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Kona, the Quiet Evolution of the Subcompact Crossover SUV


The Kona's greatest strength is not in its design, but in its dynamic steering. Here’s why the Kona is a boundary-pushing subcompact crossover SUV.

There is much more to the KONA, in addition to its unique design.

In fact, the KONA was recently chosen as the 2019 North American Car in-class of SUVs, smashing the preconception that subcompact SUVs don’t do every well in the United States. For a subcompact SUV, the KONA has an extraordinary amount of effort put toward boosting its driving-performance. We already discussed in-depth on the unique design aspects of the KONA, so we will put greater emphasis on the driving performance.

The KONA has it all
A turbo engine, dual-clutch, and 4WD

In Korea, KONA’s powertrain is available in two types: the 1.6L gasoline direct-injection turbo engine, and the 1.6L diesel engine with 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Furthermore, the gasoline turbo engine and the 7-speed dual-clutch powertrain comes with a 4WD system. That is the part we want to get into depth.

The KONA’s turbo-engine and 4WD system is unique in class, driving over virtually any terrain.

Of course, there are other subcompact SUVs with turbo-engines, dual-clutch transmissions, and 4WD systems. However, having all of those functions in a compact package is to the KONA. The optimized platform package allows the KONA this benefit.

The KONA’s transmission transfer case angle was altered to allow for the 4WD system. Its drive train and exhaust system in the underbody was also optimized. This allowed for the 4WD system to be implemented with minimal compromise in the fuel tank capacity and interior space. The effort to install a dedicated turbo intercooler for the compatibility of the 4WD system and turbo-engines is also worth noting.

Thanks to this attention to detail, the KONA is not only a subcompact SUV that boasts a stylish design, but also is rich in performance with a turbo-engine, a dual-clutch transmission, and a 4WD system.

Powerful turbo gasoline and diesel engine, and electric motors

This is where the KONA’s power is generated; the 1.6-liter diesel engine and turbo gasoline engine

The power is generated from the two engines above. First, the direct-injection gasoline turbo engine has a maximum output of 177 horsepower at a maximum torque of 27.0 kg-m. The diesel engine has a maximum output of 136hp with a more powerful torque of 30.6 kg-m.

The KONA turbo’s instant acceleration empowered by a powerful engine and a rapid-switching 7-speed dual clutch transmission outpaces competing models. Competing models’ 0-100 kmph acceleration takes 10 seconds or longer, while the KONA turbo cuts the tape in the 7 second range. More important, the KONA turbo’s performance shines even brighter in the 60-100 kmph range for everyday driving and particularly overtaking on the highway. Competing models take 7 seconds or longer to accelerate in that range, while the KONA does it in the 4 second range.

The KONA Turbo boasts outstanding performance, while the diesel version offers amazing efficiency as well, while running 60-100 kmph acceleration in an extraordinary 5 second range. Efficiency is even more impressive. With 16-inch rims, the combined fuel economy reaches up to 16.8 km / L. This means minimum fuel consumption and greater range.

The KONA Electric boasts high efficiency, with a city range of up to 444km.

The KONA Electric, the EV variant of the KONA, also offers outstanding performance. The KONA Electric’s lithium-ion battery holds an ample 64kWh charge, which drives the 204 horsepower (150kW) electric motor. The most noteworthy performance aspect is the 406km range on a single charge; the greatest range in class. Limited to city-driving, the maximum range stretches even further to 444km. With a 100kW rapid charger, the battery can be charged to 80% capacity in 54 minutes.

The KONA’s chassis truly shines in corners and winding roads outside of city limits.

Powertrain performance doesn’t limit the EV’s maneuverability. The KONA’s chassis was designed for agile and responsive driving in the city environment, as well as various other driving environments.

Convenience features unmatched by competing in-class models

he KONA’s combiner HUD is so rich with information that it makes you ask,
‘what is a dashboard?’

A single drive on the KONA and it becomes obvious just how much convenience features are offered.

