Hyundai Kona N lives up to ‘Never Just Drive’ Mentality
Let’s face it, far too many crossovers are more utilitarian than enjoyable. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But driving should be fun. The Weekend Drive Automotive Editor Jimmy Dinsmore and TWD Publisher Vince Bodiford both agree that driving should be fun.
But did they find this week’s tester, the 2022 Hyundai Kona N, to fit that bill?
Jimmy: Hyundai is branding their N-line of track-minded vehicles as “Never Just Drive.” What this means according to Hyundai is: “Do more than simply drive. Enjoy every second of it.”
I can get down with that. So obviously, I was curious if I would enjoy every second of my time in 2022 Hyundai Kona N. And you know what Vince, I certainly did. What about you?
Vince: Absolutely. Crossovers sometimes have no personality, but the Kona N is full of personality. The youthful, playful side should appeal to younger buyers, but older guys like us will appreciate the turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine. The 280 horsepower performance is impressive for a vehicle with its dimensions.
The 102.4-inch wheelbase plus the 165.9 overall length show the small, squatty dimensions compliment with those impressive output numbers.
Jimmy: Plus the Hyundai Kona N with all-wheel drive (AWD) has a curb weight of 3,340 pounds. The 8-speed dual clutch transmission comes with paddle shifters to give the driver a little more control over the shifting pattern, although the transmission does a good job of keeping up with the turbo offering quick shifts.
This is a track ready vehicle and honestly, Hyundai’s Albert Biermann sums it better than I can: “Kona N is a true hot SUV with the performance level of a hot hatch. It breaks the rule that SUVs are less fun to drive. As an N model, it goes beyond the limits of an ordinary SUV,” said Albert Biermann, President and Head of R&D Division at Hyundai Motor Group. “Kona N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving.”
Did you actually carve corners, Vince?
Vince: I thoroughly enjoyed this vehicle and I do love that line SUVs are less fun to drive. That’s usually true, but not at all true here.
Jimmy: Those awesome driving behaviors aside, some of that fun driving experience carries over inside. In fact, driving the Kona is almost like a video game thanks to a 10.25-inch infotainment and digital cluster featuring an exclusive racing display. Switch between N and Sport mode and it changes the dynamics of the car. Did we mention there’s a launch mode?
Vince: Inside, the Kona was surprising as the interior’s personality matched that sporty driving performance. Alloy pedals, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and special N badging really add to the wow factor inside. The Harman Kardon premium sound system is standard too, and you can’t go wrong there.
Jimmy: Hyundai’s infotainment system is intuitive too. Other comfort and convenience features include: a rear USB outlet, Hyundai digital key, 60/40 rear split seats, rear privacy glass and proximity key with remote push-button start.
Vince: The rear seats are comfortable for such a small vehicle. It’s rated as a five-passenger vehicle, but the back seat is best suited for only two adults. The legroom is adequate considering the Kona’s subcompact SUV rating.
Jimmy: There’s 19.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row and that area expands to 45.8 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seats folded.
2022 Hyundai Kona N overview: All of the aforementioned features are included at the base MSRP of $34,200. With destination fee, the final cost was $35,845. The EPA rating for the AWD Kona N is 20 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway.
When people think Hyundai Kona they may feel it’s just “another small SUV.” Clearly with Hyundai’s “Never Just Drive” campaign they’re aiming at consumers to consider the Kona N as a fun, punchy crossover that has a track-car personality.
Till Wartenberg, Vice President of N brand Management & Motorsport Sub-Division at Hyundai Motor Company summed it up well: “Driving was never meant to be boring and with N. It never will be.”