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Verdict

8.8 / 10

I’m not sure that anyone specifically asked for the 2022 Hyundai Kona N. As enthusiasts, of course, we will gladly drive any new performance car. But a compact crossover that’s styled and tuned to try and win over the hot hatchback crowd… sure, why not?

The Kona N looks like you asked a car designer to turn an everyday SUV into a sports car, which is good because that’s exactly what it is. With extra intakes, bigger wheels, a spoiler, and massive ovular exhausts, this is an exciting thing to look at. Hyundai added some functional bits too, with 19-inch lightweight wheels, sticky Pirelli tires, and larger brakes.

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Quick Stats 2022 Hyundai Kona N
Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter I4
Output: 276 Horsepower / 289 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH: 5.2 Seconds
Top Speed: 149 MPH
As-Tested Price: $35,445

Powering this pocket rocket is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a robust 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet. It’s paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission – no manual option in this N car – creating a powertrain that is seriously fun on the road. There’s also an NGS button, or “N Grin Shift” overboost function that makes the car even more responsive for short bursts of time.

Driving through some wonderful twisty roads during our video shoot, the Kona N was an absolute blast. It had mannerisms similar to the Volkswagen GTI or the Honda Civic Type R, but with an elevated driving position that felt more grown up. Grip levels were huge, and understeer only came into play when we were absolutely mobbing it into a corner. And with each change in driving mode, the steering got heavier and more in line with a performance car.

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Only in the interior was the Kona N somewhat of a letdown, with too many hard plastics and not enough fanfare (like in the Elantra N). The light blue accents helped break up the sea of dark black, but otherwise, there wasn’t enough here to set the car apart from its non-N self.

For less than $40,000 this is one of the best performance values on the market today. Hyundai N’s third product is a genuine hoot to drive aggressively, even with its plus-size hot hatch proportions. Hyundai’s decision to make this car is still an odd one, but hopefully people will catch on. The Kona N is the real deal.

Gallery: Hyundai Kona N

2022 Hyundai Kona N

Engine Turbocharged 2.0-Liter I4
Output 276 Horsepower / 289 Pound-Feet
Transmission Eight-Speed Dual-Clutch
Drive Type Front-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 5.2 Seconds
Maximum speed 149 MPH
Efficiency 20 City / 27 Highway / 23 Combined
Weight 3,340 Pounds
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 19.2 / 45.8 Cubic Feet
Base Price $34,200 + $1,295 Destination
Trim Base Price $35,445
As-Tested Price $35,445
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