Published on October 1st, 2020 | by Subhash Nair


Hyundai Kona Driven in Malaysia! More Torque Than the X50

Hyundai Sime Darby Motors have been trying to get the Kona into our market for quite some time. With endless delays and difficulties navigating a rather nebulous National Automotive Policy, they’ve decided to forgo local-assembly for the more straight-forward option of fully-importing the vehicle from South Korea. Yesterday, we got to drive these cars.

Here’s what we can tell you about the soon-to-be-launched Hyundai Kona in Malaysia.

Variants for Malaysia

First of all, these are all pre-facelift models. There will be THREE specification variants all with front-wheel drive only.

The base model and mid-spec model will get a 2.0L naturally aspirated petrol engine and a 6-speed conventional automatic. The range topping vehicle comes with a 1.6L turbocharged petrol engine and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. This latter powertrain is very similiar, if not the same as the one we find on the facelifted Tucson Turbo. The gearbox is a proven unit that has been running with no complaints in Malaysia since its debut on the Ioniq.

The 2-litre motor produces 149 horsepower and 179Nm of torque. It’s an Atkinson cycle engine with Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) technology. 

The 1.6-litre motor produces 177 horsepower and 265Nm of torque. It features direct injection with a single turbo, twin blade design. 

Why pick this over its rivals

Yes, the Kona is arriving late to the game, but in general it does have some advantages over its rivals from Japan. First of all, it’s the only B-segment crossover in its class with a turbocharged engine (until the Proton X50 arrives). Even after the X50 debuts, it will still be the only B-segment crossover to offer both a naturally-aspirated petrol and a turbocharged petrol engine option.

The Kona also has some design distinctions to it. Of course, design is subjective, but we think the car looks fresh and funky despite its late arrival.

It’ll also be available with dual-tone paint finishes (full-spec variant) and it’s also the only car in its class with multiple interior options.

BHP Banner

Here’s a quick breakdown of the colour combinations on the Kona:

2.0L Base

Phantom Black Exterior with Grey Interior trim

Lake Silver Exterior with Grey Interior trim

2.0L Active 

Chalk White Exterior with Lime Green Interior trim

Phantom Black Exterior with Red Interior trim

Pulse Red Exterior with Red Interior trim

Blue Lagoon Exterior with Grey Interior trim

1.6L Turbo

Chalk White Exterior (Dual Tone) with Lime Green Interior trim

Phantom Black Exterior (Dual Tone) with Red Interior trim

Pulse Red Exterior (Dual Tone) with Red Interior trim

Blue Lagoon Exterior (Dual Tone) with Grey Interior trim 

Ceramic Blue Exterior (Dual Tone) with Grey Interior trim


To top it all off, it’s also very well equipped. Both the 2.0L models come with Fabric seats (with some leather accents) while the 1.6L Turbo gets an all-leather interior.

It’s worth noting that the interior colours are found on the seats, air cond vent surrounds, gear selector surround, steering wheel stitching and more. All variants we drove also came with black headliners and interior pillar covers for a more upmarket look, though interior lighting featured halogen bulbs.

Standard specs

All variants of the Hyundai Kona come with a 4.2” colour display on the instrument cluster and a 7” infotainment unit with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. 6 airbags are also standard across the range. Push-to-start and keyless entry, hill-start assist, downhill braking assist, drive model select, a tyre pressure monitoring system and reverse camera are also standard on the Kona. The base and 2.0L model come with a front passenger seatbelt reminder. These two cars are also configured to have their turn signal stalk on the right side.

Mid and top spec

The mid-spec 2.0L and full-spec 1.6L turbo both come with 18” dual tone alloy rims and a configurable Heads-up Display. The front driver seat has power adjustment.

Exclusive to the top spec

The full-spec model adds a Qi Wireless smartphone charger as well as a host of safety and Advanced Driver Assist systems, such as Lane Keeping Assist, High Beam Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Active Cruise Control, Driver Attention Warning and more. This isn’t really an ‘equipment’ piece, but the Turbo model has its turn signal stalk on the left hand side.

How’s it Like in Real Life

We spent a few hours with the car, driving approximately 20 minutes in each variant. 

Both variants had good ride and handling characteristics with minimal body roll, and excellent noise, vibration and harshness characteristics. Noise was only an issue when accelerating hard, otherwise the cars were extremely quiet at very high speeds.

We found both the 2.0L naturally-aspirated engine and 1.6L turbo engine to be good in their own ways. The 2-litre delivered a smoother and more relaxed drive with a more natural pedal feel and adequate power all the way to 150km/h. The engine spins at around 3,000 rpm cruising at the speed limit, but as we mentioned, noise is not an issue. 

The turbo engine has an enormous amount of torque at its disposal. Even more than the standard and flagship X50 models. Like the X50 it also has a 7-speed DCT, which has the advantage of Hyundai’s years of experience and its availability in the local market (both the IONIQ and Tucson Turbo are locally assembled with this gearbox).

Passenger comfort in the front was good with little to complain about. Rear passengers get good headroom, adequate legroom and minimal thigh support. Seats in the rear are not too upright and there’s some support, but it’s not the best place to be. A fold-down armrest with cupholders and a rear quarter window panel are the two luxuries rear passengers have to enjoy. No charging ports and no air vents are present in the back.

Luggage space is about what you’d expect for a B-segment crossover. There’s a boot organiser above the spare tyre that can be removed. When removed, the boot floor can be lowered about 2 inches down to make more room.

We’re still waiting for an official launch date, but Hyundai-Sime Darby Motor are happy for us to share all of these details with you, so they’re probably ready to launch in just a few weeks. 

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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