Automotive

Published on April 28th, 2021 | by Joshua Chin

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The Kona N Is A 280 PS Sporty Hyundai Compact Crossover

Hyundai officially reveals its latest addition to its true-blue N performance lineup. 

Having been heavily hyped for what felt like forever already, Hyundai has finally officially revealed its new Kona N sporty compact crossover. Launched during the South Korean automaker’s inaugural ’N Day’, this latest addition to its true-blue N car lineup is also incidentally the first SUV to feature this peppy performance pedigree. 

And diving right into its performance pedigree, the Kona N is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder that packs a reasonable 280 PS and 392 Nm of torque. The same engine that lies under the hood of the i30 N, it is mated to the sole transmission option of an 8-speed N dual-clutch transmission that sends power to only the front wheels via an electronically controlled N Corner Carving limited-slip differential. 

While some have lamented the fact that the Kona N lacks a manual transmission and all-wheel drive, this Hyundai performance compact crossover however compensates by bringing to the table a whole host of electronic goodies in order to perk up the driving experience for the enthusiast behind the wheel. The most exciting of which is probably the N Grin Shift mode, which upon pressing the red button on the sports steering wheel unleashes 10 extra horses under the hood for 20 seconds for just that bit of extra oomph. 

As for other N-branded electronic trickery, the transmission also gains N Power Shift (NPS) and N Track Sense Shift (NTS) modes for what the automaker claims is ‘sure to bring a grin to the driver’s face’ when pushing the Kona N hard. Standard too on this hot Hyundai are the N Grin Control System with 5 selectable driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom) to choose from, a Variable Exhaust System, as well as Launch Control that supposedly will rocket this performance compact crossover from 0-100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 240 km/h. 

Now moving onto more tangible performance enhancements over the standard Kona, this N model gains extra welding points, an improved strut ring structure and a reinforced chassis to minimise body roll during hard cornering. Beefier brakes (with red painted calipers) that are hidden behind lightweight 19-inch forged alloy wheels wrapped in bespoke Pirelli P Zero performance tyres are also to feature on this hot Hyundai compact crossover. 

Speaking further on the exterior changes over the standard car, the hot N variant naturally gains a more aggressive exterior aesthetic courtesy of the various aerodynamic add-ons like a new front lip spoiler, double-wing roof spoiler, flared fenders and side skirts. Red accents along the bottom edge of the car and dual exhaust tips out back are also visual giveaways that this is no ordinary Kona, as does the newly developed N-exclusive Sonic Blue exterior hue which is a spin on the traditional Performance Blue N-car colour. 

On the topic of Performance Blue, the most noticeable changes within the cabin of the Kona N are the coloured accents on the sports seats, the sports steering wheel and the shift knob in that aforementioned hue. Metal pedals and a head-up display (HUD) are also included, though what is perhaps the more exciting addition over in this department would be the new N-mode design 10-inch infotainment and digital cluster system that apparently adds ‘a game-like dimension to every driving experience under N or Sport drive modes’. 

Set to go on sale sometime in various international markets come autumn of this year, prices for the Kona N are expected command a slight premium over its i30N counterpart at around $35,000 (RM 144,000) in North America. As for the possibility of it coming over here to Malaysia meanwhile, there actually might be a better chance than most other Hyundais considering that the standard car is currently available over here already. 

Just touching a little bit more about the future plans of the N performance division at the end here, Hyundai has teased the possibility of other N-branded SUVs as part its expansion ambitions. For ambitiousness however, it would probably hard to top the South Korean automaker’s other plan to possibly launch an N-branded BEV or even FCEV with its plans to diversify into the world of e-performance in the future. 

PRESS RELEASE: Hyundai Motor Company today unveiled the all-new KONA N as well as its high-performance philosophy and ambition for sustainable driving fun at Hyundai N Day, a digital showcase dedicated to introducing Hyundai’s N Brand.

KONA N is not only the latest addition to Hyundai’s growing high-performance N lineup but is also the first N model with an SUV body style. It offers a winning combination of versatility, spirited acceleration, agility and racetrack readiness.

