Toyota GR Corolla vs Hyundai Kona N – The Hottest Hatch Breakdown

Which hot hatch would you prefer? The Kona N or the GR Corolla?

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#KonaN #GRCorolla #CivicTypeR

Now, of course, I haven’t driven the GR Corolla yet, so we’re going to go through these things mostly on paper, with a couple sprinkling in of things that I do know

We’re going to talk:

Engines
Transmissions
Differentials/Drivelines
Tires
Suspension/chassis
Exterior design
Interior amenities
Culture/brand
Price/availability

So we’ve got a lot to cover so let’s dive in

Engines: Both use turbocharged engines, but shockingly they’re not both 4 bangers
N: same 2.0T 4cylinder making 276 hp and 289lb-ft (but there’s NGS for another 10 hp)
GR: 1.6T 3 cylinder making 300 hp and 273lbft

The N motor brings more torque and it makes it lower in the rev band (1500 rpm peak)
The GR motor doesn’t make peak torque until 3000 rpm which means it wants to get revved out more

This might, in theory, make the N car feel more agile at lower speeds, but my only concern with the GR motor is that it’s a 1.6 making 300 hp and it’s begging to get revved out. I know this is Toyota, but that sounds like a lot more strain on the engine which brings concerns of longevity and reliability

Transmissions: Interestingly there is no crossover in trans options for the Kona and Corolla
N: The Kona only comes in 8 speed DCT which is a fabulous gearbox, plus you get the overboost with that gearbox
GR: the Corolla only comes in 6 speed manual with rev matching

Personally, i lean Elantra N over the kona and the transmission option is the big reason why. I want the manual, but if you live in the city or deal with a lot of traffic then the DCT is a phenomenal gearbox…lots of drama, lots of sounds. Never boring

I’ve driven the Corolla XSE in manual, but this trans is a totally different unit so who knows just yet

Differentials: Both cars are fairly similar here with one main difference
N: All N cars are FWD with an eLSD with torque vectoring as std. And it’s incredibly good
GR: The GR comes as std with AWD and open diffs – you can get the performance pack to get LSDs on front and rear axles

Additionally, you can tailor your torque distribution in the GR to 60:40 front, 50:50 symmetrical, or 30:70 rear depending on what you want to do

This allows for the big thing the Kona won’t allow you to do…skids and slides…

Big point of the Corolla here

Tires:Both come equipped with more aggressive performance tires
N: Michelin PS4S tires
GR: Michelin PS4 tires

N has slightly more aggressive tires, but the GR has AWD traction so it’s kind of a wash

Suspension/chassis: Both come with a revised and more rigid chassis than the normal car. More bracing, more welding, and more adhesives make it more rigid
N:MacPhearson strut front with multilink dual wishbone rear (adaptive dampers)
GR: MacPhearson strut front with dual wishbone multi-link rear (static rate damper)

I haven’t driven the Corolla, but the Kona, even in comfort mode is a little overdamped for my taste. Will have to wait until I can try the Corolla to make the call. Very similar here

Exterior: Both look much racier than the normal car
N: the look is subjective, but it’s a bit much for me. It’s not bad just a lot going on on the front end
GR: The Corolla looks a little more naturally aggressive to me. The wide rear hips and the front fascia fit better to me

Both use some functional venting and cooling, but looks are subjective so leave your thoughts below in the comments

Interior: Both interiors are based on economy cars so don’t expect the Rolls Royce treatment, but there are some cool nuances
N: There’s blue stitching everywhere, N buttons on the wheel, Red NGS on the wheel
No light up seats, no sunroof
GR: Specific wheel, alcantara seats, no sunroof

N: It’s comfy, but the rear is pretty small – it’s a short wheelbase and you feel that in the rear
GR: It’s a longer wheelbase and a more useable backseat

Both cars get digital clusters, wireless charging, wired ACP, and driver assist stuff, but the Kona comes with it all standard
Price/Availability: This one has a star next to it because we don’t have pricing info for the Corolla yet
N: fully speccd out this thing is under $35,000 – it really only comes one way and paint is the only option you have

GR: this, with AWD, a hp number that starts with a 3, and some more “prestige” to it I would be shocked if it MSRPd for less than $38-40k…again, I don’t know, but this is more looking to the Civic Type R as a competitor and the type R will likely be ever closer to the 40k mark

Posted by asami