High-rise hot hatches: Hyundai Kona N vs Cupra Formentor

High-rise hot hatches: Hyundai Kona N vs Cupra Formentor

The Hyundai just feels much more ordinary inside. The Alcantara seats, blue stitching and N buttons make it quite racy, but it’s still a nice version of a relatively cheap car. Like any modern Hyundai, it scores with its touchscreen infotainment system, which is simply more logical and responsive than the Cupra’s.

Aside from that, sitting in the Formentor, you feel that something strange is going on. This is a hot SUV test, but it’s actually debatable whether the Formentor is even an SUV. It just about looks like one from the outside, but when you get in it, you sink down much farther than you expect. You look out over a big, tall bonnet, but your hip point is the same as it would be in a Cupra Leon.

By comparison, you do genuinely climb into the Kona. Despite being a smaller car with less space in the boot and back seats, its tall, upright driving position feels much more like that of an SUV, and surely that’s what SUV buyers want?

While the Kona’s more pronounced SUV-ness will appeal to SUV buyers, I’m not sure the intense way that it delivers its performance will. Hyundai’s Michelin-star chefs have managed to create a very interesting recipe from conflicting ingredients. It’s going to be too spicy for some, but it’s definitely going to be memorable and make you want more – just not every day of the week. The Kona is remarkably hardcore, but surely if you covet a chassis and a powertrain that are this aggressive, you want to optimise everything and therefore go for a hatchback?

Ultimately, these two cars have such different characters that your choice will depend on personal preference, rather than which one is the objectively better car. The Kona is more likeable for how dedicated it is to being a driver’s car, but the Formentor is the easier car to recommend to someone looking for a fast crossover.