Less than six months after the launch of the Hyundai Kona in Malaysia, Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) has introduced the facelifted version here. Having dragged its feet with the previous model, the company has now gone super aggressive, bringing in the refreshed B-segment crossover so soon after its international debut.
Two variants are available at launch, the base 2.0 priced at RM119,888 on-the-road without insurance and the 2.0 Active at RM136,888. These figures are RM4,000 and RM2,000 cheaper respectively compared to the outgoing models at 2021 prices (the introductory prices for the latter were lower by the tune of RM8,000, but those was only applicable last year).
The company has also announced that the sportier N Line model will be offered later on, likely powered by a 1.6 litre T-GDi engine. Prices for these made-in-Korea models include a 50% reduction in the sales and service tax (SST), a five-year/300,000 km warranty and a three-year/50,000 km free service package.
The sole engine option is the carryover 2.0 litre Nu MPI Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder, rechristened the Smartstream G2.0 MPI but making the same 149 PS at 6,200 rpm and 180 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. The gearbox, however, has been switched from a six-speed automatic to an Intelligent Variable Transmission (iVT), effectively a CVT driven by a chain instead of a belt. Lifted from the Elantra, it has eight virtual speeds and enables the Kona to get from zero to 100 km/h three tenths of a second faster at 9.7 seconds.
This particular facelift is a rather major one, introducing comprehensive exterior and interior changes. The entire front clip has been redesigned and sees greater use of contrasting body cladding (black for the 2.0, grey for the Active), plus the addition of a slimmer grille, a top-mounted Hyundai badge and a U-shaped silver skid plate surrounding the centre air intake. The four-lamp signature has been retained, but the upper daytime running light graphics have been reshaped and give off a sharper look than before.
On the Active, the DRLs also now double as indicators, freeing up space underneath for full-LED headlights in a scale-like design (the base model gets projector halogens). This look has been repeated at the rear of the Active model with its LED lower indicators (bulbs for the 2.0), set against a black background. The upper taillights, which again feature LEDs on the Active, have also been revised for a cleaner wide-set look.
The rear bumper design continues the design theme set by the front end, with increased cladding and a large skid plate. The alloy wheel options have also been revamped – the 2.0 gets surprisingly sporty-looking 17-inch turbine-style rollers, while the Active rides on 18-inch two-tone items with a criss-cross design.
Inside, the Kona receives a restyled centre console with a taller transmission tunnel and a new electronic parking brake to replace the previous handbrake, freeing up space for a storage compartment behind it. Also new are the air vents, which feature aluminium-effect surrounds, redesigned slats and a twist-to-close airflow control knob on the corner outlets.
The interior colour options have also been streamlined, with the Active now getting full black leather upholstery across the new Surfy Blue, Misty Jungle (a blueish grey) and Ignite Flame (red) exterior paints. However, the also-new Dive In Jeju (a paler blue) and carryover Dark Knight (grey) hues come with light beige leather with curious dark red piping.
Meanwhile, the base model features black fabric trim to go with an exterior palette that is largely the same as before, including Chalk White, Pulse Red, Galactic Grey and aforementioned Surfy Blue. It should be noted that the Active is the only one to get a soft-touch dashboard, as before.
As for infotainment, the Kona’s standard-fit freestanding touchscreen is an inch larger than before, measuring eight inches across. No, it’s not the big 10.25-inch unit found in other markets, but it has a mildly revamped interface and, more importantly, now comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The Active goes one further by adding a 10.25-inch digital instrument display, the graphics of which can be customised according to the drive mode selected.
Speaking of drive modes, there’s a new rotary selector that replaces the previous push button. You’ll still find the usual Eco, Normal and Sport modes, but pushing the dial down takes you to an off-road-biased Traction Control Mode with an additional three settings – Snow, Mud and Sand. These make use of the stability and traction control systems to generate maximum grip, and in Sand mode the car will also adjust the transmission ratios to suit the terrain. The car is still front-wheel drive, mind you – no AWD trickery here.
Rounding out the new features are the standard-fit remote engine start function for the keyless entry system, plus a USB port and a centre cubby hole for rear occupants. The base model also comes with automatic headlights, push-button start, manual air-conditioning, manual seat adjustment, cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, reverse sensors, a reverse camera and six speakers.
The Active adds front fog lights, single-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, automatic wipers, a head-up display, front parking sensors and, oddly, heated door mirrors. Safety-wise, all models get six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill start assist, hill descent control and rear ISOFIX child seat anchors.
But it’s the Active that has been given a big boost, receiving the SmartSense driver assistance systems previously only found on the 1.6 Turbo. These include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring (now with steering assistance), rear cross traffic alert (now with braking) and automatic high beam. It also gets four new features – lane centring assist (still no adaptive cruise control, though), front departure alert, a door opening warning and a rear seat reminder.
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