The brand-new VW T-Roc R's reign as best new hot crossover might soon be under threat from the Hyundai's upcoming Kona N, which is expected to repackage all the i30 N's most desirable ingredients when it launches in 2020. Spy shots of an undisguised car testing on the Nurburgring suggest the Kona's public unveiling isn't too far away, which is handy given the recent appearance of the like-minded Audi SQ2 and Cupra Ateca.
Given the Kona's mechanical similarity to the i30 - it's built on the same platform - it's almost certain the new model will share the hatchback's 2.0-litre T-GDI, likely with the same 250hp and 275hp outputs (assuming it doesn't jettison one option in the UK). Hyundai isn't expected to boost the output of the i30 N at its next update, so it's unlikely the Kona will enjoy a power advantage over its closest rivals. It will, however, add its DCT auto to the list of options so there's a good chance a two-pedal model will be offered to Kona N buyers from the off.
Either way, the character of Hyundai's i30 N hatch and Fastback suggest this could be the most vigorous offering yet in an increasingly busy segment. There's certainly room for it, with even the popping and crackling T-Roc R still very grown-up (and admittedly really rather good). Albert Biermann's machine would only need to repeat what the i30 N does with a closed throttle on turn in to carve itself a USP. Although we'd be surprised if the Kona's N adaptive drive modes were as firm as the i30's because, well, that would seem a bit OTT for a crossover.
As far as design changes go, the Kona N illustrates its status change with thicker arches, bigger wheels and a twin-exit exhaust system. The latter might even make the same entertaining noises as the hatch, but the tips of the spied car are smaller than the facelift i30 N we saw the other day, so we suspect the Kona N might be a little quieter. Makes sense, of course, although we're still hopeful that this will be the black sheep of in an otherwise bland herd. Over to you, Albert.