The Hyundai Kona made its global debut in 2017 but it was only in late October 2020 that the small SUV finally appeared in Malaysia. Now, just five months later, an updated version is being launched with a new powertrain and cosmetic changes for the 2021 model year.
The new powertrain is from the Smartstream family and is a bigger version of the engine found in the latest Elantra that was launched in Malaysia in December last year. The Smartstream G2.0 Atkinson 4-cylinder engine replaces the Nu 2.0 and Gamma 1.6 engines (the latter being turbocharged) that powered the 2020 Kona. Without turbocharging but with advanced technology that promotes efficiency, the output is 149 ps/180 Nm.
There are other powertrain choices (hybrid and full electric) but it could be that the high demand for the Kona, especially in Europe, makes it hard for Hyundai Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) to get allocation at this time.
Power goes only to the front wheels via a Smartstream IVT which was developed by the Hyundai Motor Group. It’s said to be better than a CVT while having the benefits of the CVT. The shifting patterns is more like a conventional transmission’s and the engineers have managed to eliminate the ‘rubber band feel’ of CVTs. Rather than having no set gear speed (as in CVTs), the driver can also take advantage of the virtual gear speeds generated by the IVT as needed, which do a great job in approximating the fun feel of the manual transmission.
Active and Standard versions, one engine only
HSDM is importing the Kona in Standard and Active versions, priced (without insurance) at RM119,888 and RM136,888, respectively, with 50% of sales tax exempted until June 30, 2021. The 2021 model has restyled front and rear ends which sharpen the profile, making it visually sleeker, especially with the extra 40 mm of overall length.
Stronger visual features
The Cascading Grille is a strong visual feature which extends to both corners, while the same LED lighting units are maintained (the slim lights at the top of each corner are the signal lights). To emphasise the SUV image are protective panels and a skid plate on the lower bumper. Integrated into the bumper corners are vertically oriented aerodynamic inlets that improve airflow.
At the rear, the new taillights feature horizontally stretched graphics. These mirror the front-end lighting theme. The new rear bumper, which continues the protective armour concept of the front and sides, also uses a contrasting coloured material. Depending on the variant, the alloy wheels are 17 inches or 18-inches in diameter with new designs.
Colour choices for the Kona Standard are Chalk White, Galactic Grey, Surfy Blue and Pulse Red, while those who buy the Kona Active variant have the option of Surfy Blue, Dive in Jeju, Ignite Flame, Dark Knight, and Misty Jungle.
Upscale and progressive interior
Packaging of a small SUV can be challenging for the interior designers as spaciousness is expected, being a SUV. Nevertheless, intelligent use of space provides the space and for the latest model, a number of revisions give a more upscale and progressive look. There are new colours and materials with seat cover options that include a black woven houndstooth design, cloth seats with black and grey embossing or perforated leather seats in black or beige.
The redesigned console area is separated from the instrument panel to emphasize the horizontal layout. The dashboard appears wide and airy, contributing to the spacious ambience. New for the Kona Active is a 10.25-inch digital cluster, in addition to an 8-inch AVN screen with multiple connectivity options. Wireless Android Auto and Apple are also available allowing apps like Waze and Spotify to be embedded in the infotainment system.
For convenience and space-saving, the parking brake is now electrically-actuated and has an auto-hold function. demand. Additionally, the new Kona now has a remote engine start function from the smart key.
Like other models in the market, the best safety features are only available in the most expensive version, in the case the Kona Active. This gets a range of SmartSense driver assistance systems such as Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist with Safe Exit Warning. The latter is particularly valuable not only to detect (and warn the driver) vehicles approaching from either side when reversing out but also detects oncoming vehicles from the rear and then displays a visual and audio warning to alert the passenger exiting the vehicle.
Other safety features include Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning with Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, Rear Occupant Alert and High Beam Assist. The Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) has also been upgraded with pedestrian and vehicle detection, and will activate Automatic Emergency Braking if the driver does not act correctly or in time to prevent an accident.
HSDM sells the new Kona with a 5-year or 300,000 km (whichever comes first) warranty and during the first 3 years (or maximum of 50,000 kms), the customer won’t have to pay anything for scheduled maintenance services.