What are the most fun sub-compact SUVs to drive in 2023?

What are the most fun sub-compact SUVs to drive in 2023?

29 May 2023 BY Jean-Sébastien Poudrier
Hyundai Kona N

The sportiness and performance of a vehicle can be measured on various levels. Certainly, there's the power and acceleration that we all know and which are perhaps the easiest elements to understand and compare. The fact is that these data can be easily represented by numbers, unlike other factors that are just as, if not more, important.


Firstly, there's agility. We're talking about how easily a vehicle moves from side to side. Braking is also an important element. The last thing you want when having fun on a track or testing the limits of a country road is for your vehicle to brake too late. The weight of a vehicle greatly affects its road behavior. Finally, one of the most important features, in my opinion, is the center of gravity. The lower it is, the better the vehicle's behavior. It's not an exact science, but let's say that cars have a significant advantage over SUVs in this regard.


What I'm getting at with all this is that the first thing I recommend when someone asks me which models to consider for driving pleasure is a car. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, SUVs are imposed on me for practical reasons or simply because it's the current trend.


No compromises.


Car manufacturers are well aware that buyers want more for their money when it comes to performance SUVs, but the problem is that they're usually very expensive. A Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat can take your breath away in less than 3.0 seconds, but it costs over $100,000. Some manufacturers have understood this, and that's why we're seeing more and more compact SUVs with sharp performance in the market.


It's a rapidly expanding category, and I must admit that I've found some gems during my road tests, even though I much prefer sedans or sporty hatchbacks.


There are plenty of options in the compact SUV segment today, and Subaru offers one of the most interesting models for adventure enthusiasts with the Crosstrek Wilderness. Even though it's not theoretically a sporty SUV, the Mazda CX-30 offers one of the most dynamic driving experiences in its segment. Then there's the Buick Encore GX, which doesn't lack power.


However, if I have to choose just one vehicle and we're talking about pure pleasure on the road or track exclusively, my heart clearly goes to the Hyundai Kona N. In my opinion, it's one of the best moves by the Korean manufacturer. The Kona N offers a sporty look and very precise road behavior. However, the best part lies under the hood in the form of a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that develops 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. This power is sent to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. It's a vehicle capable of giving you thrilling sensations despite its practicality and reasonable price of $43,156 for 2023.


Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

Tags: Buick, Dodge, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Buick Encore, Dodge Durango, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30

Author: Jean-Sébastien Poudrier