It's the most powerful B-segment SUV in Malaysia, it's the best-looking B-segment SUV in Malaysia, it's the most engaging B-segment SUV in Malaysia - what else is there, but is it all positive?
Now to answer the question above in short - no, the Hyundai Kona Kona 1.6T N Line is not all positive but we'll get to the details in a bit.
We'll kick-off this review with the top-line specs first:
Once you're buckled in safe and secure in the Kona N Line, you'll immediately get to appreciate how comfortable, snug but not tight, and serene the cabin is. The driver and passenger leather and suede seats upfront come with ventilation - a very premium addition to have especially in Malaysian weather. The electronic lumbar adjustment also means that you are properly situated for city driving or highway cruising. Unlike the X50 that suffers from a very short seat overhang meaning your thighs are unsupported, the adjustability of the seats in the Kona does away with that problem.
The 10.25-inch digital cluster is crisp and clear even under the harshest sunlight providing the driver with all the required information on one screen. Coming to terms with the infotainment unit was also seamless with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay coming as standard.
Now some of you might argue an all-black interior is somber and unexciting but I beg to differ. In the Kona N Line, it is classy especially peppered with the red stitching details synonymous with Kona's N range. Most importantly, it's not fussy and doesn't feel like a spaceship when you step into the car. It's an easy car to come to grips with and that is a win for me.
Here's a quick question for you to ponder, how many vehicles in Malaysia with about 200 HP can you buy for under RM200k brand new?
While you think about that, the drive is where the Hyundai Kona N Line displays to you why it is worth its asking price. The steering is direct, the car is planted and before you can count to eight, you're already past 100km/h. The Hyundai Kona N Line does the 0-100 in 7.7 seconds. For an SUV, it doesn't only feel quick, it is proper fast.
I did find the ride firm but not too firm that it became uncomfortable. With 256 Nm of torque available from 1,600 RPM there was plenty of grunt if you wanted a traffic-light drag race. Even at highway cruising speeds, overtaking was rarely a problem given its punchy mid-range.
Best of all is the NVH in the cabin. Even at 120km/h, you could have a conversation with all occupants of the car, front and rear without having to raise your voice. I'd wager it's best in class.
The 7DCT however does get a little uncertain on inclines and declines, I noticed this especially on the Karak and also just general city driving. There's a slight hesitancy on the part of the gearbox as if it's uncertain of what it should be doing. On the straights, however, it works like a charm.
Be prepared for stares. Be prepared for people congregating around your Kona N Line. Be prepared for inquisitive questions. I had all of the above during my time with the Kona N Line.
To me, it is the best-looking Kona variant currently available in Malaysia and I'm including the Kona Electric here as well.
That exclusive front-end fascia is fierce yet sultry. It does away with the black cladding, opting instead to stick with a more uniformly nicer body-colored exterior. The aerodynamic lip with corner fins and diffuser on the rear complete this very attractive packaging. Coupled with 18-inch dedicated N Line alloy rims, this is the B-segment SUV for those who want to stand out!
Pro tip: Get it in the Dive in Jeju colour.
How many HR-Vs, Ativas, or X50s do you see on the road? How many Hyundai Kona 1.6T N Line's have you seen?
You have the entire suite of Hyundai's SmartSense ADAS features to keep you safe whilst in the Kona. I did find the lane keep assist a bit too intrusive for daily city driving especially when trying to avoid potholes or our abang food delivery riders. Worth noting that all the ADAS features on the Kona N Line are active or turned on by default which means that you will need to turn them off each time you start the car. It's not overly cumbersome once you get used to it. It should take you no more than 20 seconds which is just nice for your Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to start piping out music too.
Should you forget to, however, it can be quite tiresome especially when the steering wheel starts to tug away at your 'bad driving etiquette'.
No, it isn't. If you have a young or growing family then the rear cargo space is probably of some importance. The 374 litres on the Kona N Line while not the smallest in its segment is however not the most practical in real-life applications. Due to its sloping roofline, the usable space is somewhat compromised. You'll have no issues with your weekly groceries but family holidays might require some IKEA-style packing ingenuity.
At its price point, it would be nice if the back came with rear air vents. Space for passengers at the back for four moderately-sized Malaysians should be no problem but five is cramped though that is hardly surprising. If you're 1.8 metres and above, you will find the rear legroom insufficient, especially for longer journeys.
While we have to bear in mind that the Kona is a CBU, its price point will ultimately hold it back. It is hard to justify paying even RM146,888 (Kona 1.6 Turbo) especially given its very worthy competitors like the Proton X50 and Honda HR-V.
If you're in the market for a B-segment SUV then the Hyundai Kona Kona 1.6T N Line is one to consider especially if you're looking for an engaged drive in a good-looking SUV. If you're graduating from a car, the Kona N Line will pose no challenge to you. It drives very much like a hatchback, albeit one with better ingress and egress points.
And then for the days when you're feeling a little spirited, put in in Sport mode (the Kona comes with three drive modes; Sport, Eco and Normal with paddle shifters), watch the digital cluster turn red, grip the steering wheel and you're off, most likely grinning from ear to ear as the turbo kicks-in!
They say "if you don't look back at your car after you park it, you bought the wrong car". With the Kona N Line, you won't have that problem!