What Albert Biermann wants, he gets. A couple of years ago, he reportedly wanted to make a Hyundai Kona N, and now one of our spy photographers has caught one testing in the snow. Though it's well-covered, it can't hide some obvious performance-oriented changes.
The most obvious sign that this isn't your ordinary subcompact crossover are the wheels and brakes. The wheels look larger than the 18-inch units of the top-trim Konas, so probably 19-inch ones like those on the Veloster N with the Performance Package. These are clearly necessary to clear the huge brakes. And considering Hyundai's propensity to pick from its parts bin, they're likely the same rotors and calipers from the aforementioned Veloster N. Around at the back, this Kona bares two giant exhaust tips, whereas regular Konas in the U.S. have their exhaust tips hidden.
It's hard to tell how different the Kona N will look in regard to bodywork. The nose and tail are well covered. It does look as though there could be a sizable rear wing or spoiler based on the camouflage. We also can see a bit of the fender flares that have a gloss painted finish rather than the natural plastic finish of regular Konas. They almost look as though they're painted in the N sub-brand's signature pale blue color. So it could be that they're given the same color as the body or maybe in a contrasting color.
In keeping with the parts sharing, the Kona N will probably share at least the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder from the Veloster N, potentially with two levels of output: 250 or 275 horsepower. Then again, there is a 2.5-liter engine with 290-horsepower that could be used, which is appearing first in the Sonata N-Line. Regardless, such power in a small shell should be quite potent. Hyundai seems to think so, too, as our spy photographer pointed out that the vehicle that's accompanying the Kona in these photos is a Cupra Ateca, a small performance crossover with 300 horsepower and all-wheel drive. Since Hyundai has been working on this Kona N for a while, and this prototype looks close to production, we're expecting the Kona N to launch sometime in the next year and a half, probably as a 2022 model.