Exhilarating” is the phrase I’d use to sum up the Hyundai Kona N. There aren’t that many automobiles that cross my path that I don’t need to get out of, not to mention hand again on the finish of some days. So the agony and misery I felt at saying goodbye to the Kona N was unsettling certainly. It’s only a South Korean scorching compact SUV, I inform myself. It’s £35,395, for heaven’s sake. Nobody in the actual world has a lot thought what a Hyundai is, or a Kona – nonetheless much less what the “N” stands for. Principally, it’s Korean for “GTI”, as in Volkswagen Golf GTI, or, extra not too long ago, the much less acquainted “R” within the Volkswagen Golf R.
Now I can think about that, for a lot of, the “N” stands for “not ”, however I really feel obliged to say that, in keeping with Hyundai, it derives from the Namyang district in South Korea – “the birthplace of the N model” and the situation of Hyundai’s international R&D centre – together with the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, which is house to Hyundai’s technical centre; and the “N” form can be a illustration of a basic chicane, or a good serpentine flip within the street. So far as I can see, from a brisk run round some nation lanes, “N” is for “nuts”.
None of that issues, after all – a rose by every other identify and all that. What issues is that this can be a automobile that, on the contact of slightly purple button on the steering wheel, can rework from a sporty little SUV into one thing nearer to a WRC contender.
As soon as once more, there’s a mysterious nomenclature – “NSG”. This, revealing a way of humour hardly ever encountered within the automotive business (which tends to take itself fairly critically), stands for “N grin shift”, which is fully acceptable. The NSG thingie doesn’t simply rework the automobile, however turns you, the typical driver, right into a Flying Finn rally contestant. The automated gearbox holds the revs as you speed up, whereas the adaptive suspension makes the automobile extra bouncy however with a more durable, tauter really feel.
It pumps an additional 10 brake horsepower to the 4 wheels, by way of an computerized limited-slip differential (so much less wheel spin), with the grip gifted by WRC-grade Pirelli P Zero tyres. Even driving down the excessive avenue in NSG mode, the automobile pops and grumbles like some type of badly customised boy racer, with the soiled secret that it’s really received state-of-the-automotive-art engineering permeating its total being.
So it goes on, and on, and on in direction of the horizon, however with the automobile doing a lot of the laborious work. It is going to even let you know when a tough bend is developing, and tries to interact in its sportiest mode if it senses you’re in heavy visitors or that there are obstacles close by. It’s as should you have been within the fingers of petrolhead angels. Extremely satisfying, then, and reasonably sensible. Its closest rival is the Ford Puma ST, which can be quick and has a greater design to it (together with a intelligent deep “mega field” within the boot).
That’s about it actually. It’s received a pleasant tasteful inside, slightly understated in contrast with the extrovert physique equipment on the skin, and the mix of touch-screen, button and dial controls works higher than most. The one flaw, which it shares with different efficiency fashions (eg from VW) with dual-shift clutches, is a generally disappointing hesitation from relaxation because the automobile’s software program catches up together with your directions. Aside from that niggle, the Hyundai Kona N is exhilaration in automotive type: it’s what it stands for.