WITH funky and chunky looks combined with punchy performance, there’s plenty to like about the Hyundai Kona N.

Critics don’t necessarily see the sense in taking a body shell that’s designed for comfort and practicality, then putting a potent powerplant under the bonnet.

However, in the case of the Kona N, the so-called ‘hot SUV’ concept works – and it works well!

The drivetrain of the Kona N has been sourced from the company’s much-admired hot hatch, the i30 N. Not a bad start, hey?

Chester and District Standard: The Kona N on the rugged Pennine hills near Holmfirth in West YorkshireThe Kona N on the rugged Pennine hills near Holmfirth in West Yorkshire

That means you get a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, mated with an eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox and providing a healthy 280ps.

High levels of torque – 392Nm between 2100rpm and 4700rpm – add to the dynamic driving experience, while the electronically controlled diff ensures that torque steer isn’t too obtrusive under heavy acceleration.

A raft of clever electronics and a specially-designed sporty suspension set-up are more than a match for the power that’s on tap, making for a well-balanced and highly-entertaining drive.

Indeed, the car feels well-planted when cornering briskly, with fantastic levels of poise and grip as the Kona N devours corners with some aplomb.

With a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds, a satisfying burst of pace is available as and when it’s needed.

In terms of looks, the Kona’s squat and muscular appearance lends itself nicely to the more aggressive makeover.

Chester and District Standard: The Kona has a muscular look The Kona has a muscular look

In that sense, the more purposeful bodykit that comes with the N version blends perfectly with the Kona’s solid-looking silhouette.

At the front, you’ll find a revised design, including three distinctive air intakes located just above the grille.

The grille itself features the N badge offset to the left, with a blacked-out Hyundai logo in the middle.

A striking red line runs along the bottom of the vehicle from front to back, adding some visual spice, while the 19-inch black alloys further enhance the sporty vibe, as do the red brake calipers complete with N logo.

At the rear, the stylised diffuser in the back bumper looks the part, while two imposing drainpipe exhausts hint at the type of performance on offer.

Meanwhile, the smart rear spoiler features an integrates LED brake light. All very cool!

Once inside, the sporty theme continues, with the cabin featuring an array of N badging, alloy pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather and chrome-coated gear knob.

Chester and District Standard: The Kona N's sporty interior is also appealing The Kona N's sporty interior is also appealing

And you can’t help but be impressed by the amount of tech and creature comforts packed into the cabin for your comfort and convenience.

Climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, an electronically-adjustable driver’s seat, ambient lighting, and suede and leather upholstery are among the plus points.

In terms of ride quality, there’s no getting away from the car’s stiff chassis set-up, which means you’ll certainly notice any road imperfections. But that seems a small price to pay for the plus points offered by such a set-up.

With many SUVs, you tend to conclude that you’re better adopting a relaxed driving style and simply letting the car do its thing in a leisurely manner – but the Kona N has a habit of urging you to take the opposite approach.

For the more playful driver, a number of buttons will immediately catch the eye, notably N Mode - which provides maximum performance - and a bright red NGS button on the steering wheel.

This stands for N Grin Shift – something which boosts engine and gearbox performance for 20 seconds to achieve the speediest possible acceleration.

In conclusion, the Kona N is an endearing machine, with performance and looks that bring a smile to the face.

Hyundai Kona N

PRICE: £35,745

ENGINE: Turbocharged 2.0-litre 4 cylinder petrol

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed DCT

POWER: 280ps

TORQUE: 392Nm

0-62MPH: 5.5 seconds

CO2: 194g/km