Through the showcase, the company also shared N brand’s high-performance philosophy and introduced a new brand claim while also hinting at future N models in the pipeline. Hyundai also highlighted its commitment to sustainable e-performance, giving a glimpse of the future direction for motorsport initiatives and how it will serve as a basis for upcoming N models.

“We are thrilled to share the mindset, spirit and vision of the N brand to be a leader in the high-performance category powered by traditional internal combustion engines as well as our proven industry-leading battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicle technologies,” said Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President and Head of Customer Experience Division at Hyundai Motor Company. “Our continuously growing and more balanced N portfolio will open new high-performance options, delivering the ‘grin factor’ no matter what the propulsion technology or body type may be.”

Powerful, agile performance

With technology inspired by motorsports, the N brand excels at delivering driving enthusiasm by providing racetrack capabilities and ‘corner rascal’ ride and handling in everyday sports cars. The all-new KONA N SUV unveiled at Hyundai N Day is no exception.

“KONA N is a true hot SUV with the performance level of a hot hatch. It breaks the rule that SUVs are less fun to drive. As an N model, it goes beyond the limits of an ordinary SUV,” said Albert Biermann, President and Head of R&D Division at Hyundai Motor Group. “KONA N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving.”

KONA N is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged GDI engine with an 8-speed wet dual clutch transmission (N DCT). N DCT is the enhanced version of Hyundai’s in-house developed 8DCT, an eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission. To make it suitable for N models, the 8DCT received improvements in durability, allowing it to handle the demands of high-performance vehicles. With the 2.0-liter T-GDI engine, it gives the best performance by applying unique gear ratios. The transmission control unit is calibrated for N, resulting in faster shifting and enabling a range of exclusive driving features ― including N Grin Shift (NGS), N Power Shift (NPS) and N Track Sense Shift (NTS) — that maximize driving exhilaration.

The powertrain delivers a maximum output of 280 PS / 40.0 kg-m. With N Grin Shift, the power is enhanced to 290 PS, maximizing driving fun. The engine offers flat power that ensures high responsiveness and improved acceleration for even more fun on the road or on the racetrack, thereby utilizing more of the engine’s potential. KONA N has a maximum speed of 240 km/h and can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, when Launch Control is activated.

Hyundai Motor implemented N Corner Carving Differential, an electronic limited slip differential (E-LSD) on KONA N for control of torque distribution to driving wheels, delivering maximized fun when carving corners. KONA N also is equipped with 19-inch lightweight forged wheels with high-performance brakes and tires.

Even at the base trim, KONA N comes with Launch Control, Variable Exhaust System and most notably N Grin Control System, offering the same driving fun at all levels. N Grin Control System offers customers a high level of customization, with five distinct drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom. These drive modes change the character of the all-new KONA N by adjusting the operating parameters of the engine, Electronic Stability Control, exhaust sound, and steering to optimise them for a variety of driving conditions.

The body’s extra welding points, improved strut ring structure and reinforced skeleton enhance rigidity to minimize body roll during maneuvers.

A gaming experience in real life

KONA N is equipped with a new 10-inch infotainment and digital cluster system featuring an exclusive racing head-up display (HUD) that adds a game-like dimension to every driving experience under N or Sport drive modes. The new infotainment system’s ‘N mode design’ which provides game-like experience with digitalized elements, communicates updates such as lap time and N track maps that help place the driver’s location within the circuit along with other information. The KONA N also maximizes driving fun and excitement using various widgets with excellent readability and visibility which allow monitoring of driving information in real time.

Just like popular racing video games, KONA N has customizable N buttons that can be set to toggle custom modes. The custom modes can be pre-set according to the driver’s preferences. The buttons can also turn on and off the lap timer.

For Europe, KONA N is equipped with N Road Sense that automatically recommends the activation of N mode when double-curved road signs are detected, enabling drivers to enjoy every second of their drive to the fullest.

Sporty design and powerful presence

The all-new KONA N SUV embodies a powerful road presence and driving fun that is true to N brand, and its dynamic driving spirit is clearly expressed by its sporty design.

The combination of body-colored fenders and 19-inch wheels provides KONA N with its wide, confident stance. The body-colored fenders emphasize the rich volume of the B-SUV’s muscular body, giving KONA N a close-to-the-ground appearance. The N-specific, 19-inch wheels ― that have wider track than other wheel options ― are pushed to all four corners to ramp up KONA’s already powerful visual impression.

