The Hyundai Kona N is likely to have at least 247bhp if the high-performance small SUV gets the green light from management and enters production by the end of the decade.
Albert Biermann, the man in charge of Hyundai’s N sub-brand, has revealed that he has told his engineers to start work on a test mule of the vehicle, in the hope that it could get approval for production. And he has given a strong indication of its likely powerplant: the 2.0-litre turbo petrol from the current i30 N.
“I’ve told them [the engineers] to build the car and we’ll see what happens with getting it approved,” said Biermann. “It has to be the i30 N powertrain, really. Of course, we can give Kona different specifications on suspension and steering, although there are some common components we can use in that area as well, because it’ll be front-wheel drive, like the i30 N. But we already know that it has to be that car’s engine and gearbox for the Kona N, yes.”
We understand that the faster Kona is more likely to get the 250bhp, non-Performance Pack version of the i30 N’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, instead of the hotter 271bhp version. This would still give the Kona N a considerable power advantage over the most potent variant in the current line-up, which has 175bhp - and more than double the grunt of the fastest front-wheel-drive version in the regular range.
There’s no indication yet on whether Hyundai will choose to give the Kona the electronic front differential that features on the i30 N Performance Pack. But it would get more extreme styling, potentially including a rear diffuser, a small roof spoiler and exposed rear tailpipes instead of the regular Kona’s discreetly hidden exhaust.
The next two full-spec N models will be the Veloster N - to be sold in Korea and the United States, not the UK - and the i30 N Fastback. There’s still no word on when Hyundai will start to support its World Rally Championship programme with a performance version of the i20 supermini - although, given that the car has recently received its mid-life facelift, it’s conceivable that it may not get an N variant until the all-new generation arrives in 2020.
In the meantime, N is planning to branch out into N Line models, which have more modest power figures but chassis and styling modifications. Biermann acknowledged, “We’ll bring i30 N Line to market later this year. We have reprofiled quite a lot of it over the conventional car - the steering, the gearshift, the springs, shocks and dampers. It should be a useful new model in the range and help to build the N brand.”
The i30 N has been well received as a first effort from Biermann’s team. “We’re at over 1,400 back orders in Germany,” he said, “so supply has been an issue. But the reaction has been very positive. We set ourselves a position on performance and handling and it seems that it is a good balance.”
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