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Hyundai's Coolest Future SUV Is Secretly a Fire-Breathing Hot Hatch

Hyundai has announced a new Kona N packing the Veloster N's engine — and, presumably, its attitude.

hyundai kona n prototype
Hyundai

We love the Hyundai Kona. Technically, it's a small crossover, but it behaves like a perky, fun-to-drive hatchback. We're not the only ones who love it: after all, the Kona won North American Utility Vehicle of the Year in 2019. And if you prefer electrons to gasoline, the Kona Electric may be the best affordable Tesla alternative available...at least, for people with minimal space demands.

About the only thing we might consider missing from the Kona lineup is a high-performance version. Luckily for us, then, Hyundai has just confirmed that one is coming — and the details sound incredible.

The Kona N will employ the same powertrain as the Veloster N, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that puts out 275 horsepower; it will also get the Veloster N's new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. That combo produced sub-5.0-second 0-60 mph acceleration in the Veloster N during Car and Driver testing, so we're sure it'll make this l'il SUV all sorts of spritely.

Hyundai did not provide the full battery of details. But the Kona N will get launch control. Hyundai promises an "emotional sound experience," which presumably means it will sound as raucous as the Veloster N. The teaser photos hint at more aggressive styling than the regular Kona, with a rear spoiler and a dual-exhaust setup. Whether the Kona N will have front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive is a major outstanding question; Hyundai says it will provide more details in the coming weeks.

hyundai kona n prototype
Hyundai

Crucially, we also don't know whether the Kona N will come to the United States. (Hyundai released the information on its European site.) There would not seem to be a technical barrier, as Hyundai already sells both the Kona and that powertrain in the U.S. That said, there is precedent; other manufacturers have kept small, hot crossovers out of the American market.

If the Kona N does not come, Americans will still get an upcoming Tucson N Line and an N version of the Elantra, which was just named North American Car of the Year. Still..fingers crossed.

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