The newly developed, N-exclusive Sonic Blue exterior color is a new spin on Performance Blue, the color most associated with N brand to date. That means KONA N is the only car that can wear Sonic Blue at the moment but previews a possible SUV lineup expansion. Sonic Blue creates an exciting contrast with the N-exclusive red accent that skirts the lower edge of the body.

KONA N’s front lip spoiler, double-wing roof spoiler and side skirts enhance aerodynamic efficiency and provide styling cues that declare its racetrack readiness. The wide lower air intake dominates the front bumper with a shape inspired by an aeronautic fuselage, providing much-needed engine cooling during hot laps and spirited driving. The double-wing roof spoiler, which is integrated with an N-specific triangular brake light, enhances downforce while providing visual flair.

KONA N’s interior also conveys the N spirit with brand-specific details such as the Performance Blue color accents, seats, steering wheel, shift knob and metal pedals.

A full complement of driver assistance and safety features

To ensure safe and convenient daily drives even as a high-performance vehicle, KONA N is equipped with a full array of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist (HBA), Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Alert (RCCA), Safe Exit Warning (SEW) and Smart Cruise Control (SCC).

Also available in the KONA N is Bluetooth Multi-connection support and an enhanced natural language voice recognition system that incorporates Speech-to-Meaning® and Deep Meaning Understanding™ technologies, adding coherence and convenience to the driving experience.

Not only is KONA N a corner rascal but it’s also equipped with Traction Control to handle a variety of terrain and surfaces, including snow and mud.

N brand’s new claim and strategy

N’s mission is to push the limits of performance to help drivers discover how fun driving can be. With that in mind, Hyundai Motor also revealed the N Brand’s new brand claim, ‘Never just drive.’, on Hyundai N Day. This claim fully captures the N mindset and spirit: “Do more than simply drive. Enjoy every second of it.”

Since its debut in 2013, the N brand has built a fervent following with its winning combination of everyday sports cars and its rapid rise in rally and customer racing. Together with its Motorsport division, N brand has logged victories at multiple races, including the FIA World Rally Championship, the TCR International Series, Pirelli World Challenge and Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race.

Every high-performance N model — including i30 N, i30 Fastback N, VELOSTER N, i20 N and KONA N — is designed by passionate experts and engineered at the Hyundai Motor Namyang R&D Center. Throughout the development, they go to the Nürburgring in Germany, one of the world’s most demanding racetracks, to undergo rigorous testing and validation. Through this painstaking process, N technology has been refined and born. N brand takes its name from Namyang and Nürburgring.

“As a successful challenger in the performance category for almost four years and proactive player of Hyundai brand, N addresses and adapts to the upcoming changes in the performance category,” said Till Wartenberg, Vice President of N brand Management & Motorsport Sub-Division at Hyundai Motor Company. “Driving was never meant to be boring and with N. It never will be. This is reflected with our new N brand slogan ‘Never just drive.’ And will also be the guiding principal of the future electrification of Hyundai N.”

Hyundai Motor is expanding its N and N Line lineup to 18 models through 2022. The flow of new N and N Line models will include variants in each major vehicle segment, suiting the needs of all types of car enthusiasts.

N brand envisions ‘sustainable driving fun’

Hyundai Motor looks to build upon its success with N brand in e-performance possibly with electric and hydrogen fuel cell powertrains.

The company has already proven its e-performance readiness with Veloster N ETCR at the Electric Touring Car Championship in 2019 and RM20e at the Beijing Motor Show in 2020. The RM platform will continue to serve as a ‘rolling lab’ for testing various electrified powertrains, possibly even hydrogen fuel cells. In 2015, Hyundai envisioned how e-performance can become more eco-friendly with the hydrogen-powered N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo fuel cell concept.

Most importantly, the underlying technologies for more sustainable ‘driving fun’ are already available. Hyundai Motor’s dedicated battery electric vehicle platform, E-GMP, which was recently introduced on the all-new IONIQ 5, offers tremendous flexibility and possibilities. And, Hyundai Motor’s proprietary hydrogen powertrain is at the heart of its new HTWO fuel cell system brand.

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About the Author

Automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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