Hyundai is pushing its N performance brand out into the world by adding the letter N to more models. The N cars split two ways, full-on N models such as the Veloster N are intended for and capable of hot-lapping racetracks, while the so-called N Line vehicles are more focused on street performance and appearance. Hyundai’s first crossover to get the N Line treatment is the Kona, but if the brand wants the letter N to gain credibility, it should consider adding more N into the Kona N Line.
Hyundai’s Sonata and Elantra N Line both get more power and tweaked chassis than their regular-duty counterparts, but the Kona N Line comes with the same turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four that customers can get in the Kona Limited. It is a punchy little engine with 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, but it’s not exclusive to the N Line or terribly special. Equipped with optional all-wheel drive, the Kona N Line got to 60 mph in a not-very-impressive 7.3 seconds. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard, but its shifts lack the urgency we’ve come to expect of a dual-clutch automatic.
With no additional power to speak of, the Kona N Line is essentially an appearance package that adds three vents above the grille (also found on the upcoming 286-hp Kona N), body-colored cladding, 18-inch wheels, and dual exhaust tips. The interior features red stitching throughout, metal pedals, and N logos on the steering wheel, gear selector, and seatbacks. It’s a taste of the N life and even looks like the full-on Kona N, but all show and no go isn’t going to win over enthusiasts who value substance and performance.
The Kona isn’t the only N Line product that doesn’t get any additional firepower; the Tucson N Line is also primarily an appearance package. We’re left thinking that the N Line versions of the brand’s SUVs, at least so far, are more about marketing. Hyundai did inform us that the Kona N Line shares its engine with the Limited to avoid powertrain complexity. We’re not asking for a unique engine, but at least something a little more special than what’s in a Kona Limited.
Why the Kona N Line exists may be down to Hyundai’s recent killing of the non-N Veloster models. The discontinuation of that car left a gap in the lineup, which is pretty much where the Kona N Line slots in. Like the Veloster, there’s a practical hatchback shape with a price in the mid-$20,000 range. Front-drive N Lines start at $26,925, while all-wheel-drive models start at $1500 more. Those prices are approaching Volkswagen GTI money and more than Honda charged for the last-generation Civic Si. Both of those cars are far quicker and more fun to drive than the Kona. We’d suggest waiting for the real-deal Kona N, as its power will likely back up its looks.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io