Everything you need to know about the Hyundai Kona and Hyundai Kona N-Line

By Motoring Staff Time of article published Jul 20, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - The sporty 2021 Hyundai Kona with a variety of upgrades, dynamic new looks and – for the first time – a sporty N Line trim, has arrived in South Africa. The Kona has been a success story for Hyundai since its global introduction in 2017, and in Mzansi around 1700 units of this crossover SUV model have been sold since its local introduction in 2018. With the latest product enhancement, the Kona will be available for the first time as an N Line version.

An enhanced powertrain line-up provides both sporty and eco-friendly options to suit a wide variety of buyers, according to Hyundai, while upgraded convenience features make for an even more satisfying ownership experience. The vehicle’s safety suite has also been improved with new active and passive safety features.

“We are excited about the new Kona – Hyundai’s designers have really done a fine job with the new styling features, especially on the front. The interior also has a new fresh, clean appearance, and the N Line stands out even more with its special exterior and interior styling treatments. We expect Kona sales to grow, and that this crossover model will take a stronger position in our leisure vehicle line-up,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.

The new Kona will be sold in South Africa in three variants with two specification and trim levels: the Kona 2.0 Nu Executive with an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT); the Kona 1.6 T-GDi Executive with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT); and the flagship Kona 1.6 T-GDi N Line, also with the DCT.


Design updates on the front and rear give the new Kona a sleeker look, which adds to the quirky design of the original model that was launched in 2018. The front end design stands out with protective cladding panels. At the top, the stretched bonnet ends sharply over the centre grille with a wide, distinctive shape and enhanced LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) provide a narrow, piercing look to the road ahead. Lower down, the main bumper fascia connects smoothly to the wheel arch claddings.

The side view retains that muscular and sculpted shape of the previous Kona, but Hyundai says the sporty wedge-shaped silhouette is further accentuated by the visual connection between the shoulder creases and the sharper, cleaner, more harmonious front end.

At the rear, the new taillights feature horizontally stretched graphics. These are said to reflect the unique identity of the front-end light signature. The new rear bumper, which also follows the protective armour concept of the front and sides, is also built with a contrasting material.

In addition, the latest model comes with an updated 17-inch wheel design for the Kona 2.0 Executive, and different 18-inch wheels for the 1.6 T-GDi Executive and 1.6 T-GDi N Line respectively.

In its dimensions, the new Kona is 40 mm longer than the previous version, giving it a sleeker and more dynamic look to balance out its wide, strong visual stance.

The new Kona comes with six exterior colours: Surfy Blue, Ignite Flame, Cyber Gray, Phantom Black, Atlas White, Dark Knight and Pulse Red.

Every colour can be combined with the Phantom Black two-tone roof for the 1.6 T-GDi Executive and N Line derivatives. The two-tone roof also comes with matching mirror housings. This contributes to the Kona’s sporty appearance and gives customers more options for personalisation.


The interior of the new Kona has been designed to express a more sophisticated and progressive appearance according to Hyundai. An electronic parking brake is now available in the N Line variant as a standard convenience feature. New ambient lighting illuminates the cup holder and foot wells, while an aluminium-like finish adds refinement. The Kona’s rear cargo area has been increased and second row legroom has also been improved, along with USB-port access for second-row passengers.

New rings around the speakers and the air vents with an aluminium finish establish a higher level of quality and refinement. The 2.0 Executive and 1.6 T-GDi variants come standard with artificial leather seat trim, while the 1.6 T-GDi N Line features full leather seats with N Line red piping and stitching trim.


Instead of the rugged skid plate of the new Kona, the N Line features a characteristic aerodynamic lip with low-lying corner fins for a road-hugging appearance. Larger, more technical air intake features are further distinguished by a unique mesh design and surface treatment. On the side, the body colour claddings and new rocker panel are complemented by the dedicated 18-inch alloy wheel design.

The rear end completes the dynamic image of the Kona N Line. The rear bumper incorporates a large central aerodynamic diffusor in a contrast colour to the body, as well as a one-side double muffler. At the rear corners, the bumper fascia is formed with sharply creased lines and N-style fins for better air flow detachment. The Kona N Line has its own, dedicated 18-inch alloy wheel design.

The interior is now available with a dedicated N Line colour package in one-tone black with full leather seats. In addition, the distinctive red piping and stitching on the seats, metal pedals, and N logo on the gear shift and the seats all create a sportier look and feel.


Several new convenience features allow for a more comfortable ride, including a second-row USB port for backseat passengers. The new Kona Executive variants with manual seats has also been improved. Front passengers can also now adjust their seat height for an optimised seating position. As standard, the new Kona has also been upgraded with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, meaning customers do not have to use a cable anymore to connect their phones to the 18cm display infotainment system. A wireless cell phone charging pad in the centre console is also standard across the range. Rear passengers can charge their cell phones from a USB cable port in a centre console, with a place to store the phone.


The new Kona N Line has been equipped with a range of Hyundai’s SmartSense safety and driving assist features for added peace of mind. They include:

Smart Cruise Control – You set the speed and SCC maintains it while keeping you a safe distance away from the vehicle ahead without requiring application of the accelerator or brake pedal.

