Excellent performance and solid everyday usability make the 276-horsepower Kona N hard to beat.
Jan 26, 2023 at 12:00pm ET
Most compact crossovers out there are pretty anonymous. Even the normal Hyundai Kona doesn’t do much to move the needle. But add the letter “N” to the end of that – as with the Veloster and Elantra – and that changes the personality of the Kona entirely for the better.
The 2022 Hyundai Kona N is a hot hatch masquerading as an SUV. It’s a performance car with the proportions of a standard family vehicle, and it packs a punchy turbocharged engine and an expertly tuned chassis to go with it. It’s an unlikely – but awesome – option for someone wanting something a bit more practical to go with their performance.
With a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine tuned to produce 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque, the Kona N is an angry little SUV. It accelerates off the line with a ferocious tug at the front wheels (sure, there’s some torque steer but who cares), and thanks to a well-tuned suspension with excellent steering feel, the Kona is remarkably agile in the corners as well. It’s really not far off in terms of performance from its siblings, the Veloster and Elantra.
You could argue the angular Elantra N isn’t everyone’s cup of tea in terms of styling, but few would dispute how sharp the Kona N looks. It has an aggressive front fascia that houses slim LED light fixtures, nearly hidden headlights, and a sporty mesh grille, with red accents that line the front bumper and side sills. Those accents look especially sinister against black paint, and the 19-inch alloy wheels give the Kona an excellent stance.
More so than the Veloster N or Elantra N, the Kona N makes the most sense as a daily driver. Performance aside, the Kona still does most of what you want of a compact SUV. It offers class-competitive passenger space, decent cargo room, excellent technology, and relatively good fuel economy for what’s under the hood – 23 miles per gallon combined.
In order to make the Kona an excellent performer, Hyundai tuned the suspension to levels some casual shoppers might consider too stiff. With the standard 19-inch wheels, the Kona N crashes over bumps and undulations with a harsh clunk. The ride feels unrefined over anything other than a perfectly paved piece of road.
The Kona isn’t known for having the most upscale interior and that’s still true of the N model. You will have to sacrifice some interior comfort in the name of performance. The Kona N goes heavy on cheap, hard plastics, particularly on the dash and center console. There are some softer textures on the doors, but even that feels below average for the segment.
The Kona N channels its inner hot hatchback in many ways, but most notably in the fact that it’s front-wheel drive only. Hyundai doesn’t offer an all-wheel-drive version of the Kona N – even though you can get all-wheel drive on a standard Kona – which leads to some understeer and torque steer when pushed especially hard.
|2022 Hyundai Kona N|
|Engine||Turbocharged 2.0-Liter I4|
|Output||276 Horsepower / 289 Pound-Feet|
|Drive Type||Front-Wheel Drive|
|Speed 0-60 MPH||5.2 Seconds|
|Maximum speed||149 Miles Per Hour|
|Efficiency||20 City / 27 Highway / 23 Combined|
|Cargo Volume||19.2 / 45.8 Cubic Feet|
|Base Price||$34,200 + $1,245 Destination|
|Trim Base Price||$35,445|
Gallery: 2023 Hyundai Kona N: Pros And Cons