Hyundai Kona N (2021 – present) | Expert Rating
The Hyundai Kona N is a compact five-door SUV/crossover which is the performance-enhanced version of the standard Kona SUV range, and currently the largest model in the Hyundai ‘N’ family.
First arriving on UK roads in Autumn 2021, the Kona N is powered by a 276hp 2.0-litre petrol engine – the same unit found in the Hyundai i30 N hot hatch.
Autocar says that the combination of this powerful engine and the SUV’s agile handling makes the Kona N feel like “a true hot hatch with a dash of extra ride height”, while Top Gear claims that the Hyundai is currently the “most fun small performance crossover on sale”.
This accolade is slightly hollow when you consider that there aren’t many performance crossovers on the market at the moment, and many reviewers state that the class-leading Ford Puma ST is still the better option. Comparing both models, What Car? concludes that the Kona N offers “less practicality, a smaller interior and louder road noise at motorway speeds”, while Parkers adds that the Puma ST has lower pricing.
“You do have to accept a few small sacrifices”, Auto Express argues, “but they’re easy to make for the breadth of ability on offer here – the Kona N is more thrilling than many hot hatchbacks on sale.”
As of June 2022, the Hyundai Kona N holds and Expert Rating of 66%, based on 12 reviews published by the motoring media here in the UK.
Kona N highlights
- One of the most exciting small SUVs to drive
- Handling that inspires confidence
- Intuitive infotainment
- Competitively priced
Kona N lowlights
- Loud engine at high speeds
- Rather cramped rear seating
- Interior design uses cheap plastics
- Not as practical as the Ford Puma ST
- Stiff suspension
Body style: Small SUV
Price: From £35,820 on-road
Launched: Autumn 2021
Last updated: N/A
Replacement due: TBA
Reviews, road test and comparisons from across the UK automotive media. Click any of the boxes to view.
Score: 9 / 10
“The Kona N is arguably the most appealing N model Hyundai has made yet. It’s civilised enough to use every day, yet on the right road it’s more thrilling than many hot hatchbacks on sale. You do have to accept a few small sacrifices – we’d like a little more practicality, for one – but they’re easy to make for the breadth of ability on offer here.”
“The Kona N is the second-ever European Hyundai N model to include an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s fast, fun and brilliant to drive.”
Score: 7 / 10
“A true hot hatch with a dash of extra ride height, the Kona N offers plentiful performance – if you can accept the trade-off in comfort that entails.”
Score: 8 / 10
“The Kona N is – for better or worse – able to nail the feel of far smaller, lighter and uncompromising hatchback. But while it has the practicality of a crossover, there’s been no quarter given to ride comfort. Some might call it a one-dimensional, I’d call it a brief, nailed.”
Score: 8.4 / 10
“In the Kona N, Hyundai has created another fantastic performance model – one that makes a great alternative to a Volkswagen T-Roc R.”
Score: 7 / 10
“The Hyundai Kona N is a small SUV that majors in exciting hot hatchback handling and performance. Practicality isn’t outstanding though, and it looks dull inside.”
Score: 8 / 10
“It’s more than just a badging exercise to cash in on what’s been achieved at Namyang and the Nürburgring with the i20 and i30, it’s a performance crossover that’s rich in ability and credibility.”
“The Kona just isn’t all that spacious or practical given its class positioning, and we’ll let you make up your own mind about the styling. What we will say is the Kona N might not be the consummate all-rounder, but it’s got a real sense of personality and feeling of fun that’s sorely missing in some more expensive hot SUVs.”
Model reviewed: Range overview
Score: 6.4 / 10
“If you really must have a fast SUV and plan to take it on track, you might want to consider the Kona N. However, it’s just too firm for our liking and not as entertaining as the cheaper, more practical Puma ST.”
Score: 6 / 10
“The Hyundai Kona N is an uncompromising small car, and it’s true that out on a smooth racing circuit its rock-hard stance, aggressive diff and stonking power would likely make it feel tremendous. On British roads in the depths of winter, though, it feels just a bit too wild.”
Score: 8 / 10
“It’s joyously silly. And if you can cope with mildly insatiable thirst and a firm ride, it ought to be more than capable of handling everyday life too. ‘Most fun small performance crossover on sale’ may sound like faint praise, but it’s a title true of the Kona N either way.”
Score: 6 / 10
“The Hyundai Kona N successfully mixes sports car and small SUV, making it fast and engaging on winding roads but civilised and usable when driven normally. Compared to the Ford Puma ST and other rivals, the Kona N’s performance holds its own, but it’s let down by its lesser practicality, smaller interior and louder road noise at motorway speeds.”
Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP
Adult protection: 87%
Child protection: 85%
Vulnerable road users: 62%
Safety assist: 60%
Though the Hyundai Kona N has not been explicitly testedby Euro NCAP, it inherits the crash test safety rating of the Kona SUV it is based on, which was awarded a full five-star rating in late 2017.
No eco rating
June 2022, the Hyundai Kona N has not been lab tested by Green NCAP.
As of June 2022, we don’t have enough reliability data on the Hyundai Kona N to generate a reliability rating.
The Car Expert’s reliability information is provided exclusively for us using extended warranty data from our partner, MotorEasy. As soon as MotorEasy has sufficient data on the Kona N, we’ll publish the score here.
If you’re looking at the Hyundai Kona N, you might also be interested in these alternatives
Audi SQ2 | Ford Puma ST | Hyundai Kona N | Mini Countryman JCW | Volkswagen T-Roc R
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