The combiner HUD (Heads-Up-Display) is a great example, providing the driver with useful information. The KONA is the compact SUV in the Korean auto-market that has an HUD. The information displayed on the HUD includes: tachymeter, navigation, cruise control, speed-limit warning, LKA, BCW, FCA, low-fuel warning, and infotainment. This allows the driver to focus on the road and the forward area of the path, with minimal need to take eyes off the street and at the dashboard, allowing for a more convenient and safe driving experience.

The KONA is also first-in-class to provide wireless charging for smartphones, a feature key to smart SUVs.

Glance down to find the first-in-class smartphone wireless charger. The wireless charging tray is positioned just below the center fascia and in front of the gear lever. The wire-free, tangle-free functionality increases convenience and overall neatness of the driving environment. The tray is spacious enough to charge devices up to 6 inches.

Connectivity features supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The infotainment system supports connectivity features of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing the 7-inch display to be used with various smartphone features. The KONA offers its own in-cabin entertainment through the KRELL sound system, first among Hyundai cars. KRELL sound system provides passengers with high-fidelity playback that captures the details and nuances of the original recording in 3D.

Unseen driver-support from the ADAS
(Advanced Driver Assistance System)

The easiest way to check ADAS on the KONA

Skim through the KONA’s operator manual, and you will find a lot of acronyms and abbreviations. The acronyms may be strange at times, but they are certainly worth knowing what they are. Some common acronyms are FCA, LKA, HBA, BCW, DAW, and RCCW. All of them pertain to the Advanced Driver Assistance System, or the ADAS, which helps the driver operate the vehicle more conveniently and also safely. Other Hyundai and Kia Motor vehicles implemented those features, but a subcompact SUV to feature so many of them at once has been rare. So far, the KONA has been the only one. This is where it becomes apparent that the KONA’s engineers paid particular effort to improving driver safety and convenience.

FCA (Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist) detects obstacles to the forward area of the vehicle, that the driver may have missed, to prevent accidents

The KONA’s ADAS performs safety functions, whether or not the driver is aware of it. FCA detects hazards to the front of the vehicle such as other cars or pedestrians, and warns the driver, autonomously slowing down the vehicle as necessary to avoid a collision. The detection is based on forward-facing radar and cameras that gather information in real-time to detect risks.

LKA allows safe driving down the lane

LKA (Lane Keep Assist) uses a front-facing camera on the windshield to track the lane, and when it detects possible deviation, helps steering to stay in lane. The driver can select on the dashboard display one of three options: Lane Departure Warning (LDW) mode, Standard LKAS mode, and Active LKAS mode. System intervention switches from passive to active in that order. LDW merely offers a warning when lane departure is detected, but Active LKAS actively engages the steering system to keep the vehicle in the lane.

HBA activation means the driver does not need to manually turn the high beam on and off at night

HBA (High Beam Assist) is another major ADAS on the KONA that automatically adjusts headlamp range, switching between high and low beam. It reduces the inconvenience of frequent switching between high and low beam when driving at night, allowing for safer conditions for all on the road.

BCW (above) and RCCW (below) prevent accidents caused by blind-spots in the front and back of the vehicle

BCW (Blind-spot Collision Warning) warns the driver when another vehicle approaches from the rear at a blind-spot angle. RCCW (Rear-Cross Traffic Collision Warning) works on a similar concept, warning the driver if there is an approaching vehicle from the rear when the driver is backing up out of a parking space, for instance. Last but not least of the ADAS is DAW (Driver Attention Warning) which detects 5 levels of driver fatigue and negligence, sending pop-up messages or warning sounds to the driver to encourage rest or greater awareness.

Today we went over the abundance of leading features in the KONA, not available among in-class competitors. From the immediately noticeable to the more subtle, the KONA is rich with fundamental features that stay true to what a car should be – a safe and convenient means to take passengers from point A to point B. The best that technology has to offer, delivered with great car and design, is a part of the KONA that should be experienced to be understood.