Hyundai Kona N is the destroyer of lap times


Hyundai has unleashed a super-hot N version of its Kona SUV. Despite packing 280 hp, the Kona N is no barbarian, since it also boasts a sophisticated sports chassis fettled at the Nürburgring.

The first SUV to wear N badging is powered by a two-liter turbocharged motor mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with different features to suit road conditions and driver demands. N Power shift-mode kicks in when the driver uses more than 90 per cent of the throttle and provides almost flat upshifts, with a partial cylinder cut of the exhaust throwing in a bang to match each gear change. When launch control is activated, the Kona N can accelerate to 62 mph in 5.5 seconds. N Grin Shift is operated by a button on the steering wheel, and, after a countdown, throws in some overboost and directly downshifts to the most appropriate gear. It can only be used once every 40 seconds. In N Track Shift the car recognizes when it’s on a racetrack and manages the shifts accordingly for the best lap time. Finally, there’s a fully manual mode controlled by paddle shifters.

In addition to the DCT features, there are five modes for the N Grin Control System that change engine, traction control, ESC, sound and steering parameters. In performance order these are: Eco, Normal, Sport, N, and Custom. With a low-ratio, rack-mounted electric power-steering system, electronically controlled suspension, and an electronic LSD that Hyundai calls the N Corner Carving Differential, the Kona N has been specifically set up to tackle turns in a way that few SUVs have a right to.

Adding some show to the go are larger vents, a bigger front splitter, new mesh grille, body-colored side moldings, red brake calipers, exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels, a twin wing, and dual tailpipes.

The interior is trimmed in Alcantara and leather and offers unique sports seats, a new steering wheel, and a special N-branded high-grip handbrake. There’s also a 10-inch infotainment system and a HUD which can display lap times and circuit maps.

“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,” says Albert Biermann, president and head of R&D at Hyundai Motor Group.

The new Kona follows the Veloster, i30, and i20 into Hyundai’s N division and Hyundai says that there will be a total of 18 N and N-Line models by 2022.

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