2022 Hyundai Kona N Review

Hyundai continues to expand their lineup of performance-oriented vehicles, their performance division is called “N”, this would be the equivalent of BMW’s M-division. The first N vehicle introduced in North America was the Veloster N, which is a car I was a big fan of. Then they added the Elantra N and the Kona N. I reviewed the Elantra N just over a week ago and I had an absolute blast. You can call the Elantra N a more practical version of the Veloster N and I guess calling the Kona N a bit more practical version of the Elantra N wouldn’t be too farfetched.

Hyundai also has vehicles that are called “N-Line”, which are not as “bonkers” as the pure N cars, but do see slight aesthetic upgrades, which is similar to what BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi does with their M-line, AMG-line, and S-line vehicles.

Last week I had the opportunity to try out the Kona N, which is the first CUV to get the N treatment, it won’t be the last, as the Ioniq 5 electric CUV is also going to be getting the N treatment in the near future.

Crossovers sell much better than sedans, so it makes sense for Hyundai to offer a CUV with the N treatment. Crossovers are a bit more practical because of their higher seating position, a bit extra ground clearance, and their boxy design with hatchbacks, which provides added interior space.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Canadian Prices

Unlike the Elantra N, the Kona N is only offered with a DCT and has a starting price of $39,999, before Freight & PDI and taxes. The only options customers can choose from are paints, which cost an additional $200 for any color other than white.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Engine

The 2022 Kona N is equipped with the same THETA turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine found on the Elantra and Veloster N, producing 276 horsepower between 5,500 – 6,000 rpm and 289 pound-feet of torque between 2,100 – 4,700 rpm. There’s a special “boost” button on the steering wheel, called NGS, which stands for N Grin Shift, which provides an additional 10 HP for 20 seconds. Power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission.

The Kona N is a CUV, so you might be expecting an optional AWD system. Unfortunately, the Kona N does not come with AWD, which could’ve made it something extra special.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Front scaled

Driving the 2022 Hyundai Kona N

I had a lot of fun driving the Elantra N the week before, the Kona N is a CUV (more like a tall hatchback) so the driving dynamics are a bit different. It’s still quite a lot of fun to drive the Kona N and some of the other journalists I talked to preferred the Kona over the Elantra N, however I preferred the lower ride and a bit better handling of the Elantra N. But for a subcompact CUV, I don’t think there’s anything else available with this much power and this much sporty driving dynamics.

Like the Elantra N, the Kona N comes with 4 driving modes for the paved road and a custom mode where you can pick between different throttle response, steering weight, exhaust note etc. The 4 modes are Eco, Normal, Sport, and N. These modes take your Kona N from a regular small CUV, in the Eco mode, to an angry CUV that wants to bite your head off (in a good way), in the N mode.

I mostly drove the Kona N in the Normal and Eco modes, with the occasional dive into the N mode when I was feeling sporty. Like the other two N cars, the Kona N behaves like a normal sporty vehicle when put in the “lesser” modes, which is perfect for normal commutes to and from work and to the grocery stores. For weekend fun on twisty roads, putting it into the higher modes of Sport and N really change the personality of the Kona N. With the highest N mode giving you more of everything from a heavier steering feel to firmer suspension to a loud exhaust that pops and bangs like a sports car.

The exhaust on the Kona N is quite loud in the most aggressive mode, however, unlike the Elantra and Veloster N, I didn’t think it was as aggressive. The exhaust does give you those beautiful (and probably annoying to your fellow commuters) pops and bangs, but they didn’t seem as aggressive as the ones on the other two N cars.

The different modes can be switched between by pressing the two buttons on the steering wheel with the letter N on them. Alternatively, there’s a knob on the center console that changes modes. Like the other N cars, the Kona N always starts in the Normal mode, twisting the knob to the left puts it in the Eco mode and twisting it right puts it in the Sport mode. Additionally, the Kona N also comes with Snow, Deep Snow, Mud, and Sand modes. These modes can be accessed by pressing the knob on the center console and then switching between the modes by twisting it left or right.

There’s no shortage of power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Even in the Eco mode, it’s pretty easy to keep up with traffic and make highway passes. Braking performance is also excellent thanks to the 360 mm front and 314 mm rear disc brakes. The suspension does change between the different driving modes, but I found it to be a bit softer than the Elantra’s, which makes sense because this is a CUV and an owner might be brave enough to take it off road.

According to Hyundai, the Kona N should consume 11.8/8.7/10.4 Liters/100 kilometers in city/highway/combined driving. After a week of 95% city driving, with mostly sensible driving and a bit of spirited driving, the onboard computer showed 11.9 L/100 km, which is pretty much what the claimed number is.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Styling

2022 Hyundai Kona N Rear scaled

Styling for the Kona N stays relatively close to the Kona N-Line I reviewed earlier this year. The only difference I noticed between the “pure N” and the N-Line is the addition of the more aggressive roof mounted spoiler and the large dual-exhaust tips. The Kona N also sits lower than the Kona.

The overall styling is pretty decent looking, it’s a CUV and these types of vehicles are not known for their beauty.

2022 Kona N Interior

2022 Hyundai Kona N Interior scaled

The interior is also almost exactly the same as the one on the Kona N-Line. The Kona N does get sporty bucket seats that are great at holding you in place. The steering wheel is also a bit different with the addition of the two “N” buttons and the red NGS button.

 The interior is mostly hard plastics, which is to be expected in an economy CUV. Although the price of the Kona N wouldn’t suggest it’s an economy vehicle, but it’s based on an economy vehicle and the price you’re paying for the N is mostly for the performance.

I found there to be adequate leg and headroom for my 5’ 8” frame, however taller people will find the interior to be on the smaller side. But then again, this is a subcompact CUV, so you would already know this isn’t going to be a “living room on wheels” like the Ioniq 5.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Drivers Seat scaled

The Kona N is not the most technically advanced vehicle when it comes to tech, safety, and convenience features, but it’s still well equipped with a lot of features that make life just a little easier. Below is a list of some of the safety, tech, and convenience features offered on the 2022 Kona N.

  • Electronic Limited Slip Differential (e-LSD)
  • Electronically Controlled Suspension
  • Projector headlights
  • LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Automatic headlights
  • LED taillights
  • LED headlights (bi-functional)
  • N-exclusive leather / suede sport seats
  • Heated front seats (3-steps)
  • 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat
  • Driver’s seat power lumbar support (2-way)
  • Dual front USB outlets
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Head-Up Display, N-exclusive graphics
  • 10.25-inch color touchscreen
  • Wireless Device Charging
  • Remote keyless entry system with alarm and panic
  • Proximity key entry with push button start
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) w/ traction control system (TCS)
  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Brake assist & Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
  • Vehicle stability management (VSM)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with Individual Tire Indicator
  • Blind-Spot Collision Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Assist
  • Safe Exit Warning
  • Parking Distance Warning – Reverse
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) w/ Pedestrian Detection
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Rear occupant Alert
  • Lane Following Assist
  • High Beam Assist (HBA)

Final Thoughts

I had a lot of fun driving the Hyundai Kona N. It’s a fun little CUV that’s practical and pretty subdued when you want it to be and can behave almost like a sports car when you want it to. It’s also great to see Hyundai producing cars that are more tailored to the enthusiasts, which is a small piece of the market but it’s still an important part of the market. For more information on the Kona and other Hyundai vehicles, check out the official Hyundai Canada website.




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When I'm not reviewing the latest cars, I'm busy checking out the latest gadgets and watches by the world's best manufacturers. Cars, gadgets, and watches... that's all a man needs to get through life.

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