The most exciting automobile on the market isn’t a drop-top sports car or a mid-engine supercar. If you want crazy laughter and ultimate excitement, you need a front-wheel-drive crossover with an automatic transmission. You need the 2022 Hyundai Kona N in particular.
This strange little SUV is one of the nicest vehicles we’ve ever driven, taking everything excellent about the Veloster N and putting it into a more refined package overall. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine, which produces 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque, is shared with Hyundai’s other N vehicles. That’s a 29-pound-feet bump, and the Kona’s peak torque arrives a little later.
The Kona N is only available with Hyundai’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is great for me because the Veloster N’s standard six-speed manual is a snoozer. The DCT is smooth to use but delivers rapid, gratifying transitions.
It took me a few days of driving around town in the 2022 Hyundai Kona N to understand what this tiny SUV was all about. Hyundai squeezed the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine from the Veloster N into its smallest SUV. It’s an unusual combination that seems even odder when you drive about at half throttle before the machine enters the turbocharged deliciousness of the power band.
When you stamp your right foot to the floor, things become interesting. The little snail spools up swiftly after a bit of turbo lag, and the vehicle pulls you back as the 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque work. That torquey push is enough to smile between stoplights. If you want to turn up the volume, press the “N Mode” buttons on the steering wheel.
When you do this, the digital instrument panel changes to a more sporty layout, with a massive tachometer in the center bordered by engine and oil temp gauges and a g meter. You won’t notice the readouts in this mode since the exhaust becomes louder, the suspension stiffens, and the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission holds its gears longer. These sporty settings ensure that they will draw your attention to the car’s audio upgrades and the road ahead of you.
And that road is soon used when power is sent to the front wheels via the electronic limited-slip differential. Hyundai claims that this car can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, which I believe.
More enjoyment is had by pressing the red “NGS” button on the steering wheel, which stands for “N Grin Shift.” When you hit this button, the power climbs to 280, and the transmission retains the gear for 20 seconds of over-boosted enjoyment. It’s similar to a nitrous-oxide boost but without the nitrous.
As you may expect, motorsport-style drives are always accompanied by remarkable mechanical design. The Hyundai Kona N has been meticulously built to provide an experience every time you go behind the wheel.
On the highway, the 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine is a beast. It produces an incredible 280 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque, giving you the power you need to take on whatever lies ahead. Because of the ruggedness of this engine, you’ll be convincingly dominating the road.
You can fine-tune your driving even further with a simple change into N Mode. This driving mode changes many aspects of the Kona N to provide a lively ride that best uses its power. It even has launch control, allowing you to speed up from a standstill. The Kona N’s power is channeled through the 8-speed wet DCT gearbox, resulting in predictable acceleration.
If you wish to bring things down a notch, we may return the Hyundai Kona N to the standard mode by twisting the center console knob. The suspension softens, and the steering loosens in this mode, making the vehicle feel like its gentler stablemates.
When driving regularly, the Kona N feels comfy. Its leather and suede-trimmed sports seats are well-bolstered, but they might benefit from lumbar support. Otherwise, the front cabin is light and airy, and the back seat has adequate space. Don’t put someone taller than 6-foot-2 in there.
In terms of looks, I enjoy how the Hyundai Kona N isn’t too boy racer-like. Hyundai changed the basic Kona design by adding N Design front and rear fascias, “N” badges, and a dual-tip exhaust system. It worked nicely and gave me the impression that I could blend in with the crowd whenever I wanted, without worrying about bystanders laughing at a giant shopping cart’s back wing.
The Hyundai Kona N has interior accents and features to match its adrenaline-pumping performance. Several accents make this an SUV that will leave you feeling strong and confident driving.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel is branded with the N emblem, emphasizing the Kona N’s power. It boasts paddle shifters for an exciting gearshift, and the N Mode switches are conveniently located to activate the driving mode.
You may also observe this sporty spirit in the gear knob. It’s leather-wrapped and embroidered with the N logo to show you how much power you have. The blue accent stitching offers a splash of color to the otherwise refined inside design.
Once you’re behind the wheel, you’ll have many entertaining and simple-to-use tools at your disposal to improve your driving experience. The Harman Kardon 8-speaker premium audio system will keep you and your passengers entertained. In a real surround-sound experience, your favorite music will sound like it’s never been heard before, transforming the Kona N into your concert arena.
Wireless charging makes it easier than ever to keep your phone fully charged. To make your drives more enjoyable, you may connect your phone with the 10.25-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation. Your phone may also store the Hyundai Digital Key, allowing you to access the Kona N anywhere.
Finally, the 2022 Hyundai Kona N’s dual personality is ideal for anyone who needs the room and convenience of a compact SUV but wants to unleash their wild side at any time. It’s been dubbed the “chicken and waffles of SUVs” because its large proportions and turbocharged engine unusually complement each other.
Again, if you’re searching for a crazed beast disguised as a sheep, the Kona N is worth a look. Remember to keep your eyes on the road when selecting “N mode.”