The writing has been on the wall for some time now. The fun, affordable performance car is changing. The era of the hot hatch that began in the time of the original Volkswagen Rabbit GTI is coming to a close and being replaced with the hot crossover. One of the most recent examples of this has just been unveiled: the 2022 Hyundai Kona N.
What is the Kona N?
The Hyundai Kona N — which I can’t help but pronounce as “Conan” in my head when I read it — is a high-performance version of the Kona subcompact crossover. It’s mechanically similar to the Hyundai Veloster N with a 280-horsepower turbocharged inline-4 and an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT), but with the ride height and interior space of a crossover.
Other performance touches include an electronic limited-slip differential, active sport exhaust, revised steering and suspension, and sticky tires. There’s also a sporty appearance package that covers the interior and exterior, plus an exclusive Sonic Blue paint color which, unfortunately, is a very different shade of blue than Sonic the Hedgehog.
So, you get the idea. It’s a sporty Kona. Why is it important? It’s important because it’s a signal of the future of small, affordable performance cars. While we don’t know the official pricing of the Kona N yet, I think it will be priced pretty close to the Veloster N, which starts at a little over $32,000.
If indeed the Kona N is priced around the mid-$30k mark, then it will be a more affordable alternative to bigger, more expensive sporty SUVs like the oddly pricey ST variants of the Ford Explorer and Ford Edge. Performance SUVs used to mainly be a thing that luxury brands did, but it’s a concept that’s getting more mainstream and more affordable for the masses.
During the press conference unveiling the Kona N, the presenters kept talking about how more N models are coming. They also heavily implied that electrified N models are in the works, presumably from the new Ioniq sub-brand. Could the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 crossover get the N treatment?
Time will tell where the future of cars that are fun, practical, and affordable lies, but I think the Kona N is a sign of things to come. The hot hatch is nearly dead. Long live the hot crossover. Find a Hyundai Kona for sale