LETTER GAINED IN TRANSLATION: As a new rule of logic when a Meister Ingeniuer of Motorsport Division delivers a Meisterstück performance vehicle value the red, white and blue letter “M” is replaced with the red, white and black letter “N.” Thus as former BMW M and emeritus Hyundai engineering chief, Albert Biermann has cut his teeth as the Nurbürgring Nordschleife he delivered his career swan song at Namyang.
“N” ANGRY CUTE FOR “N” ANGRY UTE : Lament not for the passing of the cute Hyundai Veloster N, which despite debuting the power of Namyang, could not shake off the awkwardness of three doors. Introducing a stylish and vastly more marketable 2022 Hyundai Kona N performance sport subcompact ute. The most potent Jolt of Joe is still molded at Namyang and still honed Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife.
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WHAT: 2022 Hyundai Kona N DCT high performance subcompact crossover utility sportback, built on a modified GB platform. Sharing power with the departing Veloster N 3-door sportback, the 2022 Hyundai Kona N prevails over the lesser all-wheel drive Kona 1.6T with N-Line enhancement.
Powertrain: 2.0L DOHC 16V DI intercooled turbocharged gas I-4 = 275 hp/ 289 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm + 8-speed manumatic automated wet dual clutch helical transaxle, with steering wheel shift paddles.
- Variable attenuation high flow exhaust
- electronic Limited slip front differential
- Eco, Normal, Sport on demand Drive Modes
- N-Mode w/ infotainment display custom settings for throttle, transmission, damping, stability control, e- limited slip differential, steering, exhaust
- N Grin Shift overboost = +11 hp / 20 seconds
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE:
STAND OUT: One time Sant’Agata Bolognese pen man Luc Donckerwolke’s GB series cute ute pulls off an underworldly sinister aura better in the 2022 Hyundai Kona N than the happier Veloster N compact hatchback. Think pint sized Rambo Lambo Urus. Splitting the flowing molten steel wide hexagon grille starts the new aggressiveness. Bolder piano black chain link upper and lattice lower radiator vents, a mid lateral outboard forking to boomerang rung corner folds, containing segmented LED lights and brake cooling ducts are dead serious.
√ Wafer thin upper wrap-around LED, Forward hood lip venting split x 3; √ Fenders rising from belt-line = muscular; √ Low cowl + 4-channel creased hood = elegance; √ Acute angle belt line crease tandem to lower door crease; √ Dark diffused contrast panel joined C-pillar = floating roof; √ Lower body cladding which splits fore aft of the wheel arches to form corner light housings.
From Regular Strength to Super Jolt Joe: ♦ Darkened “H” Hyundai grille and liftgate emblems; ♦ “N” emblems front grille, pax side & liftgate right side; ♦ Front and rear simulated bash plates = gone; ♦ Red stripes circle entire lower perimeter; ♦ Fender and rear quarter panel wheel arches flared; ♦ Gloss body color wheel arch cladding; ♦ Gray diffused side skirts now smooth body color matched with matte “N” black insert; ♦ Twin vent roof spoiler w/ triangle CHMSL; ♦ Sequential lower rear directionals set n unique clear bezel; ♦ Body color bumper cover flared at sides w/ mid corner chain links; ♦ Inverted wide “U” matte black lower rear fascia diffuser; ♦ Dual bevel cut, round stainless steel exhaust pipes.
WHY: Wicked Ute brew replaces odd door hot hatch cute.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early autumn 2020
WHERE: Hyundai new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Ulsan, South Korea
HOW ROADWORTHY: From a push of a button on the dash, eager raspiness stirs from the 2022 Hyundai Kona N‘s turbo gas straight four pot. Cockpit controlled variable venting valves, visible on the dual 3.0″ exhaust pipes exiting the transverse resonator alters the pitch to a rambunctious howl. Laying off the throttle provides trick backpressure pop. The baby blues on the DCT equipped Kona N steering wheel right spoke aren’t just a pretty eye. It sets off the N Grin Shift monster of 20 second turbo overboost mode good for scaring the heck out of whatever or whoever happens to be nearby.
This viscous dual clutch gearbox irons out any lurching tendency during clutch releases and is amply if not neck snapping brisk in hand offs. Entertaining canyon throttle blipping is set off whether by the plenty large steering wheel shift paddles or the transaxle to its own plenty aggressive devices.
- +1 Road Circuit app adds North American IMSA road circuit routes for lap optimization
- +1 N-Mode now allows two custom configurations of seven operating charactertics to be fiddled with
Switching on the Lavender N and Grin steering wheel button and bringing up the media display N Page a swipe right brings up a second page for Launch Control. From there launch engine speed is selectable, and traction control fully disconnected. Transaxle clutch and electronic front differential slippage are computer managed. Depressing the throttle to strike the selected RPM and the pre-warmed three season Pirelli P-Zeros hook up emitting just a whiff of smoke.
