In this review I will compare the Kona N with all the other Hyundai N´s, you know/read more than enough of, so you can imagine what this special car is all about…
As you know there are several Hyundai N´s currently in the market and Hyundai is not getting tired to give us more options for every situation we can imagine. If you look for a small hatchback you can aim for the corner-king i20 N, if you want the “badass” go for the Elantra N (this choice depends on early “reviews”) and for the sweet spot look for the i30N or Veloster N… Until now!
The sweet spot shifted heavily towards the Kona N with its release.
There are only two reasons to not choose the Kona N as the best flexible/daily car and they are:
1. you do not like SUVs .
2. you love the Hatchback/Fastback/3-door design.
Lets talk about the suspension first, since in our humble opinion, this is where the Kona N really starts to shine. Have you ever driven a normal Kona?, it is a SUV, has very much comfort and this is 100% reproducible to the Kona N… On the Eco/Normal mode this car drives like a normal Kona/SUV! Gentle seat position, easy in/out and very much comfort, it soaks up bumpy roads like a boss and you do not have the feeling sitting in the sports version of it. The suspension is not too stiff and I was even able to drink water while a friend was driving through potholes/over speed-bumps.
We have been also surprised how easy this cars takes corners. If you want to take a 90° corner you do not need to steer that much since the steering is very direct.
You probably know the engine from the i30 N/Veloster N but the Kona N has some tiny differences.
We do not mean in case of power or speed band, there are some small differences in the sound.
The i30 N for example has on ECO and on N-Mode a “better and deeper” note from the exhaust. In N mode the Kona N is here a tiny bit more reserved. But the turbo himself is much more hearable. When you drive through a forest and start to accelerate you will clearly hear the difference when the turbo is spooling up and starts to gasp for air. If you press the red button on the steering wheel (NGS-button) the turbo sound even gets another bit more aggressive and the power unfolding is a bit better.
In the normal mode you hear nearly no sound from the exhaust and the car is very quiet and lets you drive on the autobahn with no downside. The gap between “hold back” and “attack mode” is really incredible in this car. You remember Two-Face from batman? This car is Two-Face, but both sides are “beautiful” and make sense.
The Kona has many small differences compared to the normal Kona. The most obvious are the rear-diffuser with big exhaust-tips and the roof spoiler with the integrated 3rd brake light. At the front you have a bigger and black grill which is needed to keep everything cool inside the engine bay.
The secondary front- and backlights have a black inlay now and are slightly different to the normal Kona ones. It comes with 235/19 tires and 19″ rims which have a pretty sporty design and give the bigger brakes enough room to work even on a racetrack. Our car had the Sonic Blue color which is a bit more subtle than the i30N Performance Blue.
With this color (pretty sure even with the others) and the decent red-stripes this car looks very beefy when standing next to it. We really like the design and find it very suitable for the Kona N.
You drove an i30 N? Great, you will instantly find everything you need in this car. Instead the i20 N dual custom buttons, the Kona N has the classic left button = drive mode and right button = N + Custom scheme. The only small difference is the NGS Button (i20N has Rev-matching) und your right Custom-button. As we explained a bit earlier, the NGS brings the Kona N in some kind of overboost state for 20 seconds (30 sec cooldown). The engine does not produce more HP at that moment but it has a slightly more aggressive power unfolding.
Additionally to the new Button we also liked the new cooling vents, they are round and have a good finish. Fits perfectly for the allrounder since you can better control where the air is going to.
Beside the digital cluster which is as good as the i20N has, the Kona N features a headup-display which shows performance metrics and is nice new feature compared to the other N´s. The space you have is identical to the normal Kona and this means, even myself (~190cm) can sit in the backseat without any problems.
What a great surprise… When we first started the Kona N i expected a normal i30N with a bit more height. But we were wrong… This car does not corner like the i20N, and does not have the insane loud sound of the first i30N´s but this is fine since it does not need it. It is the type of car you can take your grandma for shopping and later that day, drive on the racetrack. Your grandma will not think it is a sporty car and the guys at the racetrack will not believe you that your grandma did not lost her dentures while driving 🙂
The engine is great, powerful with a sweet sound, the exhaust can be quiet and can be loud, the suspension is awesome for all situations you can imagine and at the end of the day the range between eco, normal and sport can be configured like you want in the custom mode.
This car is the perfect daily driver (if you like a SUV) and this should be really appreciated!
Special thanks to CHRISTOPH GOECKEL PHOTOGRAPHER for some of the nice pictures!