Hyundai Confirms Kona N Performance Crossover SUV

Hyundai of Europe has announced that the Kona SUV will be the next vehicle to get the full N treatment. Details are scant in the teaser release, but they confirmed the Kona N will have the 2.0-liter engine and eight-speed DCT transmission, which we recently sampled in a 2022 Hyundai Elantra N prototype.

The Kona N will be the first SUV to get the N treatment, and—if we assume the same output as the Veloster N and Elantra N—somewhere in the neighborhood of 275 hp and 260 lb-ft. That’d make the Kona N a credible competitor for compact hot SUVs like the Mercedes GLA 35 AMG and the Mini John Cooper Works Countryman.

Five years ago, we’d laugh off the idea of Hyundai making a sporty SUV that could seriously take on its Germans counterparts. But five years ago, ex-BMW-M chief Albert Biermann had only just been hired on at Hyundai. Now that we’ve sampled his wares, we are salivating at the idea of an N-ized Hyundai SUV.

Will our desire be satiated? We asked our local Hyundai PR team about plans for the Kona N, and they responded with “Please stay tuned for official news from the Hyundai North American PR team.” That either means there’s a press release in the works, or they’re going to pretend the Kona N doesn’t exist as they launch the Elantra N as well as the Elantra N-Line and Sonata N-Line, which are not as hot as the full-on Ns but still pretty darn impressive. (The updated 2022 Kona gets an N-Line model as well, but unlike the Elantra and Sonata N-Lines, it’s an appearance package with no performance upgrades.)

Europeans already get to enjoy two N models that won’t come stateside: the half-pint i20 N, based on a city car too small for the American market, and the i30 N, which until recently was sold here in non-N form as the Elantra GT. But the Kona is already here and it meets U.S. safety standards, so we can’t see any logical reason not to bring it to the States—but Hyundai doesn’t always act logically. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, and our corny “KonaN the Barbarian” jokes at the ready.

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