A STOVE-HOT version of the Hyundai Kona appears to be in the works as the Korean carmaker ramps up for both the arrival of its small SUV and the release of its N-badged performance sub-brand.
The Kona is due on sale in Australia in September as a potentially sharp riding, and driving, rival to the likes of other compact SUVs including the Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Juke and Toyota C-HR – only the Juke, we note, has a more sporty version in the form of the Juke Nismo.
But as these pictures of the Kona’s high-speed workout at the infamous Nurburgring racing circuit in Germany suggest, Hyundai appears confident enough in the vehicle’s dynamics to one day allow it to wear an N badge alongside the larger Tucson version – something that would be extremely appealing for performance-addicted buyers in Australia.
“It could just be a general dynamics sign-off that they’re doing on the Nurburgring,” Hyundai Australia spokesman Bill Thomas said. “It is possible the Kona could one day wear an N badge, but that’s not yet been worked out.
“We’re not going into it in too much detail yet, but we’ve seen the i30 N and we could branch out from there,” he said. “Various other brands have shown that they can make an SUV handle.”
Few other details are known about the Kona. It’s likely to get either a turbocharged 1.6-litre diesel or petrol engine under its shapely bonnet when it arrives here: a long way from the 202kW 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder used for the Hyundai i30 N. An all-wheel-drive version of the Kona is yet to be confirmed.
If rumours are anything to go by, the Kona could also become the carmaker’s first all-electric SUV, due next year. Hyundai is ramping up to launch its Ioniq, a small car built on a unique platform, here as early as this year with the choice of a petrol-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric drivetrains, a line-up the Kona could one day mirror.