Kona N Line Reflects EV Base

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CHATHAM, Mass. – Hyundai’s designers began their work on the new 2024 Kona range by envisioning it as a fully electric small sport-utility vehicle (SUV) and then adapted it to an internal-combustion-engine variant; a reverse of what had been the auto industry’s norm.

The result, as evidenced by the Kona N Line AWD I recently sampled, is a very modern, aerodynamic (.27 coefficient of drag) five-door which helps the new SUV achieve excellent fuel economy while providing a roomy interior.

All-wheel-drive powertrain

The test Kona N Line came with the more powerful of two ICE offered in the 2024 Kona lineup, a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine generating an estimated 190 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque. (The Kona is also offered in as an electric vehicle – EV.)

Peak torque delivery starts at only 1,700 rpm and holds through 4,500 rpm, for low-RPM responsiveness during daily driving conditions.

Power flows through an eight-speed automatic transmission and, in the case of the test vehicle, into Hyundai’s computer-controlled HTRAC all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

Performance is surprisingly peppy, a plus while negotiating merging onto I-84 in downtown Hartford and then having to scoot across three lanes for the proper route out of the area. According to Car and Driver, the Kona N Line’s turbo propelled the pint-size SUV from 0-60 miles per hour in a quick 7.5 seconds.

The overall performance does not come at the expense of excellent fuel economy. Despite my less than efficient driving style while blasting around suburban Connecticut during a two-day visit and then navigating the crowded venues of Cape Cod, I averaged 30.6 miles per gallon during my week behind the wheel. This figure bettered the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s overall rating of 26 mpg (24 urban, 29 highway). This week’s total did include an unusual amount of highway driving (360 miles), which might have helped the overall consumption number.

Solid, responsive platform, nice complement of ADAS

Hyundai said the Kona’s chassis “was developed with a focus on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance for a variety of urban and multi-surface driving conditions. The long wheelbase, short overhangs and wide track create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility in urban environments with enhanced linear stability and ride comfort.”

The AWD version features MacPherson-type strut front suspension with coil springs and a hollow stabilizer bar design and a multi-link rear suspension with stabilizer bar.

The electronic-brake distribution (EBD) and four-channel anti-lock (ABS) equipped power-assisted brake system includes vented 12-inch rotors up front and solid 11.2-inch ones in the rear.

Unique-to-the-N-Line 19-inch wheels sport 235/45/R19 all-season tires.

These all worked as prescribed – providing a comfortable ride and sure handling when I pushed the Kona N Line a bit on the curving sections of roads on the Outer Cape. This is not a sports car, but it is no slouch when it comes to day-to-day driving challenges.

The Korean manufacturer equipped the Kona N Line with a lengthy list of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) under the Hyundai SmartSense umbrella. These features include blind-spot collision avoidance warning; rear cross-traffic assist; forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian/cyclist/JT/DO detection; lane-keeping assist; lane-following assist; intelligent speed-limit assist; Highway Driving Assist; high-beam assist, and navigation smart cruise-control assist.

I put the cruise control to the test during my long trips to/from the Hartford area. Once the system was set and activated, the Kona dutifully followed the curves of my lane, maintaining the set speed (generally 70 miles per hour) and even slowed on a couple of instances when traffic cruised into my lane.

It operated seamlessly and simply; I was impressed (just a push of a button on the steering wheel and movement of a toggle, also on the steering wheel, was all it took!).

Red striping sets off the N Line interior

Though much more modern and pleasing to look at than previous Kona models, the new version retains the large, tall interior associated with the name. Spending extended time within the Kona N Line was never claustrophobic as can be the case in a subcompact SUV.

Cabin comfort is enhanced by the automatic dual-zone climate-control system and heated front seats (power adjustable for the driver, including lumbar support).

The most striking change within the new Kona from past versions is inclusion of the Hyundai-family display which runs from just inside the driver’s door to the center of the dash. The curved unit includes two screens: the first, the customizable cluster facing the driver (behind the steering wheel); the second, a 12.3-inch touchscreen in the center, providing information and control of the Kona’s various systems including the navigation-equipped infotainment system.

Sound from the infotainment-system’s sources, which include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as SiriusXM satellite radio, is pumped through an eight-speaker Bose® premium audio system with separate amplifier.

Multiple USB-C outlets front and rear as well as a wireless charging pad on the wide, roomy center console which gets its extra space thanks to the column-mounted (not console-mounted) transmission selector “borrowed” from the Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV.

In addition to a high level of standard equipment (like the navigation system and 190hp engine), the Kona N Line features bodycolor cladding, 19-inch N Line alloy wheels, N Line rear spoiler, dual-outlet exhaust tips, sport seating with red accents, aluminum sport pedals, N Line scuff plates, and black mirrors. In addition, aggressive, wing-shaped front and rear fascia designs emphasize a lower stance for an even sportier appearance.

Living with the Kona N Line

The Kona N Line was a comfortable conveyance on my trip to and from Connecticut as well as being a perfect size for maneuvering around Cape Cod’s byways, tight parking lots and crowded village streets.

The new Kona ICE range comes in four variants from the front-wheel-drive SE at $24,250 to the fully equipped FWD Limited at $31,800.

The Kona N Line AWD ($1,500 in any of the versions) has a $32,150 list price. The tester had the optional ($210) carpeted floor mats and a $1,335 inland freight and handling fee, bringing the total price to $33,695.

The Kona N Line brings solid value for an internal-combustion-engined subcompact SUV in an EV inspired body.

Next week TBR Drives the Ford Bronco Sport

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.