Hot-Rod-Hyundai! The 2022 Hyundai Kona N
Gas prices are on the rise. And the cost of a vehicle, whether new or used, is increasing at
an alarming rate. And there is a shortage of vehicles. It almost goes without saying – the
auto-industry is in a crazy and strange time. So, what does a company like Hyundai do at
a time like this? They make a high-performance subcompact crossover SUV that sees all
that is negative in the industry – and looks the other way. Meet the 2022 Hyundai Kona
First, about the Kona. The Kona is Hyundai’s second smallest SUV – being slightly larger
than the little Hyundai Venue. Out since 2018, for the 2022 model year, the Kona
receives its first makeover where it gets a sleeker and sharper body. Inside, changes are
more subtle, but it does get a larger touchscreen and an available digital instrument panel.
But the big talk about the Kona is with the lineup, which includes the N Line trim
package and the N model.
The N Line injects the Kona with sporty characteristics. It gets a more aggressive bumper
and grille, unique 18-inch wheels and a more powerful, 195 hp turbocharged 1.6 liter
four-cylinder engine (up from the base 147 hp 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine). It also
benefits from a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The N Line should fit the bill for
those who want a sporty version of the Kona – but if you want even better performance,
the Kona N is the one you want. Fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
that cranks out 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque – it’s the same engine Hyundai
uses for its Veloster N and Elantra N. Along with a sport-tuned suspension and upgraded
brakes, the Kona N is a real performer.
The Kona N certainly looks the part of a performer. It has a blacked-out grille, creased
and hole-punched hood, large air intakes, N badges, an aerodynamic body kit, dual
exhaust, a rear diffuser, and of course a large rear spoiler. Inside, the Kona N’s main
enhancement are the seats which are done in leather but have suede inserts and extra side
bolstering. Other differences include blue accents that are splashed around the cabin and
upgraded interior trim.
But while the Kona N looks cool and is nice to be in, it’s the drivetrain and how well it
drives where this hot-rod Hyundai really struts its stuff. Like the N Line, the Kona N
benefits from a dual-clutch transmission, but this one gets an extra cog as it’s an eight-
speed. No manual transmission is available. Nor is all-wheel drive (which can be had in
other Konas). But that’s ok as the engine alone makes up for it. It sounds fantastic, is
smooth, and loves to rev. The exhaust is full of pops, bangs, and crackles – all
contributing to its wonderful sound.
The exhaust makes for a perfect soundtrack while driving the Kona N. Even with its
electronically controlled limited-slip-differential, with 276 horses, there is still some
torque steer, but it’s not too bad. There is some slight turbo lag below 2500 RPMs, but
don’t worry – hit 3000 RPMs and a surge of power will make you forget any hesitation.
Stay on the go-pedal and you’ll hit 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The quarter-mile will go
by in just 13.5 seconds. This is one quick Hyundai.
And it gets better. Located on the right-side of the steering wheel is a big red button
labeled “NGS”. Hit it and the N will activate it’s overboost function and give you an extra
10 hp for 20 seconds. The NGS feature, which, believe-it-or-not, stands for N Grin Shift
squeezes every last bit of power out of the N. It’s perfect for drag racing or when coming
out of a corner. Get the idea that the N is about performance?
The suspension of the Kona N has been tweaked as well, giving it a stiff ride. But that
stiff ride pays off with the N providing excellent handling capabilities for the small
compact SUV that it is. The steering is quick providing excellent feedback to the driver.
Changing the drive mode to Normal helps bring the ride to acceptable levels.
And while the Kona N is far from your normal Kona, it still is practical as one. The
backseat provides adequate room and when it comes to cargo space there is 19.2 cubic
feet of room behind the rear seats, which expands to 45.8 cubic feet if the rear backseats
are folded down. As little as it may be there is some decent utility room in this little SUV.
The Kona S has everything going for it. It carries the same traits of the regular Kona yet
it adds power and performance to make it a real fun-to-drive machine. On top of that,
with a price tag starting around $35,500, it’s not crazy expensive.
I think most people can see that this is not the best of times for the auto industry. Heck
just owning a car these days is difficult due to the price of gas. But when a car
manufacturer comes out with a car like the Kona N, it’s a clear indication that there is a
light at the end of the tunnel.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2022 Hyundai Kona N
Base Price: $35,445.00 (est)
Price as Tested: $35,445.00 (est)
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder
Transmission: 8 – speed dual-clutch automatic
Horsepower: 276 hp
Torque: 289 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway
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