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[Behind the Wheel] Hyundai Motor’s new Kona returns with race-inspired N-Line

Kona N-Line has more aggressive looks, horsepower boost, sporting character

Hyundai Motor’s new Kona N-Line (Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor’s new Kona N-Line (Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor’s latest Kona model was launched in South Korea as the automaker’s first race-inspired sport utility vehicle.

Since the compact SUV Kona was first launched in 2017, other models, such as the Kona Electric and Kona Hybrid, were released in 2017 and 2018, respectively. This year, Hyundai added another derivative, the N-Line.

Last month, the Korea Herald had an opportunity to test-drive the newest Kona for about two hours in Gyeonggi Province.

The Kona N-Line looks more aggressive and sporty at first glance. The size of the car has increased by 10 millimeters, to 4,215 millimeters, from the conventional Kona. The front seat was comfy but the back seat seemed like it would prove to be difficult to sit in for a long time due to a lack of legroom.

The new Kona provides a more powerful engine, boasting a maximum output of 198 horsepower, 20 horsepower more than the previous model. It has a maximum torque of 27 kilogram-meters.

With high-performance brakes and suspensions applied, it felt stronger, like a sports car, but was still agile like a sedan. There was also a sense of stability when cornering and changing lanes. The steering wheel responded nimbly. For a small SUV, it did not feel slow at high speeds. With a slight push on the accelerator pedal, it reached up to 100 kilometers per hour in an instant.

The highway driving assist function reduced fatigue when driving long distances. The smart cruise control buttons on the wheel showed a quite high level of semi-autonomous driving in the middle of the highway. At the set speed, it automatically braked when the gap with the car in front narrowed, and accelerated when the gap widened. It turned the steering wheel on its own, keeping the lane even in the curve although the response seemed not very fast as in other cars having semi-autonomous driving functions.

The 10.25-inch digital cluster and display were sufficient to intuitively convey various information. It also has convenient features such as a head-up display and a wireless charger for smartphones.

The price for the Modern trim is 24.6 million won ($22,056) and 28.1 million won for the Inspiration. The full option model costs 32.08 million won. 

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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