Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
Hyundai kept its promise and introduced a mid-life cycle refresh to its Kona crossover in late 2020 for the 2021 model-year and brought more of a sophisticated design than a revamped drivetrain.
The Korean carmaker chose to name its vehicles after various U.S. locations such as Santa Fe, Tucson, or Kona. The latter was inspired by the western district of the Hawaii island. Sure, the Creta was named after an island from the Mediterranean sea, but that was the exception.
Hyundai’s team introduced a few modifications to the car’s look. Its daytime running lights were still mounted on top of the front fascia, like two light strips that pointed toward the grille. Unlike its electric-powered sibling, the version fitted with an internal combustion engine featured a black grille with a 3D mesh-grille. The design team considered that a silver shield would emphasize more the SUV style of the small crossover. They also installed LED headlights, which were a good addition to a 2021 vehicle.
Hyundai installed a completely digital instrument panel in front of the driver and an additional touchscreen display for the infotainment system placed on top of the center stack. On the other hand, the gear selector still looked like it was designed at least two decades before the car’s introduction. The Korean carmaker improved the comfort of the rear seat’s passengers by adding a pair of USB charging ports and raised all occupants’ mood by introducing new ambient lighting.
Under the hood, Hyundai installed a choice of two engines: a turbocharged 1.6-liter for the N-Line version and a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter paired to a CVT. Both of them sent the power to the front wheels.
The Kona is one of Hyundai’s biggest hits on the market, and that made the Korean carmaker try a different approach with an “N” version for it in 2021.
Hyundai was not reluctant to have high-power versions, and, before the internal combustion ban, it tried to get more attention to it with the N versions, which was its performance division that made possible the world rally cars and the race cars for track battles.
The Kona was introduced as a small-segment crossover, aimed directly at those who needed an affordable, city-oriented vehicle. While most of its initial powertrains were mostly oriented towards fuel efficiency, the N was just exactly the opposite: it was the fierce one.
Hyundai didn’t hide the performance-oriented car with the same look shown on the rest of the Kona range. The front fascia featured the same body-colored bumper but with black grilles. Its side scoops sported a hexagonal mesh, unlike the rest of the Kona range that showed regular plastic panels and covers. At the bottom of the apron, the N version received a red stripe, emphasizing the car’s sporty character. On the sides, through the big 19” light-alloy wheels, the red brake calipers warned the bystanders that it was not an ordinary vehicle. That message was repeated in an even more obvious way by the enlarged rear wing mounted on the tailgate.
Inside, the front seats featured a high-bolstered area on the sides and an embroidered N letter on the seatbacks. Even the rear seats received a special treatment and upholstery, with faux leather and Alcantara for the center sections.
Under the hood, the N worked its magic and provided the vehicle with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that provided 280 hp. It paired the turbocharged inline-four mill with an eight-speed automatic transmission (wet dual-clutch gearbox) that sent the power to the front wheels via an Electronically-controlled Limited Slip Differential (e-LSD).
The 2017 Hyundai Kona was introduced in Korea and the North American and the European continents followed later that year.
It completed the SUV lineup in the Korean car-maker stable.
The Hyundai Kona came late to the party in 2017. While most of the other European car-makers already had something to offer with more affordable or more expensive models, the Kona tried to make its own path by offering an outrageous design and a good platform. It was a direct competitor with the Nissan Juke, Seat Arona, Dacia Duster, and Peugeot 2008.
The front of the car featured two light strips on the upper part, as daytime running lights. The actual headlights were mounted in the front bumper. Even if it featured five air-intakes on the bumper, only three of them were used for something. Those from the sides were completely useless.
Inside, the Hyundai designers managed to offer enough room for five passengers and decent trunk size. The dashboard was simple and featured the navigation screen (offered as an option) on top of the center stack. It wasn’t the best place, but it was the most affordable one.
The Kona was available with a choice of two exclusively gasoline engines and a hybrid version. Later on, a full electric version was introduced.