2022 Hyundai Kona N
Following almost a decade of developing a versatile line-up of racetrack-ready road cars, Hyundai N – Hyundai Motor’s high-performance sub-brand – is celebrating its sixth birthday. Thanks to Hyundai N, the automaker has been able to broaden its selection of models for its customers to include fun-to-drive cars with dynamic everyday driving capabilities and racetrack-capable performance that will get drivers’ hearts beating faster.
“Today is Hyundai N’s birthday, and we at Hyundai Motor Europe are proud of how much we have achieved so far through our high-performance division,” said Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, Vice President Marketing and Product at Hyundai Motor Europe. “Hyundai N has seamlessly merged the world of motorsport and road-going models and, through that, has made new customers fall in love with our brand.”
A walk down memory lane: N’s history
Hyundai Motorsport has served as the cradle for Hyundai N. In 2014, Hyundai Motorsport took four podiums with the i20 Coupe WRC and finished the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in fourth place in the manufacturer rankings. In the following years, Hyundai’s performance at WRC has only improved, winning manufacturers’ championship titles in 2019 and 2020.
Hyundai attended IAA 2015 to launch Hyundai N with the concept cars N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo and RM15, along with the new-generation i20 Coupe WRC. The mid-engine, turbo-powered RM15 concept represented Hyundai Motor’s passion for performance and served as a prelude to the i30 N, which debuted in 2017. In 2016, Hyundai attended the Busan Motor Show and Paris Motor Show to launch the high-performance racing concepts RM16 and RN30, respectively.
Hyundai’s first mass-produced high-performance car, the i30 N, imbued the i30 N WTCR touring car with a sporty spirit on the racetrack. The i30 N was launched in 2017 with the first 100 units selling out within 48 hours in Germany. The i30 N was later followed by the i30 Fastback N, premiering worldwide at the 2017 Paris Motor Show.
Launched in 2020, the all-new i20 N, Hyundai N’s smallest hot hatch, drew inspiration from the i20 N WRC rally car. That same year, Hyundai also unveiled the i20 N Rally2, which mirrors the road car’s dynamic ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ aesthetic.
Adding a lifestyle focus to N’s high-performance and fun-to-drive spirit, Hyundai N introduced the next member of its line-up in 2021: KONA N. However, Hyundai’s first ‘hot SUV’ offers a range of features only seen in high-performance vehicles.
N’s top media reactions
Hyundai N is made up of an award-winning family. Since its launch in 2017, the i30 N has won several awards from leading automotive media and publishers, including the German Auto Bild Sports Car of the Year 2018 and 2020. The i20 N was also named “Best Hot Hatchback” by the Auto Express New Car Awards 2021.
Hyundai N models have not only inspired a community of fans known as “N-thusiasts”, but they have also filled the international automotive press with excitement. Various publications and news outlets have praised the sporty models for seamlessly merging racetrack-ready performance with everyday driving comforts.
BBC’s Top Gear comments on the latest-generation i30 N: “This is just about the most comprehensively massive mid-life tweak you’re ever likely to see a hot hatch receive. From behind the wheel, the power delivery feels completely fresh.” It also remarks on the model’s pure power: “The new i30 N is less peaky, generating maximum punch lower down the rev range, and maintaining it for longer … Basically, it’s a bit quicker in every gear at any revs, which makes it feel a lot faster overall.”
Auto Bild from Germany said that it “liked it a lot – inconspicuous in everyday life, responsive on the track”. The German publication highlights the emotions the i30 N evokes: “The Hyundai [i30 N] roars like a hungry grizzly, hisses wildly when the gas is pushed, spurts loudly when double-declutching.”
Autocar from the UK claims that the i20 N “builds on its bigger sibling’s sense of engagement but adds … polish and handling precision”. It also reflects on the driving experience the small N model can provide. “It’s an excellent hot hatch, this WRC-inspired supermini, and delivers a level of composure and maturity that arguably no other cars in this class can match. Certainly, few are quicker point to point, or so adept at absorbing whatever the road ahead might throw at the suspension.”
British motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson summarises his impression of the i20 N in The Sunday Times with the words “How I fell back in love with driving”: “It’s one of those cars that turns into any corner at any speed you like, and that whizzes from place to place in a frenzy of histrionics and fizz.” Clarkson compares the i20 N to the i30 N: “Like its bigger sibling, it’s well made and strong and reliable and safe, and there are folding rear seats, but all of this sensibleness is masked under a thick layer of fun and games.” He even reflects on how he rediscovered his love for driving:
I was falling a bit out of love with driving. That it was becoming a chore. Who could have imagined that it would take a five-door, five-seater Korean hatchback to remind me what fun the road can be? I really loved this car.
Jeremy ClarksonBritish motoring journalist
Italy’s Motorionline praises KONA N’s everyday sports car characteristic. “Right from the first few kilometres, the car surprised us with its everyday usability, much more so than the Hyundai i30 N, from which it takes its mechanicals and engine.” The publication continues with how much fun the ‘hot SUV’ is to drive: “Everything about KONA N contributes to the fun behind the wheel, starting with the masterful exhaust system, full of pops, bangs, distinctive sounds, and distinctive tones.”
The German Auto Motor und Sport raves about KONA N. Their verdict is that “Hyundai has managed to take the driving experience of the i30 N to a higher level.” The German publication highlights its “decisive factors: the tight chassis tuning and the front-wheel-drive with controlled differential. In any case, the driving pleasure is far greater than with the all-wheel-drive competition.”
Disclaimer: CO2 and emissions data
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i30 N 2.0 T-GDI (250 PS) with 6MT in l/100 km: 7.7; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 175 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i30 N 2.0 T-GDI (280 PS) with 6MT in l/100 km: 8.0; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 182 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i30 N 2.0 T-GDI with N DCT in l/100 km: 8.4; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 191 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i30 Fastback N 2.0 T-GDI (250 PS) with 6MT in l/100 km: 7.7; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 175 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i30 Fastback N 2.0 T-GDI (280 PS) with 6MT in l/100 km: 8.0; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 182 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i30 Fastback N 2.0 T-GDI with N DCT in l/100 km: 8.4; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 191 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai i20 N 1.6 T-GDI (204 PS) with 6MT in l/100 km: 6.9; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 158 (WLTP)
- Fuel consumption combined for the Hyundai KONA N 2.0 T-GDI (280 PS) with DCT in l/100 km: 8.5; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 194 (WLTP)