We’ve been told to expect the Hyundai Kona N’s arrival for months now, and while the Korean automaker still hasn’t fully launched the car, it did see fit to share some renders of it uncamouflaged for the first time today.
The Kona N is coming to the United States later in 2021 — something Hyundai confirmed on social media back in January — and it’ll be powered by the same 278-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-four as the Veloster N. That may seem like a somewhat low amount of power for a small performance SUV, but comparing how much both vehicles weigh, there actually isn’t a major difference in terms of what this engine has to move, save for the obviously higher center of gravity.
The Kona normally tips the scales between 2,890 pounds and 3,126 pounds, depending on trim level and whether you opt for a front- or all-wheel drive configuration. The Veloster N weighs 3,106 pounds with the standard manual transmission, or 3,247 pounds in optional dual-clutch guise. Hyundai has not revealed whether the Kona N will send power to all its wheels, or what gearbox it will be offered with, though Car And Driver has reported it’ll be exclusively DCT. We’ve reached out to Hyundai for clarification on both fronts.
For now, though, we can look at shadowy renders of the plucky little SUV, which it must be said is shaping up nicely. Ultimately, this is a Kona with some more vents in places, red trim along the bottom and a very unique high-mounted taillight situation at the rear. This triangular lamp is the similar to one bridging the Veloster N’s hatch and spoiler, but it looks much more unexpected and noticeable on the back of an SUV. It reminds of the flashing rain lights on the backs of race cars.
The Veloster N is a riot. Everyone seems to love it, and sporty compact crossovers are flourishing these days, so it makes sense Hyundai would essentially take that hot hatch’s guts and stuff them into a more practical package. Overseas, the Kona N will have the Ford Puma ST and Volkswagen T-Roc R to contend with, though on our side of the pond, Hyundai will sort of have the market all to itself.
Personally, if the Kona N lacks all-wheel drive, I’d probably still gravitate toward the Veloster N. Then again, my current hot hatch is too small to really be practical, so I’m accustomed to choosing cars that actively hamper my life. Smarter folks will probably dig the Kona N.