The third addition to Hyundai’s N performance line-up, the Kona N crossover, will be officially revealed on 27 April at a dedicated ‘N Day’ event.
Due on sale before the middle of 2021, the Ford Puma ST rival – which Autocar has driven in prototype form – joins the recently revealed i20 N and well-established i30 N as the third pillar of the sub-brand’s range. Hyundai has promised news of other N-badged performance models at the reveal.
Official prototype shots and renders reveal key performance-focused styling details including chunkier new bumpers and side skirt extensions, large twin-exit exhaust pipes, a new rear spoiler and a bespoke wheel design hiding enlarged brakes with red-painted calipers.
Tthe Kona N is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine driving the front wheels, and will be offered with an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, dubbed N DCT.
The use of the 2.0-litre engine, adapted from the i30 N, is interesting as expectations were that the model would use the 1.6-litre unit of the related i20 N, which puts out 201bhp. That was already more powerful than the Kona N’s main rival – the 197bhp Puma ST – so it remains to be seen if the model will be offered with the 247bhp or 276bhp outputs of the i30 N.
While the car will initially be front-wheel-drive, the standard Kona can be specced with four-wheel drive on top models, so it’s possible the brand will leverage that. It will also feature a Launch Control system – a function substantially more effective in four-wheel-drive cars.
Hyundai N also claims it will feature an “emotional sound experience” – likely to be a reference to digital sound generators to enhance the engine note. Till Wartenburg, head of N brand management and motorsport, claims the hot SUV will have “plenty of versatility as well as the driving pleasure like any other N vehicle. Enthusiasts will enjoy taking this car anywhere, from road to the track.”
A bespoke chassis set-up will complement the power upgrade, with stiffer suspension and performance brakes fitted. The interior, too, will receive the usual N tweaks including sports seats, specific trim detailing and highly configurable drive modes.