You’ll be forgiven for forgetting that the Hyundai Kona plies its trade in the B-segment SUV arena. Not that the Korean is substantially lacking in any department but the competition just aces them all and wears a rather more identifiable brand on its grille.
However, seeing that the all-dominant Honda HR-V is a little long in the tooth and the new Toyota Corolla Cross is sold out until CKD operations commence later in the year, the Kona’s refresh is perfectly timed to remind buyers that it’s here and is shouldn’t be discarded with equipment that can hold its own against the aforementioned two.
You’ll still only get two variants of the Kona; the entry-level Standard and the better packed Active. Pricing places the Kona firmly in the Corolla Cross range but lacks a little against the HR-V.
Kona Standard – RM119,888
Kona Active – RM136,888
However, seeing that the segment-leading HR-V now lacks active safety in its portfolio, the Kona could be well-placed to capitalise on the lack of availability for the Corolla Cross.
Design-wise, the Kona’s distinct front end is sleeker with a large grille, slimmer headlights and other minor touches that tightens up everything. The overall length has grown by 40mm while the rear gets minor tweaks as well.
If you need help differentiating the Standard and Active, the wheels will be the easiest tell. The rollers are 17-inch items in the lower trim and larger 18-inch pieces for the Active. The headlights are another way of doing so as the Standard gets halogen items and the Active shines ahead with LED units.
Gone is the turbocharger under the hood. There’s a sole powertrain option for both that comprises a 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol mill from the marque’s Smartstream family of engines.
Power is a healthy 147hp and 180Nm of torque. Also gone the way of the dodo bird is the previous six-speed auto. In its place is what Hyundai calls a Smartstream IVT (intelligent variable transmission). We can better understand it as a CVT that’s been programmed to mimic the shift pattern of a traditional automatic.
Now you may have noticed the Traction modes. No, the Kona isn’t all-wheel drive. Power goes to the front wheels. The Traction mode does alternate response based on the Snow, Mud or Sand settings. Hyundai admits it’s silly to have in Malaysia but seeing the CBU status of it, this is how the Kona arrives when ordered from the mothership.
As for the cabin, it lacks the quirky feel of the exterior and looks rather dated; even with the improvements Hyundai has made. You’ll notice the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster though that’s an Active exclusive.
However, the 8.0-inch infotainment screen is standard and supports Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay.
Also exclusive to the Active would a suite of active safety tech that comprises:
- Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – updated with pedestrian and vehicle detection
- Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA)
- Rear Cross Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
- Safe Exit Warning (SEW)
- Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
- Lane Following Assist (LFA)
- Driver Attention Warning (DAW)
- Leading Vehicle Departure Alert
- Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
- High Beam Assist (HBA)
Standard safety kit includes six airbags, hill-start assist and the usual electronic nannies.
As for colour options, the Standard comes with a black fabric interior and a Chalk White, Galactic Grey, Surfy Blue or Pulse Red exterior. The Active can be had with a white or black leather interior and five exterior shades; Surfy Blue, Ignite Flame, Dark Knight, Misty Jungle or Dive In Jeju (this is the blue pictured here).