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Hyundai’s high-performance Kona N ‘barbarian’ on the way

A new breed of affordable performance cars is around the corner.Compact SUVs represent the fastest-growing segment in the new car sales race, and manufacturers are working to introduce high-performance versions of popular crossovers.Hyundai’s upcoming Kona N represents the new breed. Based on the high-riding Kona compact SUV, the Kona N is set to be powered…

A new breed of affordable performance cars is around the corner.

Compact SUVs represent the fastest-growing segment in the new car sales race, and manufacturers are working to introduce high-performance versions of popular crossovers.

Hyundai’s upcoming Kona N represents the new breed. Based on the high-riding Kona compact SUV, the Kona N is set to be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

While official power and torque figures have not been confirmed, the updated Hyundai i30N offers 206kW thrust from the same fundamental engine that may be offered in a car the manufacturer calls the “baby barbarian”.

Set to go on sale locally mid-2021, the Kona N will join a facelifted i30N and new i20N hot hatch due in the second quarter of the year. The latter shapes up as an alternative to Ford’s Fiesta ST, packing a 1.6-litre motor with 150kW of power.

A new i30N Sedan arrives in the second half of the year, forming part of a heavily revamped Hyundai line-up.

Rival manufacturers are preparing powerful alternatives similar to the Kona N.

Ford offers a Puma ST in Europe, combining a 147kW three-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission that makes it an unlikely starter in Australia.

But Volkswagen’s all-wheel-drive T-Roc R isn’t far away, offering the performance of a VW Golf R in a trendy new package, Renault is rumoured to be working on go-fast “Alpine” versions of its crossover range, and a second-generation Nissan Juke Nismo could also be on the cards.

Prestige brands have already bowled up baby performance SUVs such as the Audi RS Q3, Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, Mini Countryman JCW and BMW X2 M35i, but sub-$50,000 crossovers with punch are thin on the ground.

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