Hyundai kona n

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Hard but hearty

Hyundai launches its first high-performance SUV, the Kona N. The first test drive shows that the focus is on driving pleasure.

Hyundai Kona N.

Hyundai is at the forefront when it comes to switching to alternative drive technologies. The Korean manufacturer offers everything that is available on the market in this regard, from hybrid and plug-in hybrids to pure electric cars and hydrogen drives.

With the Ioniq 5, Hyundai also has one of the most interesting electric cars currently on offer: the compact electric car with a range of up to 481 km according to WLTP and advanced 800-volt battery technology. This allows extremely fast charging – the battery is charged from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes. And that from just 44,900 francs!

For all its exemplary nature when it comes to new drives, Hyundai still sticks to the classic petrol engine with the letter “N” and wants to offer customers maximum driving pleasure with plenty of power. The i30 N with a 2-liter turbo engine has already brought the Koreans a sizeable fan base. Because with the strong compact car, “N”, the brand’s newly founded sports department, immediately presented a strong competitor for the Golf GTI, which had matured over the decades.

In 2021, the “N” portfolio – the letter refers to the city of Namyang in South Korea, where the brand has its headquarters, and of course to the legendary Nurburgring – will be expanded by two models. The i20 N storms into the sporty small car class with 204 hp – and the new Kona N is the brand’s first high-performance SUV.

The drive technology is shared by the sportiest Kona with the i30 N of the current model generation. The 4-cylinder turbo petrol engine delivers 280 hp and 392 Nm and transfers its power to the front wheels via an 8-speed double clutch automatic. All-wheel drive is not available in the sporty top model – in contrast to the more civil versions. This is ensured by a limited-slip differential for optimal power distribution and maximum grip on the front wheels: a first feature that shows that with this SUV, off-road capability or comfort are not the top priority, but maximum driving pleasure.

Sprint at the push of a button

This is also embodied in the interior: sports seats with pronounced sidecars keep the driver and front passenger in place. On the steering wheel there are not only large shift paddles for manual shifting, but also eye-catching buttons with which you can choose from the numerous driving modes, as well as a red “Boost” button. This increases the maximum torque for 20 seconds and shifts the transmission into the optimal gear for the best acceleration. At best, the Kona N should sprint to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. That’s definitely fast enough for a five-seater SUV with a loading volume of up to 1143 liters. Especially since Hyundai does not focus on acceleration with the “N” models, but on cornering dynamics. With an inherently long-legged SUV, this is a challenge.

Hyundai Kona N-kona

Hyundai Kona N.

The Kona N relies on 19-inch wheels in size 235, which ensures good grip. Above all, the chassis has been radically revised compared to the “normal” Kona. The steering was designed to be more direct, and the entire vehicle was lowered. The springs and dampers are significantly stiffer, which means that the “N” version hardly leans into the curve, steers very directly and, as befits a sporty front-wheel drive vehicle, is slightly oversteered.

It comes dangerously close to the compact i30 N in terms of driving pleasure. However, joy also takes its toll: driving comfort is significantly reduced. In the most comfortable driving mode, the engine and transmission become quite tame for everyday use. The flap exhaust changes to silent and is hardly noticeable, the dual-clutch transmission shifts smoothly and smoothly through the gears. Despite the adaptive damper adjustment, the chassis can never completely hide the sporty tuning that is definitely suitable for the race track. Especially on bad roads, the sporty hardness is quite noticeable and brings a lot of restlessness into the car. That seems a bit inappropriate, especially in an SUV. A slightly more relaxed chassis would suit the SUV character better and set the Kona N apart from its flatter brother, the i30 N.

Nevertheless, the SUV genes provide an advantage in everyday life, which is likely to be the decisive argument for many customers: the raised seating position gives you a slightly better overview and makes you feel a little safer and more secure. The Kona N costs 44,490 francs, exactly 5,000 francs more than a Hyundai i30 N with the same engine and is therefore a fair offer among high-performance SUVs. However, according to the factory, consumption is rather high at 8.5 l/100 km. Hyundai can only afford that because the wide range also sells enough models with alternative drives.

Hyundai Kona N-kona

Hyundai Kona N.

Hyundai Kona N

Engine: 4 cyl., petrol, 1998 cm 3

Power: 280 hp/392 Nm

Drive: Aut., 8 gears, FWD

L×W×H: 4215×1800×1565mm

trunk volume: 361-1143l

Weight: 1510kg

0-100km/h: 5.5 sec.

Vmax: 240km/h

Consumption WLTP: 8.5L/100km

Price: from 44,490 francs

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