The Kona N-Line stands out with its sporty front and rear end, body colour claddings, and diamond-cut wheels. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Kona N-Line stands out with its sporty front and rear end, body colour claddings, and diamond-cut wheels. Picture: SUPPLIED

If you want a modern crossover with head-turning styling, I have a feeling you will fall in love with the face-lifted Hyundai Kona.

While the high waistline and roof, prominent black mud-cladding on its flanks and a front stack of lights of its predecessor remains, the upgraded version gets its individualism through clever design. It looks less bulky and yet it’s more practical. It’s also 40mm longer with the contours smoothed, a tapered snout housing a less upright and wider grille, and a slimmer stack of lights front and back.

A new range of paint choices includes Pulse Red, while 16-, 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels add to the visual spectacle. 

Step inside and you’re met with a snazzy interior typical of Hyundai. There are two grade levels on offer: Executive and N-Line. The latter was my test unit and it had leather-clad seats, clearly marked readouts, larger 20.3cm driver’s display and a 26cm main information display. The Kona also gets a push-start button, rear park assist with a rear view camera, climate control, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The 1.0 turbo has been replaced by a more powerful 1.6 turbo petrol with 148kW. Picture: SUPPLIED
The 1.0 turbo has been replaced by a more powerful 1.6 turbo petrol with 148kW. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mechanically, Hyundai SA gives you a choice of two petrol engines. When I last drove the old Kona it was powered by a turbo 1.0l three-cylinder that was exclusively fitted with a six-speed manual.

Now you can choose from the existing naturally aspirated 2.0l petrol engine with 110kW and 179Nm, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, or the variant I drove: a turbocharged 1.6l with 146kW and 265Nm, managed through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Adaptive cruise control, lane and follow assist, forward collision assist and blind-spot collision assist make up a raft of systems to help pilot this new model safely.

The suspension has been retuned to improve driving comfort. My first-drive verdict is of great ride quality with exceptional damping, making the Kona a pleasure on most surfaces. It has good new control measures, while the seats are comfortable and offer a good view of the rod and surroundings.

Redesigned cabin has new conveniences including a second-row USB port for backseat passengers. Picture: SUPPLIED
Redesigned cabin has new conveniences including a second-row USB port for backseat passengers. Picture: SUPPLIED

It’s a good cruiser and when you’re in a hurry the engine and transmission respond with agreeable intensity. It also proved stable and poised on its high-rise suspension through twisty roads.

The refreshed and more handsome Kona will do battle with the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Toyota C-HR and many more. The Hyundai Kona comes with a seven-year/200,000km warranty and a five-year/75,000km service plan.

Pricing:

Kona 2.0 Executive Auto — R449,900

Kona 1.6 TGDI Executive DCT — R499,900

Kona 1.6 TGDI N Line DCT — R579,900

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