Revitalised looks and engine choices see the 2021 Hyundai Kona come out fighting
When Hyundai launched the all-new Kona in 2017 it entered a small SUV segment that was already chock-full of established stars. We speculated that it could well have left its run too late, but more than 40,000 Kona sales – accounting for 23 per cent of Hyundai’s total volume – have since proved our musings way off the mark.
What tech does the 2021 Hyundai Kona come with?
This first major upgrade since the Hyundai Kona's launch heralds a raft of changes and aims to capitalise on the success of the brand's sporty N Line nameplate. Highlighting the facelift are a redesigned front grille and bumper, plus ‘stacked’ headlights and signature LED daytime running lights.
The revisions alter the Kona's appearance substantially, giving it a wider, more grounded road presence. Alloy wheels feature across the range, up to 18-inch for the Highlander and N Line.
Standard features in the base Kona and Active include a revised eight-inch multimedia screen with wireless Apple CarPlay, while the Highlander and N Line have a 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav and split-screen functionality.
A Harmon Kardon audio system is fitted to the Elite, Highlander and N Line, while wireless smartphone charging is standard on all models. The Highlander and N Line gain a configurable electronic instrument cluster, head-up display, and powered front seats.
How much does the 2021 Hyundai Kona cost?
With the additional spec comes a price rise. The $26,600 Kona is a $2300 jump over the old entry-level Go, the Active is priced at $28,200, the Elite is $31,600, and the Highlander is $38,000. The new N Line slots in between the Elite and Highlander at $36,300, while the N Line Premium rounds out the range at $42,400.
New powertrains feature across the range. The 2021 Hyundai Kona, Active, Elite and Highlander get a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and CVT, delivering a 14 per cent improvement in fuel consumption over the old combo. AWD is exclusive to the new N Line variants, which gain a zippy 1.6-litre turbo and seven-speed DSG. This engine develops 146kW and 265Nm from 1600-4500rpm and has a claimed fuel figure of 6.9L/100km.
2021 Hyundai Kona safety
Hyundai’s SmartSense safety tech has been upgraded and now features forward collision-avoidance assistance, lane following assistance, smart cruise control with stop/go, and rear occupant alert (to avoid unintentionally leaving children or pets in hot cars).
At the launch in Orange, we sampled both the FWD 2.0-litre and turbo N Line versions over motorways and challenging sections of second-class road. Both models impressed, but the N Line was the highlight.
How does the 2021 Hyundai Kona drive?
The 2.0-litre has more than enough grunt by class standards and the CVT has eight ‘virtual gears’ designed to mimic a conventional auto transmission. It’s a refined package when driven leisurely, only becoming busy above 4000rpm when the stepped CVT changes engine revs. The extra torque the 1.6-litre turbo delivers in the N Line provides additional oomph, with the DSG sharper and more defined at shift points. The N Line actually feels a lot like Hyundai’s sporty Veloster coupé.
Overall the updates add a touch of sophistication missing from the Kona range, while the N Line gives it a sporty cachet. We’re eager to sample the full-blooded N Performance version due out later in the year – if it’s anything like the i30 N Performance hatch, it will be worth the wait.
The 2021 Hyundai Kona at a glance
Pros: More integrated styling; fuel efficient powertrains
Cons: No paddle shifters for the N Line