The new Kona N – a performance SUV within financial reach. $35,445; that’s the modest price of the Kona N – one of the most unique enthusiast cars on the market today…or shall I say SUV. However you describe the Kona N, this is Hyundai at its nuttiest and I mean that in a good way. The high-performance N story began with the Veloster and has since spread to the Elantra and now the Kona with more to come later this year. Available in white, black, blue or red with a 2.0-liter turbo, 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, a limited slip, electronically controlled shocks and summer-use Pirelli rubber, the Kona N is a front-wheel drive hooligan. With 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque delivered more linearly via what Hyundai dubs “Flat Power” technology, this is a torque-steering, exhaust-popping, rigid ride with fun technology built-in. Names like Grin Shift, Grin Control and Corner Carving Differential intertwine with N Mode infotainment creating a video-game-like atmosphere. There’s launch control, all sorts of ways to measure and monitor your performance and even built-in racetrack layouts with lap timers. This Kona is a hoot. It’s super stiff and gives you the feeling that you’re driving a rally car. Short for N Grin Shift, when you press this button it’s like inserting a sugar IV needle into a kid’s arm; 20 seconds of over-boosted turbo and the most aggressive shifting available when rapid acceleration is required. Kudos to Hyundai for producing something this crazy that isn’t so over the top that it’s completely impractical. This one’s for the driver who craves automotive personality.
This here is a nearly $60,000 car; a small, all-wheel drive purple sports coupe just trying to make its way in an SUV-obsessed world. But, for those in the know – and you’re about to become one of them – this is the performance bargain of your sports car dreams. It’s the all-new BMW 2 Series and it’s beyond good…it’s addicting.
What was originally known as the 1 Series Coupe upon its arrival in 2008 became the 2 Series Coupe in 2014. And now for its second act, this 2022 redesign introduces sexy new styling, a dash of additional horsepower, stickier handling and a modern interior…oh, and this new color Thundernight Metallic…a $550 option that gets all the stares. This week, I’m skipping over the base 230i model and jumping right into the current top trim; the M240i xDrive. The former – a 4-cylinder rear-wheel setup – starts at under $40,000 making it the least expensive way to get into a BMW car while the latter- this all-wheel drive turbo-6 – starts at about $10 grand more. Now, my last spin in one of these came in 2017 in the small but mighty M2, a version expected to be reintroduced next year. As for this one, it’s quicker, significantly more fuel efficient and about the same price as that M2 so I can only imagine BMW has grand plans for its resurrection. Nevertheless this here is likely enough M for most. Though it’s 3.5” longer about 2.5” wider and a little over 200 pounds heavier than before, this is undoubtedly still a driver’s car with a low slung body, subcompact dimensions and a willingness to please as an Ultimate Driving Machine should. It’s arguably the purest form of BMW ethos in their lineup. Now, it is a shame you can’t currently get one like this without xDrive and with a stick shift but a rear-drive M240i will follow shortly. As for the manual it looks like you’ll have to wait for the M2 for that. As the 3 Series has matured beyond just a sports sedan the 2 Series has become the driver’s repository for attainable German driving enjoyment.
TESTDRIVENOW OVERVIEW: 2018 LEXUS LC 500 QUICK TAKES • Flagship model joins elite class of international grand touring coupes • New vehicle architecture delivers unfettered driving pleasure • Winner of multiple EyesOn Design awards • LC 500 features 471-hp high-performance…