William Liao

September 13, 2021

The Hyundai Kona N

The auto manufacturer, Hyundai, is coming out with a new crossover vehicle, the Kona N

The N in Kona N bears particular significance — only Hyundai’s most sporty cars have N at the end of their name (you can read more about it here).

An exciting feature that the Kona N will come with is a mode called “N Grin Shift”, which gives you 10 extra horsepower for 20 seconds. 

When I read about this feature this morning, I immediately wondered to myself: what is it about this feature that makes it so compelling? 

More specifically, I wondered: 

  1. Would it be equally enjoyable to have the extra 10 horsepower all the time? Or would the excitement of having more power quickly dissipate as we became accustomed to it? 
  2. Is there something special about having temporary access to just a little more power than what you’re used to having? 

Maybe there are mechanical limitations that prevented the engineers from giving you the extra 10 horsepower all the time. 


I contend that the more likely case is that the product design and engineering teams knew that temporarily offering more power would allow drivers to repeatedly trigger the sense of delight — the “grin” in “N Grin Shift” — that comes from having something they’re not accustomed to having. 

This philosophy of value creation isn’t new: it’s why stores offer limited-time discounts, it’s why we travel. It has similar underpinnings as the advice “underpromise and overdeliver”.

In practice the recipe for delight is just that — a recipe: understand what your customer expects and then offer them access to a little bit more value on top of that.