Hyundai Motor’s compact SUV Kona has returned to its new look within three years since its launch. The New Kona has evolved into a new model with improved practicality, design, and performance to become a more attractive compact SUV. The New Kona’s lineup consists of 1.6 gasoline turbo, hybrid, and N lines, to meet more various customer tastes. Among them, the Kona N line focuses on offering fun driving and showing its unique character, which all came from the sporty design elements and powerful performance of a high-performance N brand. It was the first N model among domestic Hyundai SUVs.
Sensuous Sportiness of N Brand
The first impression of the New Kona N line is quite intense. The dynamic and futuristic design of the New Kona stands out more with the N-line-exclusive parts. The unique style of the N brand and delicately formed 18-inch alloy wheels blend in throughout the body, offering the high-performance image that the N brand pursues.
The overall design looks similar to the regular model, but the new Kona N Line features the radiator grille with sophisticated patterns, the N Line emblem, with low-set air intakes, to emphasize the high-performance-model look. The new Kona gets a wider stance that gives the model a sleeker look. Upgraded daytime running lamps (DRL) give it a high-tech, sophisticated style. The N-Line exclusive bumper adds to its armored and high-performing appearance.
Kona N Line’s rear design reinforces the model’s dynamic image as well. The rear bumper incorporates a large central aerodynamic diffusor instead of a skid plate, in a contrast color to the body as well as a one-side double muffler.
Above all, the key changes in the design are the cladding and 18-inch wheels. Just as the regular Kona vehicles, the cladding of the Kona N line surrounds the body expresses a sense of volume. However, it looks even sleeker and smoother, thanks to its single body color, not a matte black. The diamond-cut alloy wheel also adds exquisite formality to complete the sporty image.
Interior that attracts high-performance vehicle lovers
The futuristic atmosphere stands out based on the spacious interior of the New Kona N line. The biggest feature indeed would be the high-tech sensibility through the screen display. The Kona N line has an LCD cluster of the same size as the 10.25-inch touchscreen, which provides more accurate and various information to the driver throughout clear visibility.
In addition, the infotainment control button has been placed below the screen to improve utility, and the cup holder features more high-quality looks with its chrome material. The digital cluster provides an optimized driving environment through shifting graphics depending on the driving mode.
The traces of the N line are easily found in the cabin. The N logo is on the steering wheel, gear knob, and leather seats, creating its own unique style. In particular, the steering wheel and the gear knob are designed exclusively for the N-line. Both the accelerator and brake pedals are made of metal, and feature a sporty cockpit with a black-colored interior and headlining. The red color decorates the dark interior, adding an energetic touch to the driver’s seat. The red color applied throughout the cabin, including seats and air vents, represents the privilege and high performance of the N line.
A robust powertrain that delivers agile acceleration
The New Kona N line’s powertrain consists of a third-generation Smartstream gasoline 1.6 turbo engine and a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The engine has a maximum output of 198 horsepower and a maximum torque of 27.0kgf·m, which is 21 hp stronger than the previous Kona (Gasoline 1.6 turbo model). The new engine has improved efficiency through CVVD (Continuously Variable Valve Duration) technology and integrated flow control valve technology, which freely adjusts the duration of the intake valve. As a result, the Kona N line 2WD model achieved a fuel efficiency of 12.7 km/l, and increased fuel efficiency by about 3.2% compared to its predecessor (based on gasoline 1.6 turbo, 18-inch tire, and 2WD).
The New Kona N line runs actively on the road. It is very quiet at first, but as you push the gas pedal, the Smartstream gasoline 1.6 turbo engine quickly becomes active and revs up. The DCT transmission changes gears smoothly and continues to accelerate lightly. The accelerating process is similar to a hot hatch equipped with a manual transmission. Enough power with fast shifts double the fun of driving, encouraging sports driving.
Driving Emotions Perfected with the High-Performance N Brand
The pleasure of driving does not only have to do with the sense of acceleration. The New Kona N line features an exciting driving performance with an agile response even in the process of entering a corner, slowing down, or turning around. The secret is the driving texture of the high-performance N brand. The Kona N line houses newly tuned brakes, steering, and suspension for differentiated driving emotions. The improved brakes provide sufficient force, and the quickly-responding steering and suspension that keeps you in control of the vehicle give you confidence while cornering. With its powerful powertrain and sporty driving performance that only the N line can offer, the Kona N line has finally become a high-performance compact SUV.
The seven-speed DCT is also quite impressive. DCT has the advantages of fast shifts and direct connection, but the shift shock is a common problem when the driver shifts the transmission too frequently at low speeds. However, the DCT of the New Kona N line does the job smoothly, and fast. Even when the vehicle stops and goes often while parking, the DCT was quick to operate without any shock or delay.
When the driving mode was changed to sports, the RPM skyrocketed as quickly as possible to maintain tight acceleration. The DCT shifted without hesitation despite frequent paddle-shift operations, and the Revolution Matching function, which literally matches the engine RPM to the shifting RPM during downshifting to offer fast and smooth shifting and deliver a higher level of shifting responsiveness fit for sporty driving, was also activated. The seven-speed DCT, which features fast-shifting, smart-shifting logic, and a sense of direct controlling, is a key strength of the Kona N line, which offers fun driving.
The High Performing & Practical New Kona N Line
Another upgraded feature is Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian and new, optional cyclist detection. The optional FCA uses a sensor in addition to a camera to better detect potential collisions. As another enhancement, FCA now comes as standard, including Safe Exit Warning, which provides a warning when a vehicle approaches from behind. The enhanced Highway Driving Assistant (HDA) was the biggest help while test driving. Thanks to the feature, driving was not demanding at all. The New Kona N line drove on its own at the set speed or the set distance from the car ahead, and assisting steering along the lane was smoothly done.
The New Kona N line excited the driver with its powerful driving performance and thrilling fun. Of course, it also offers both excellent practicality and efficiency. Other changes that consumers would welcome include the 10-liter-larger cargo space than the previous model and the sound insulation glass for a quieter cabin. As such, the Kona N line embraces the original Kona’s strengths and a sense of sportiness offered by the N brand. The true charm of the Kona N line is its versatility, which does not just look different, but satisfies various consumer tastes, including a more robust powertrain, agile and lively driving emotion, and excellent practicality.
※The test vehicle was the New Kona N Line Inspiration, and the specifications may vary depending on the trim.
Photograph by Choi Jin-ho