HOW LIMBER: Prior to his retirement as Hyundai Group engineering chief, Albert Biermann was generous with his previous BMW Motorsport Division head honcho mettle. Doing high price prestige sport cars poses it challenges but try making a civilized super hatch out of a value subcompact crossover. Short spins of the intricate web stitched hefty 2022 Hyundai Kona N helm dispatches amusing opposite lock drifts. Hefty throttle habits keep the variable front wheel differential lock busy.
If directional response is a tad less sharp than expected, it is by no means dull. Grip from the Pirelli P-Zeros is accurately relayed. The 2022 Kona N loads rear forces onto a torsion beam rather than the Veloster N’s indie rear end. Even a less polished enthusiast can ease into a bit of geometry dialed understeer better than immediate frenzied oversteer. Impressively, the most comfortable of the selectable electronic damping settings doesn’t beat you in the trouser seat than the stubbier Veloster N. The on / off bite immediacy generated by four huge vented brake discs, clamped by 4-pistons per wheel in front, takes some getting used to.
A brilliant active exhaust, about as gruff at idle as a three times costlier BMW X3 M, and with the added devilishness of backpressure release pop is Herr Biermann’s entertaining hymn smirk.
HOW FAR: 24 combined miles per gallon; 350 miles range w/ 87 octane regular unleaded gasoline
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ A class up on the Veloster N sport compact coupe it replaces, there’s no need to squeeze into the back of the 4-door, 4-[wo]man 2022 Hyundai Kona N CUV.
vs. 2021 Hyundai Veloster N (which the 2022 Kona N replaces)
- 102.4″-inch Wheelbase: -1.8″ inches
- 34.6″-inch 2nd Row legroom: +0.5″ inches
- Nominal, expanded cargo capacity: -4%, +8.0%
HOW USEFUL: √ Slight incline folding 60/40% split 2nd Row seatbacks; √ Cord suspended rear parcel shelf; √ Roof rails; +1 Low cowl forward view / Tow Rating: Not Rated.
HOW SAFE: IIHS Ratings = Good x 5; √ 6 airbags; STD: √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Forward Collision warning, braking avoidance; √ Lane departure warning, Lane Keep Assist & Follow warning; √ Auto high beam lights; √ Sonar rear park assist, √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic warning, √ Pedestrian avoidance braking; √ Rain sensing windshield wipers; +1
Narrower pillars and more upright backlight than Veloster N benefit outward views;
- -1 Neither adaptive cruise control nor heads up display make it to the 2022 Hyundai Kona N.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Borrowing on the youthful appealing simplicity of its lessers, the 2022 Hyundai Kona N inner treatment announces greater driver focus seating, sport accenting, track-worthy display graphics and “N” cues. Calling the confines plush or colorful would be a stretch, though amenities are ample and fit commendable.
√ Micro suede + leatherette, high bolstered front sport bucket seats, driver’s 8-way power adjust; √ 3 power windows w/ driver’s full express; √ NEW for ’22 10.25″ TFT virtual drive mode display gauge cluster w/ N Mode MFD; √ Automatic climate control
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Oversized lavender drive mode steering wheel button; √ Media screen N-Mode sport displays, with varying performance graphs and access to Launch Control; √ North American IMSA road course maps for lap strategies; √ Onboard feature image tutorials w/ UHD graphics.
Details Done Right: √ Front sport seats supportive in all the right places without the typical tightness; √ Thick leather sport steering wheel w/ perforated side grips; √ Distinctive horizontal spoke multimedia, MFD & cruise control toggles, switches.
Nearly Non-Descript: Plywood hard dashboard, center console and wall / pillar plastics though with distinctive pseudo carbon fiber graining; Gone are the Veloster N‘s front seat illuminated upper “N” emblems.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 10.25″ capacitive touch LCD 3-pane center dashtop pod infotainment screen; √ Voice commands; √ Bluetooth hands-free communications; √ 3-D SD GPS navigation w/ voice guidance, MFD & HUD indicators; √ Streaming audio; √ NEW for ’22: switch from Infinity to brighter, less boomy Harman Kardon, 350W, 8-speaker audio w/ HD radio; √ Android Auto / Apple CarPlay (AVAIL.) Qi wireless charging pad; USB-A x 3, 12V x 1. +1 SMS Messaging
Apps = HD Real time traffic, HD Weather radar; Fuel prices
Subscriptions: Sirius XM radio, BlueLink telematics & remote access
- +1 N data, Drive Mode custom settings
- +1 Deep lower front center stack wireless device storage
HOW MUCH: $35,445 = as tested 2022 Hyundai Kona N DCT.
WHAT’S MISSING: Pliable cabin plastics; Heated front seats; Veloster N‘s front seat illuminated upper “N” emblems; Manual transmission; All-wheel drive?
ANY COMPETITION: Honda Civic Type-R: +1 Cabin space, racy inside and out; Mini John Cooper Works Clubman: +1 Steering feel, cabin materials; Volkswagen Golf GTI: +1 Solid German build, digital cockpit;
BOTTOM LINE: Wicked cup of urban ute brew, packing extra potent Jolt of Java, replaces odd door hot hatch.
Contributing Editor: S. Frissell