While we are just about to receive the Hyundai Kona here in Malaysia, the funky crossover has just received a new facelift globally along with a new N-Line option with several aesthetic and slight performance upgrades, going alongside the recently-announced Elantra N-Line as the new entry point to the company’s N Performance brand.
The biggest change on the exterior of the Hyundai Kona is at the front, where the face has been completely reworked for a sleeker and “sophisticated” (their words, not ours) look. The front grill is now slimmer and wider, with the Hyundai emblem moved upwards onto the bodywork, replacing the letterbox slit.
The unique eyebrow LED daytime-running lights have also been slimmed down, along with the sleeker main headlights lower down, now with three distinct beams. the slim and wide LED signature is also mirrored at the back on the new taillights, while the assembly itself remains identical to the outgoing model.
On the regular Hyundai Kona, the quirky SUV embraces a more rugged and robust look with a contrasting plastic cladding all around the bottom of the exterior, most notably the front and rear bumpers, with additional matte silver skid plates on the front and rear adds to further emphasise on the offroad-ready look.
The Kona N-Line meanwhile sheds all of the raw plastic claddings for a shiny N-Line front and rear bumpers – the front featuring the characteristic N-style aerodynamic lip with low corner fins and larger air intake with a mesh design, while a large aerodynamic diffuser in contrast colour takes up the bulk of the rear lower fascia, paired with visible twin mufflers at one side.
On the sides, the N-Line’s wheel arches are now finished in body colour, which makes the variant-exclusive 18-inch alloys pop even more. The regular Hyundai Kona gets new 17- and 18-inch wheels, along with the previous 16-inch design that has been carried over.
In terms of size, the Hyundai Kona facelift is 40 mm longer than the outgoing version, giving it a sleeker and more proportioned stance. For an even more striking look, buyers can even opt for a Phantom Black two-tone roof and matching mirror housings.
Inside, Hyundai says that they have gone for a more sophisticated (here it is, again!) and progressive design direction on the new Kona, which helps improve the perceived quality of the cabin. Overall architecture remains the same as before, though the centre console has now been disconnected from the dashboard, first seen on the Kona Hybrid.
New additions to the interior include an electric parking brake, new ambient lighting around the central cup holder and front foot wells, height-adjustable front seats, rear heated seats and USB ports, as well as rings around the speaker and air vents, finished in aluminium, to give it a classier look.
The interior of the new Hyundai Kona facelift also comes with new materials and colour choices, including black leather or fabric seats, or a fancier black and grey houndstooth-design upholstery. If you’re not a fan of black though, there’s also light beige trim colour option with optional Khaki leather seats and matching centre console.
The N-Line variant however only comes with the darker colourway with cloth, leather or suede seat options. To emphasise on the sportiness of the N-Line, there are red contrast stitching on the seats, steering wheel, and gearknob, metal pedals, as well as the obligatory N emblems littered in the cabin.
A 10.25-inch display takes the place of the instrument cluster, first seen on the i20, and can be paired to matching a 10.25-inch freestanding infotainment display, running Hyundai’s latest BlueLink software which provides several connected functionalities such as the brand’s latest Connected Routing navigation system with Last Mile Navigation, as well as live parking information.
The base Display Audio infotainment system have been upsized to eight inches in diameter (from seven), which now supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The voice recognition system has also been improved, now supporting more in-car functions such as window heating or climate control.
On the safety front, Hyundai’s SmartSense system on the new Kona has also received a sizeable upgrade. New features include an improved Smart Cruise Control with stop and go function, Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist which can now engage the rear differential brakes, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, Lane Following Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (previously only a warning), Rear Seat Alert, Safe Exit Warning, and Intelligent Speed Limit Warning.
The camera-based Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection is now standard across the range, but an upgraded system which uses an additional sensor can now be fitted, with support for cyclist detection, which Hyundai says can work even in bad weather conditions.
As for powertrain options, the Hyundai Kona facelift range is now topped by an enhanced 1.6-litre T-GDi SmartStream engine, paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (7DCT) to deliver 198 hp. The top-of-the-range engine can be optioned with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The regular 1.6-litre SmartStream engine is now fitted with a 48V mild-hybrid system, bringing the power output up to 136 hp. This can be paired to a seven-speed DCT or the brand’s six-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (6iMT), and can be had in both two- and four-wheel drive configuration.
At the bottom of the pack is the 1.0-litre T-GDi SmartStream mill, putting out 120 hp as standard. A 48V mild-hybrid system can be fitted to this engine along with the 6iMT gearbox, though only the naturally-aspirated version will have a choice of either the 7DCT or the optional 6iMT.
The new Hyundai Kona hybrid powertrain, which was introduced just last year, have been retained on the facelift, featuring a 1.6-litre GDI engine paired to a 32 kW electric motor with a combined output of 141 PS. Power is sent to the front wheels only via a six-speed DCT, with power coming from a 1.56 kWh battery.
Unsurprisingly, the N-Line will only be available with the top-of-the-range 1.6-litre T-GDi SmartStream option, paired to the all-wheel drive set-up. Though, the N-Line does get a variant exclusive steering tuning to match the sportier characteristic of the vehicle.
All other variants of the new Hyundai Kona meanwhile have their steering and dampers tuned for a better ride comfort while still maintaining the sporty driving feel thanks to better lateral movement control.