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we can’t wait to drive it

Hyundai’s subcompact crossover, the Kona, has been a massive success with the critics. Both the internal combustion and electric versions of the Kona won Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards for 2020. Still, progress never stops; the Kona is due for a mid-cycle refresh soon. And according to Korean Car Blog, that refresh could be quite significant: the Kona seems to be getting a full-on N performance version.

The Kona N would be similar to the just-updated Veloster N hatchback, using a turbocharged 2.0-liter gas engine putting out 275 horsepower connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In theory, though, the Kona N could be even quicker off the line than the Veloster N, as its all-wheel-drive system would provide better grip than the Veloster N’s front-wheel-drive layout. (Korean Car Blog also says there will be a lighter Kona N-Line version, making 215 hp from a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.)

This car sounds spectacular — in theory. We certainly can’t wait to drive it. But whether people would want to buy a Kona N is less clear. The hot crossover could run into a similar problem to the BMW X2 M35i, where it’s too much of a hard-edged hot hatch for crossover people and too much of a crossover for people who buy hot hatches.

That said, the Kona N could offer nearly the same power and driving fun as the X2 M35i and be much cheaper. The Bimmer starts at almost $50,000. If the Kona N prices out similar to the Veloster N, it could begin under $30,000.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

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