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Hyundai Kona N launch could be delayed

Hyundai’s highly speculated and all but confirmed Kona N could be delayed due to coronavirus production delays.

HYUNDAI WILL launch its first hot SUV this year, following in the footsteps of the i30 N and Veloster N hot hatches onto Hyundai showrooms.

Confirmation of the SUV comes via an internal presentation from Hyundai in South Korea which we published in our i30 N Sedan report last week. On that same production timeline is the Kona facelift and Kona N (rendered above by Autobild), currently slated to start production in July this year.

However, strict lockdown measures in South Korea, a country hit early on by the COVID-19 spread, caused a slowdown in production and closure of local steelworks, which could delay new models and has put a squeeze on global supply. Hyundai responded by asking employees to resume rotational shift hours but this doesn’t mean it will resume full production, with only five of its 20 global factories operating in March before it further closed down plants in Vietnam,Turkey, and India. Currently, only South Korean and Chinese facilities are operational.

Hyundai’s executive team has responded to the expected 49 billion won (AUD $63m, according to Im Eun-yeong, Samsung Securities analyst) loss over the period with 1200 members of the Hyundai executive team returning 20 per cent of their salary.

The slowdowns could also affect scheduled production, meaning the Kona N, i30 N Sedan and other Hyundai and Genesis models might be delayed.

It is expected that the Kona SUV should be taken up by Australia if the model and right-hand drive production is confirmed. Late last year, a Hyundai spokesperson told Practical Motoring it was keen on any right-hook N product.

“Sure, we’d take any N product we can get,” they said.

“We’ve got our hands up for Veloster N [but] we’re not getting anywhere because they’re just not available in right-hand drive.”

The latter has been confirmed to be the first N product available with the brand’s 8-speed DCT, completely revised for application in hotter N product. The Kona will more than likely be equipped with the same DCT as the only transmission, mated to the performance brand’s familiar 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine which produces 202kW and 353Nm in the i30 N for Australia. We can also expect a much sportier appearance and dynamic handling improvements going from spy photos and reports at the Nurburgring.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae