 21st century where SUVs are the most popular models, Hyundai Motor has created a ‘hot SUV’ with its new Kona N, the first SUV model in its N high-performance brand line-up.
The Kona N was developed to offer customers the performance level of a hot hatch. It aims to make SUVs fun to drive, with potential for track use and not only everyday driving. “It goes beyond the limits of an ordinary SUV. Kona N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving,” promises Albert Biermann, President & Head of R&D Division at Hyundai Motor Group.
While the standard Kona already has distinctive looks, the Kona N gets even more individuality with the bold and dynamic language of N models. With a 4215 mm length, 1800 mm width, and 1565 mm height, the Kona N is 10 mm longer than the standard model and just as long as the new KONA sporty N Line trim (a different variant). The 2600 mm wheelbase is, however, the same as the standard car.
Designed with a focus on maximum weight reduction and high strength, the lightweight 19-inch forged alloy wheels add to a great stance and very sporty appearance. These are fitted with specially developed 235/40R19 Pirelli P-Zero high-performance tyres.
The high-performance braking system has been designed for stability in changing driving conditions to enhance safety. Enlarged front and rear disc brakes take in extra air through the bigger intakes on either side of the car’s front bumper for better cooling. The application of high friction caliper material, a lower arm guide, and a heat shield maximise brake performance with more efficient cooling and high heat endurance capacity.
The latest member of the N brand is powered by a 4-cylinder 2.0 T-GDI 280 ps/392 Nm petrol engine, coupled to an 8-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (N DCT). The N-DCT is said to offer the driver the engaging experience of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic transmission.
Developed by the Hyundai Motor Group, the N DCT is a wet-type transmission with two separated clutches for better acceleration and a faster upshift. The wet type clutches further provide for better cooling. N DCT technology was first offered in the Veloster N and then the i30 N as well.
It has 3 high-performance functions – N Power Shift, N Grin Shift, and N Track Sense Shift – that enhance the car’s capabilities by using dedicated shift logic management. N Power Shift, used while the Launch Control function is active, can send the Kona N from standstill to 100 km/h within a claimed 5.5 seconds.
Unlike a vehicle with a conventional automatic transmission, the car does not automatically ‘creep’ when the brake pedal is released (if transmission is in D position). The driver can choose to turn the creep off as required, for example when on the racetrack.
To embody the N product philosophy, the Kona N comes with high-performance features such as an Electronic Limited Slip Differential (e-LSD) and the various Electronic Stability Control modes have been optimised to improve cornering. Traction Mode ensures that traction can be established across a variety of road conditions while N Grin Control System offers 5 drive that contribute to its everyday sports car character.
Although having the external appearance and form of a SUV, inside the car are various motorsport-inspired features that include special sports seats and an ‘emotional’ sound experience. The performance-oriented look and feel has been optimised for high-performance driving.
One feature that would stand out is the N-exclusive sport steering wheel, which features a design optimised for the perfect grip and button layout necessary for dynamic driving. Two customisable N buttons on the steering wheel allow for any type of pre-set to be mapped according to individual preference for even more ease of operation, and paddle shifters make it possible for the driver to switch gears without taking their hands off the wheel.
Performance Head-Up Display
The Kona N is the first Hyundai high-performance model to be equipped with a Performance Head-Up Display. The display shows vehicle information on a transparent screen, allowing the driver to see relevant navigation, safety, and driving information while keeping their eyes on the road.
There is also a 10.25-inch digital N cluster 10.25-inch AVN touchscreen. A Performance Driving Data System monitors driving to help improve racetrack skills. The feature saves and displays driving data, such as power and torque levels, and turbo boost during racetrack driving via AVN touchscreen.
For a more emotional driving experience, a sporty engine sound from the exhaust and intake noise is supported by the Electronic Sound Generator in the body panel. In the cabin, at the base of the windscreen, an engine sound generator provides some extra acoustic drama to match the mood of the driver.
Making the Kona look hotter
The exterior design has SUV elements with the N membership identified by red accents. An exclusive front grille design, with its dedicated mesh, an integrated N logo also identify this as being a ‘hotter’ Kona. Other design cues indicate that this is a high-performance Hyundai N model are N forged wheels with a dark satin grey finish and red calipers, an N logo on the wheel cap, and an exclusive side sill in red with an engraved N logo.
At the rear, the large, double-wing roof spoiler dominates the view, providing downforce to maintain stability at higher speeds. There is also the iconic triangular third brake light as well as two large exhaust mufflers.
First deliveries in Europe start after June this year, and although Hyundai has not announced the prices, it is estimated that the model will cost at least the equivalent of around RM183,000 upwards in some markets.