It’s hard to believe the Hyundai Kona has been on sale in South Africa for three years. We first saw it in Metal at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, and it was released the following year.
Now is the time for a refreshed version of Hyundai’s crossover, which sits between the Creta and the Tuscon.
So what’s up? The South Korean automaker has added a new flagship 1.6-liter turbo petrol engine with 146 kW and 265 Nm. The 1.0-liter forced induction mill is replaced by the naturally aspirated 2, 0 liters. entry-level engine option. I had a brief stroll in the latter when it launched in Cape Town this month. (We will have the new engine for a full road test ASAP).
A trio of models make up the lineup ahead of the Kona N performance flagship launch in Q1 2022. Yes, Hyundai fans can expect the i30 N’s sibling to be top-of-the-line in a few months. Not to be confused with the high-performance model, at R579,000, the Kona N Line is a spec package packed with all the perks you’d expect from a crossover that costs well north of half a million Rand.
Across the lineup, the updated Kona’s bolder front demands attention, with a wider and wider grille, split headlights, LED daytime running lights and a light gray bumper in the part. lower. At the rear, the bumper also sports a light gray tint and has been widened. If the Kona’s pre-facelift styling came apart, the 2021 model could cause an even wider fracture.
For those who value technology and kit, the Executive model I drove comes equipped with a plethora of features. Compared to its predecessor, electronic stability control and automatic climate control are standard across the range. Other notable features of the Executive model include cruise control, heated power mirrors, automatic halogen headlights, black artificial leather seat covers, wireless charging, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features included), rear parking aid with rear view camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and side airbags and a tire pressure monitor. That’s a pretty impressive list of standard kits. From a practical standpoint, the rear seats fold into a 60:40 configuration and all three seats are fitted with three-point seat belts, Isofix mounts are also standard.
In and among Cape Town’s afternoon traffic, Kona’s CVT played its part in the background without much noise. However, the moment I switched the configurable drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Smart) to Sport and smashed the throttle, in true CVT form, it buzzed as the English fans losing a final of football. This is however something that we expect from CVTs.
Turning off the N1 and through the busy city streets to more twisty asphalt along the Atlantic coast, the Kona’s steering feels rather heavy, if a bit artificially. There’s a confidence-inspiring amount of grip from the front axle and we can’t wait to test the performance of the new 1.6-liter engine. The 2.0-liter engine delivers an admirable punch when overtaking and paired with the CVT conveys a relaxed driving style. It’s clear driving this derivative that the chassis can handle a lot more horsepower, and it’ll be interesting to get a feel for that once we’ve driven the 1.6-liter and N versions.
For peace of mind, the range is sold with a mechanical warranty of 7 years or 200,000 km and a maintenance plan of 5 years or 75,000 km. Perhaps the clincher for the Kona is that this Executive model is only R5,000 more expensive than the pre-facelift, but includes a lot more kits than before.
The Korean brand has built a solid customer base with its wide range of crossovers and SUVs, from Venue to Sante Fe, it has a player in all niches. Since its launch in 2018, only 1,699 Konas have found a home. For the updated model, it faces competition from Mazda CX-30, Volkswagen T-Roc, and Audi Q2.
The Korean has a trick up its sleeve, it offers a full list of standard equipment compared to its Germanic and Japanese rivals. First impressions are good, and certainly an improved product over the model we drove three years ago.
Model: Hyundai Kona 2.0 Executive IVT
Engine:2.0-liter, 4-cylinder petrol
Power:110 kW @ 6,200 rpm
Couple:180 Nm @ 4,500 rpm
0-100km / h:ten, 78 seconds
Top speed:194 km / h
Fuel consumption:8.6L / 100km
CO2:166 g / km