HYUNDAI is expanding its range of high performance N models with a hot version of the Kona compact SUV which is guaranteed to put a grin on any driver's face.
Like other members of its sporty N sub-brand, the Kona N comes with a Grin Control System which adjusts the car's set up with five drive modes - Normal, Eco, Sport, N and N Custom.
It is just one of a number of features which make the Kona N a genuinely impressive performer.
It is the Korean car maker's first performance SUV and joins the hot versions of the i20 and i30 hatch and fastbacks in its N stable.
Priced from £35,395 it is highly competitive against the likes of the Audi RS Q3, the Cupra Ateca and the John Cooper Works version of the MINI Countryman.
The Kona N is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 280ps that is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission specially developed to boost performance.
As such it has a top speed of 149mph, a brisk 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 5.5 seconds and an official fuel return of 33.2mpg with emissions of 194g/km - a figure not far off the mark of the 31 to the gallon we achieved.
With an 11 gallon fuel tank that gives it an acceptable range and makes the Kona N one of the most practical sporty models around.
Luggage capacity is similar to the standard Kona and ranges from 361 to 1,143 litres meaning that the N's hot credentials have done nothing to diminish its practicality.
But being an N model it comes with a host of design tweaks inside and out including large air vents, aerodynamic bumpers and rear diffuser, a dramatic rear spoiler and extended side sills all with red accents to denote its special status.
There are also red brake calipers, twin exhausts,19-inch alloy wheels and a triangular shaped third brake light set high on the back spoiler.
It looks the part in no uncertain fashion while inside it has more exclusive features such as N-specific sports seats, metal pedals and Hyundai's digital instrument cluster which for the first time includes a racing head-up display designed to put everything a driver needs in their line of sight such as track maps and lap times.
An N Power Shift mode on the gearbox engages when more than 90 per cent of throttle is deployed to give maximum power to the wheels. It also engages launch control while the Grin Shift device gives instant overboost power for 20 seconds at the push of a button.
Another mode optimises gear changes allowing the driver to focus on steering when track driving.
But while the Kona N is a very serious performance car the fun does not have be confined to a circuit and the crackle from the ‘popcorn' sound active exhaust is a constant feature.
So are the car's safety features which include leading vehicle departure alerts, safe exit warnings and rear seat occupancy status as well as more common technology such as blind spot and lane keeping assistance.
It is a brilliant blend of performance and practicality and on the road the Kona N is surefooted and potent with top notch handling.
As with all Hyundai's the Kona N is protected by a five year, unlimited mileage warranty for added peace of mind while there's also a new Sonic Blue paint job developed specifically for the car included as one of seven colours available.
Those special paint finishes are the only optional extras on a car which otherwise is set up to be everything that any driver could wish for.