Most people can agree the Hyundai Veloster N is a great car, but it’s also packaged in a way that makes it a bit difficult to live with on account of its rear passenger door that’s only on one side and almost-hatch roofline that doesn’t offer quite the same utility a normal hatch would. I speak from experience as my friend owned a few last-gen Velosters, and there was no way for me to sit in the back without striking my head on one of the overhead crossbars.
If these practical limitations disqualify the Veloster N from your consideration, Hyundai will soon have an alternative that may interest you. It’s a souped-up version of the Kona crossover, called the Kona N, and it has the very same 2.0-liter turbo and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission as the Veloster N. The main difference is that those attributes will now be present in a car that makes a bit more sense on a daily basis.
Hyundai announced the Kona N in a press release, though, if you’ve been watching the headlines carefully, you may have seen this coming. It seems like sporty, small crossovers — like the oft-maligned Ford Edge ST — are becoming the hot hatches of modern times. That may dismay purists, though Hyundai’s been on a roll with its first batch of N cars, so I’m willing to give the Korean automaker the benefit of the doubt.
Hyundai says to expect launch control and an “emotional sound experience” — emotional, in this case, hopefully meaning lots of raspy burbles. We don’t yet know if a conventional manual will be an option, nor do we know if the Kona N will be offered with all-wheel drive.
The one legitimate argument against the Kona N’s existence you could make is that Hyundai already has a more practical version of the Veloster N out there. It’s called the i30 N, and it predated the Veloster by a year. The i30 N has four doors and a normal hatch and roofline; it’s also a car, and not a high-riding crossover. But the i30 N isn’t sold in the U.S., which opens up a lane for the Kona N on our shores.
Look closely at these pictures, though, and you’ll notice German plates on this Kona N prototype. You’ll also notice there’s no Veloster N to be found in that family portrait — just the i20 N and i30 N.
Will the Kona N make it to the U.S.? Hyundai hasn’t confirmed it, but it sure would make much more sense as a Veloster N alternative here. In November, the company announced a plan to deliver seven N and N Line models in the U.S. by 2022, and it seems a safe bet to expect the Kona N to be part of that initiative. Here’s hoping a production version of the mid-engined RM23T joins it in short order.