Published on September 8th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Hyundai Kona 2021 Model First Drive Impression
Has The Hyundai Kona Got Enough Brand Image To Challenge The European Rivals?
So, why are we being bold to compare this latest Hyundai Kona with European Crossovers and not Japanese Crossovers?
Well, this Kona has been the winner of the 2018 iF Design Award, the 2018 Red Dot Award, the 2018 IDEA design award, and more, (all European awards) plus the Hyundai Kona design has been consistently praised by European customers and European reviewers.
So, if it is good enough for European buyers, then let’s look at it side by side with the likes of the Citroen C3 Aircross, Peugeot 2008 and the Renault Captur. Malaysia has yet to receive the latest Captur and 2008 and only the C3 Aircross is sold here for RM115,888.
Kona Design Language
Launched in April 2021 in Malaysia, this Kona has a striking new front end design that stands out through its sporty look and eye-catching, protective cladding panels. At the top, the stretched bonnet ends sharply over the center grille with a wide, distinctive shape giving the Kona a powerful look. Enhanced LED DRLs provide a narrow, piercing look to the road ahead. Lower down, the main bumper fascia connects smoothly to the wheel arch claddings, forming a unique and robust armour in a contrasting material to the main body.
On the lower bumper, the robust skid plate appears to embrace the lower air intake, and visually complements the surfaces surrounding the main grille. Integrated into the bumper corners are vertically-oriented aerodynamic inlets that improve air flow.
The side body retains the muscular and sculpted shape of the previous Kona, but 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 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.
Kona Cabin Look
The interior of this 2021 Hyundai Kona was designed to express a more sophisticated and progressive look than its predecessor. Open the doors and you get a typical Hyundai interior. A mix of high quality materials in a rather simplistic offering. The ergonomics are good where everything is where you would expect, and there are cup and bottle holders that work. There is enough headroom, plenty of legroom, and even when riding in the rear seats leg room for a 6-foot passenger is decent.
The cockpit features a significant technology improvement, giving the interior a new level of perceived quality. There s a new electronic parking brake, some new trim and a larger 10.25-inch infotainment system which have the necessary connection protocols, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.
New ambient light technology illuminates the center cup holder as well as in the passenger and driver side foot lamps, emphasizing the lifestyle character of the vehicle.
Kona Safety & Driving Assistance
This Hyundai Kona has been equipped with a range of safety and driving assist features for added peace of mind.
Smart Cruise Control (SCC) has been upgraded to include the stop and go function. Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), available in combination with the DCT, has been enhanced too, engaging the vehicle’s differential brakes to prevent a collision if another vehicle is detected near the rear corner (blind spot) and the driver attempts to change lanes.
One feature new to this model is Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA), which alerts the driver if they do not react fast enough when the vehicle ahead of them starts moving.
Another is Lane Following Assist (LFA), which automatically adjusts steering to assist the driver to keep in the centre of the lane.
Another upgraded feature is Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian and new, optional cyclist detection. The optional FCA uses a sensor in addition to a camera to better detect potential collisions. This increases the detection range and the types of targets, which can be detected, and ensures the system works even in bad weather conditions. If the system senses a potential collision and the driver fails to react in time, it automatically applies the brakes.
As another enhancement, FCA now comes as standard (camera based), including pedestrian detection.
Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), also a first for this new Kona with the DCT, works to avoid a collision when backing up by applying the brakes if another vehicle is detected. This is an upgrade from the previously-available Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, which only provided a warning.
Another unique feature to the new Kona is Rear Seat Alert (RSA), which alerts the driver if someone or something is in the back seat when they go to exit the vehicle. Another safety feature primarily intended for the protection of children, Safe Exit Warning (SEW) is intended to prevent passengers from exiting the vehicle if it is not yet safe to do so.
Kona Driving Impression
From the start we noticed how this Crossover was getting curbside attention from a lot of other drivers. The looks and the new ‘Surfy Blue’ colour was attention grabbing.
Take away the Hyundai badges and it would be mistaken for a European brand. Better still, have the Genesis branding on it and Malaysians might be more inclined to buy this Kona over a Malaysian re-badged Crossover costing a smidgen less.
From ignition it is a quiet and well groomed engine. Power delivery is smooth and the IVT gearbox works with buttery smoothness. As a family orientated Crossover, we were expecting soft-suspension, light steering and vague acceleration, but what we found was a nicely balanced vehicle that drove more like a fun filled hatchback. This Kona rides firmly on the road and has only low levels of body roll when cornering hard on uneven payment, which results in a satisfying experience when driven with determination.
Hyundai designers have crafted a handsome-looking Crossover in the form of this Kona, with solid proportions and smooth styling and it is the ‘image’ that will initially motivate people to take a closer look, it is a mission accomplished for Hyundai.
After test driving this Kona, we are eager to test drive the Kona N Line which is its performance model.
This new fully imported Kona comes with a 5-year or 300,000km warranty with 3 years /50,000km free maintenance service. It can be bought online here.
Hyundai Kona 2.0i Smartstream Atkinson Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder Smartstream
Power: 149bhp @ 6,200rpm
Torque: 180Nm @ 4,300rpm
Transmission: Smartstream IVT Auto