2022 brings us not just an updated Hyundai Kona (including a fuel-efficient electric version), we are also treated to the arrival of the Kona-N here in Australia.
If you thought an SUV you could take to a track day was an impossibility, the Kona-N is here to prove you wrong! Here we take a look at the benefits each Kona option can bring, as well as consider whether there are other SUVs that may be a better choice.
The arrival of the sporty Kona-N is possibly the largest advance for this SUV. In addition, the Kona has undergone some radical exterior restyling as well as the installation of some bigger, better tech (the 10.25" infotainment and instrument panels in the Kona Elite and above, for example).
Exterior and interior
All variants of the Kona have undergone some noticeable exterior styling changes. Additions include a new front grille and bumper. As you move through the range, other additions include larger alloys and LED lights. Drivers opting for the Kona-N enjoy exclusive alloys, a Kona-N mesh grille, a rear diffuser and single twin exhaust tips. The result is very distinctive, but views are polarised on whether this is a good thing.
Inside, there have been some little tweaks such as the larger infotainment screens and a wireless charging port for your SMART phone.
The Kona-N gives you sporty pedals and some attractive leather accents. In general, the interior remains true to the 2021 design - well laid out, reasonably spacious and with the features you would expect in a medium-range SUV (including climate control, adjustable seating and electric windows).
With a driver's seat that commands a good view of the road, as well as plenty of customisable features, front-row occupants enjoy an excellent cabin experience. Unfortunately, second-row passengers have more of an economy class journey. The lack of rear air vents is particularly unfortunate.
Boot space is adequate at 361L, but definitely not excessive.
The Kona, Kona Active, Kona Elite and Kona Highlander are all powered by a naturally aspirated, 2.0l petrol engine alongside a CVT gearbox with the option of an IVT with manual mode.
The 2.0l delivers 110kW and 180Nm of torque. If you opt for a Kona-N, you'll benefit from a 1.6l turbo-charged petrol engine, alongside an eight-speed, twin-clutch, automatic gearbox. This will get you 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque.
Reviewers are enthusiastic about the 2022 standard Kona drive and handling but absolutely rave about the Kona-N's performance. Given that the Kona-N engine is identical to that found in the i30N hot hatch, you'd expect something pretty speedy. Hyundai has worked wonders on the suspension of the sporty Kona-N. The result is a powerful, nippy SUV that handles like a dream.
Fuel efficiency for the Kona is around 6.2l/100km and 6.9l/100km for the Kona-N.
The electric version of the Kona has a range of around 415km. With fuel consumption of around 2.0l/100km, it's an attractive proposition for environmentally conscious drivers that want to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on their driving experience.
The level of tech improves as you move through the range. The Elite and Highlander benefit from the 10.25" infotainment screen that has wired Apple and Android compatibility.
The instrument display is projected onto the windscreen, enabling drivers to check their vital statistics without taking their eyes off the road. A smart key remote is offered in the higher specs, as well as a Harman Kardon audio system.
All specs come with the Hyundai Smart Sense suite of safety features, although some features are confined to the Kona-N, the Elite and the Highlander. Blindspot collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic avoidance, for example, are features only found in the higher specs. All models have a standard, but adequate, set of passive safety features.
The Kona is ANCAP 5-star rated, but, to date, the Kona-N hasn't got an ANCAP rating.
Autonomous features include lane keep assist, rear occupant alert, smart cruise control and driver attention warning.
As you would expect with so much diversity in the range, the Kona has a large price range. A base spec Kona starts from around $26,600. A Kona-N Premium is about $50,500. At the top of the price range, the electric Highlander TTR EXT range is $66,000.
See 7 Of The Best SUV's Under $40k In Australia
- Something for everyone.
- Kona-N offers an exceptional driving experience.
- Good selection of tech.
- Mediocre experience for second-row passengers. The lack of air vents is disappointing.
- Additional features all come with a price premium.
- May not fit the traditional SUV remit well.
There is enormous diversity within the Hyundai Kona range, which is arguably its downfall rather than a benefit. SUV owners typically want a fuel-efficient workhorse that will convey them (and the family) in comfort.
Space, storage, a comfortable ride, fuel efficiency and, for some drivers, off-road capability, are all key needs. None of these is prioritised in the 2022 Kona. Undoubtedly it has some strong points (the Kona-N driving performance, for example), but it's debatable whether these will tick the boxes of most SUV owners.
Other options to consider
If comfort and understated good looks are priorities, the Mazda CX-30 is worth a look. Well-appointed and spacious, it's designed to provide a quiet, comfortable driving experience.
Second-row passengers benefit from plenty of legroom, as well as a plush armrest and, thankfully, rear air vents. Although not as techy as some others in the small SUV class, its dependability, excellent driving experience and meticulous attention to interior details result in an attractive option.
For many SUV drivers, space matters. The HR-V leads the way in this respect, particularly when it comes to boot space. Its trademarked "magic seats" can be folded down to provide 1462l of boot space - which is significant! Even with the second-row in use, boot space is an impressive 437l.
There's already a long waiting list for the 2022 Seltos, but sometimes the best things are worth waiting for! Benefiting from advanced tech and superior handling, the Seltos also boasts an impressive set of features in the base spec, offering excellent value.