2022 Hyundai Kona N First Drive Review: Pint-Sized Pocket Rocket

It’s not often you get to drive a car in a class of one.

That’s what the 2022 Hyundai Kona N is, though. There are quick sub-compact crossovers out there, like the Mazda CX-30 Turbo, but nothing goes as hard as Hyundai’s musclebound little toy.

Along with the new Elantra N, the Kona N is the star of a day at Sonoma Raceway. The pessimistic may dismiss the high-rider as a marketing-led inevitability: it’s a segment sales sensation, so a halo model with lots of shared DNA seems like a safe play. After a day of lapping both cars around the track, flinging them around an autocross course, and driving them on the road, I’m happy to report the Kona N has its own personality. More than that, in some ways its more impressive than the Elantra N. 

Like the Elantra N at the same event, the Kona N comes equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Hyundai engineers have tickled more torque out of the engine than previous years, unlocking 289 pound-feet to go along with the 276 horsepower. A fun push-to-pass button unleashes an additional 10 horsepower in 20-second bursts.

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Hyundai Elantra N vs Hyundai Kona N: Hot or Hotter

Hyundai Elantra N vs Kona N Comparison

We are big fans of the latest batch of Hyundai N cars.

The Elantra N had us smitten at its first drive, on track at the challenging Sonoma Raceway and along the fun roads surrounding it. Same goes with the Kona N, an unlikely mini-SUV-turned-hot-hatch. More recently, the Elantra N outshined the Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic Si in a three-car shootout, its combination of pugnacious performance and tremendous value earning it the title.

With both N cars being so similar, it’s an all-too easy question: which one is best? During a recent event with both, at one of North America’s fastest circuits—more on that soon—we refamiliarized ourselves the Elantra N and Kona N, discovering what we love about them all over again. If you’re in the market for either, there are a few important differences that might sway you either way—but let’s be clear from the beginning, there’s no wrong choice here.

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Chevrolet Bolt EUV vs Hyundai Kona Electric: Which Small EV SUV is Right for You?

We take a deep dive through the features and capabilities of two affordable EV SUVs. It’s the Chevrolet Bolt EUV vs Hyundai Kona Electric.

Although the Chevrolet Bolt EUV was a new entry for the 2022 model year, the Kona Electric has been around since 2019. The gasoline powered Kona is a well-reviewed and popular model for Hyundai, and the electric version makes ownership that much more simple.

Chevy doesn’t have an easy job if it wants to compete with the Kona. Thankfully, another round of price reductions for 2023 should upset the competition and give the Bolt EUV an advantage. We put the two head-to-head to find out which subcompact EV SUV comes out on top.

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Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Kona: Which Compact Crossover Is Right For You?

Hyundai and Kia, though part of the same umbrella are quite the rivals, especially in the crossover/SUV market.

While both brands mostly utilize the same platforms and powertrains, their products tend to have their own personalities. Be it the K5 and the Sonata or the Palisade and Telluride, which we compared recently

Today we are looking at another pair of vehicles from South Korea that have a lot in common except their names. The Hyundai Kona and the Kia Seltos are based on the same Hyundai-Kia B SUV platform but offer distinctly different packages. Where the Kona is a more contemporary take on the compact crossover segment and looks more akin to a car, the Seltos goes for the traditional two-box SUV shape. But which would be a better fit for your daily needs? We compare them to the bones to find out.

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Detailed Specs

Price Range (USD) / $21,990 - $41,550
Engine / Motor / 2.0-liter 4-cylinder / 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder / 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder / Electric motor
Power / 147 hp / 195 hp / 276 hp / 201 hp
Torque / 132 lb-ft. / 195 lb-ft. / 289 lb-ft. / 291 lb-ft.
Drivetrain / FWD / AWD
Transmission / CVT / 7DCT / 8DCT /
Fuel Economy / Efficiency (city/hwy) / Gas - 20-30 mpg / 27-35 mpg / Electric - 134 MPGe / 106 MPGe
Cargo capacity / 19.2 cu ft.

Our Final Verdict

Hyundai Kona