Blind Spot Collision-avoidance Assist – It uses radar to monitor both of your blind spots. If a vehicle is detected in the blind spot while the turn signal is flashing, BCA will automatically apply left or right side front braking before your attempted lane change thus helping you avert an unsafe lane change and a potential collision.

Lane Keep Assist and Lane Following Assist – keeps you safely in the middle of the lane using its front view camera to monitor lane markers. Upon detecting an unintentional lane departure, a warning is triggered and, if necessary, Lane Keep Assist will automatically provide corrective steering input to keep you in the lane.

Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-avoidance Assist – works to avoid a collision when backing up by applying the brakes if another vehicle is detected.

Forward Collision-avoidance Assist – if there is danger of a collision with a car or a pedestrian, FCA’s front camera gives you an early warning and, if necessary, FCA automatically applies the brakes to prevent the collision.

Safe Exit Assist – block attempts to disengage the child safety lock and prevents the rear door from opening when it is unsafe to do so.

Fatigue Detection/Driver Attention Warning – monitors and analyses driving patterns and will signal an audible alert and visual message on the instrument cluster if it detects driver fatigue or inattention.

All Kona derivatives are also equipped with an Electronic Stability Program and Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Downhill Brake Control and Hill start Assist Control.

Additional safety features in all derivatives include airbags for the driver and front passenger, side and curtain airbags. Five three-point safety belts with pretensioners for the driver and front passengers also makes the Kona a safe choice of transport. The outer rear seats also have ISOFIX attachments points for child seats. The Hyundai Kona has received a full five-star safety rating in the European New Car Assessment Programme.


The powertrain line-up for the new Kona reaches new heights in terms of performance. At the top of the line-up is an enhanced Smartstream G1.6 T-GDi engine, linked to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT), which brings 148kW maximum power and 265Nm maximum torque to the table. This drivetrain is found in the 1.6 T-GDi Executive and 1.6 T-GDi N-Line derivatives.

A Smartstream 2.0 Nu Atkinson naturally aspirated petrol engine, delivering 110kW maximum power and 179Nm peak torque, is used in the Kona 2.0 Executive, where it is linked with an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).

Hyundai’s Smartstream refers to the “Smart” technological objectives of saving fuel, improving performance, and reducing gas emissions, which are then applied to every step of the “Stream” – the stream of air and fuel injected in the engine, and its explosive power delivered to the wheels via the transmission.

Hyundai’s Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) engine technology, a mechanical system which took Hyundai 9 years to develop and made its debut in 2019, is used in the Kona’s engines. It alters the way the valves operate to boost both engine power and efficiency, and to allow flexibility based on the driver's driving style.

“The development of the CVVD technology is a good example how the Hyundai Motor Group is strengthening our powertrain technology,” says Albert Biermann, president and head of the Research and Development Division at the Hyundai Motor Group.

Typical variable valve control technologies manage the timing of the valve’s opening and closing (as in Continuously Variable Valve Timing - CVVT) or control the volume of air admitted by adjusting the depth of the opening (Continuously Variable Valve Lift - CVVL). Previous variable valve control technologies could not regulate valve duration, as the valve’s closing timing was subordinate to opening timing and could not respond to diverse driving situations. CVVD takes the technology in a new direction by adjusting how long a valve is open.

When the vehicle is maintaining a constant speed and requires low engine output, CVVD leaves intake valve open until the middle and closes the valve near the end of the compression stroke. This helps to improve fuel efficiency by reducing the resistance caused by compression. On the other hand, when engine output is high, such as when the car is driving at a high speed, the intake valve is closed at the beginning of the compression stroke to maximise the amount of air used for the explosion, enhancing torque to improve acceleration.

Optimised valve overlap duration for high-acceleration and high-economy driving needs also boosts performance and economy up to 4% and 5% respectively. Combustion efficiency is also improved, decreasing gas emissions by up to 12%.

Furthermore, the effective compression ratio of the cylinder may be adjusted anywhere between 4:1 to 10.5:1, essentially in variable-compression ratios.


The new Kona has been subject to a series of tuning updates for a smoother ride compared to its predecessor. The suspension has been re-tuned to improve driving comfort, without degrading the Kona’s sporty character. Next to springs and dampers, the stabiliser bars were modified for better ride comfort and isolation. The rear bump stop was also modified, bringing benefits for primary ride and lateral body control.

A McPherson strut type suspension is used at the front of the Kona, while a coupled torsion beam action type multilink is employed for the rear wheels’ suspension. Several parts of the vehicle have also been renewed to lower Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels, further increasing the comfort inside the cabin. The steering was fine-tuned to match the new suspension character.


Hyundai Kona 2.0 Nu Executive (auto) - R449 900

Hyundai Kona 1.6 T-GDi Executive DCT - R499 900

Hyundai Kona 1.6 T-GDi N-Line DCT - R579 900

All models come with a seven-year/200 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a five-year/75 000km service plan. Roadside assistance for seven years or 150 000km is also thrown in.


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