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Versatile sports car: Kona N

2021-09-17

The Kona N is the first SUV of the N brand. Here is the Kona N, a new 'N car' that shines every moment from daily life to track driving with high performance.

The Hyundai Kona N is a car with a unique character that was not very common so far. It’s because it combines powerful driving performance with a practical compact SUV to provide a different kind of enjoyment. Usually, if you stick to the direction of ‘sports driving’, it is easy to lose the original value, but the Kona N shows versatility by sublimating the two elements harmoniously. Let’s take a look at the various charms of the Kona N, which blurs the boundaries between SUVs and high-performance models.

The Kona N stands out even more on the road. This is thanks to the N brand’s distinctive style applied throughout the body while preserving the main design features of New Kona. The most eye-catching part of the exterior is the front. Inspired by a jet engine air intake used by combat aircraft, the front bumper delivers a strong presence while fulfilling its functional role of helping the engine cool while driving. In addition, the radiator grille and dark chrome emblem composed of elaborate patterns also create a sporty image.

The cladding with the same body color on the side, and a large-diameter exhaust on the rear suggest the performance-oriented Kona N character. In general sports models, the suspension height is lowered to emphasize the low and wide stance, but the Kona N maintained a similar minimum ground clearance to the existing ones so that it can easily handle even a simple dirt road. This is what the automaker intended to fulfill a faithful role as one of the N brands while being a compact SUV.

Various external changes are not just for fashion. For example, a dedicated spoiler designed with aerodynamics in mind, a large diffuser, and a splitter and side skirts at the bottom of the front bumper simplify the flow of air up and down the body while driving, and it minimizes the body shaking caused by wind power.

The interior is also full of details that highlight the N brand character. The steering wheel, seat, and gear knob that are very close to passengers are given a sporty feel with the performance blue color that symbolizes the N brand. In addition, the 10.25-inch LCD instrument panel delivers important driving information to the driver, such as engine speed, engine oil temperature, coolant temperature, engine torque, and turbo pressure (boost) during sports driving, with excellent visibility and a colorful graphic design.

One of the reasons why the Kona N is attractive is that it provides a driving experience optimized for sports driving while maintaining SUV advantages. Thanks to the seat position that is no different from that of a regular Kona, you can enjoy a comfortable ride and experience a clear view, and the thick first-row side bolsters provide firm support even in extreme driving situations.

If you are a Kona N, you do not need to prepare a separate measuring device (data logger) to check your performance on the track. This is because the 10.25-inch infotainment system is equipped with various functions that measure track driving records as standard. The ‘Lap Time Measuring Device’, which records the time it takes to drive one lap on the race track, and the ‘N Track Map’ function, which tracks and records the driver’s movement on the circuit, allow you to check your driving skills for better records.

The Kona N is equipped with a powertrain that maximizes performance and sensibility based on technology and experience accumulated on the world’s top motorsports stages such as WRC, Nurburgring 24 Hour, and WTCR. Based on a 2.0T flat power engine with linear output characteristics and an 8-speed DCT, it accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 240 km/h. The 2.0T flat power engine produces maximum output at 5,500 rpm and maintains a constant maximum torque from 2,000 rpm to the late 4,000 rpm. It means that it easily utilizes its robust force at any time.

If you use NGS (N Green Shift), which increases output by temporarily increasing turbo pressure, the output can be increased to a maximum of 290 horsepower, allowing you to enjoy even more powerful acceleration. This is because the vehicle houses a 52mm turbine wheel with an increased diameter of 5mm compared to the previous model, and 2.5㎟-larger 12.5㎟ turbine flow path. In addition, performance and durability were raised at the same time by improving the shape and material of the cylinder block. Because the maximum torque is exerted in a wider range than before, drivers can easily experience the Kona N’s high performance in a variety of environments, from everyday driving to circuit driving.

The Kona N went through numerous driving tests at the Nurburgring in Germany to compensate for the shortcomings of an SUV with a high center of gravity. Through this process, the Kona N was able to have an exquisite suspension setting optimized for sports driving without losing the advantages of an SUV. The Electronically Controlled Differential Limiter (e-LSD), which reduces drive losses when driving around corners, delivers sharp handling performance. It optimizes the left and right driving force even when exiting sharp corners quickly to prevent understeer. In addition, a large-diameter brake system and brake pads with high-performance friction materials provide strong braking performance. Also, the brake cooling performance is improved, suppressing the decrease in a braking performance even during repeated intense driving.

The fact that it secured performance and style at the same time is also an essential feature of the Kona N. The Kona N comes with 19-inch ultra-light forged wheels as an option. This wheel, which is 12kg lighter (per unit) compared to general cast wheels, reduces unsprung mass, which is the weight of parts located under the suspension, to improve road grip and ride comfort.

In addition, the Kona N did not give up its performance on irregular roads by not focusing only on on-road performance. It supports a total of four traction modes: SNOW (snow), MUD (mud), SAND (sand), and DEEP SNOW (deep snow), allowing the driver to drive confidently on various road surfaces.

The biggest distinguishing feature of the Kona N from other high-performance N models is that it is a compact SUV with excellent utility. The more spacious headroom than hatchbacks and sedans guarantees comfort for rear seat occupants, and the second-row folding function can also increase the usability of the rear seats and trunk.

For example, the Kona N, which has excellent space expandability, can comfortably load extra tires and fuel needed for track driving. Of course, it’s good enough to sleep in the car or enjoy camping. Considering that many of the cars with similar driving performance to the Kona N have very little use in everyday life, this is a huge advantage of the Kona N.

As such, the Kona N delivers pleasure in sports driving with powerful driving performance. In addition, it maintains the unique strengths of the Kona, providing a versatile appeal in various situations. This is why the drivers who want versatility and practicality love the Kona N, a high-performance SUV that goes from everyday life to track driving.

Photography by Minseok Choi