18 March 2024

Hyundai reckons today's SUVs are all too same-same ... enter Iron Man

| James Coleman
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Hyundai Kona

The 2024 Hyundai Kona N-Line. Photo: James Coleman.

SUVs have become like Tim Tams. To stand out from the original, you must be brash and bold.

Add chilli to the dark chocolate, or lychee to the coconut. Or what about the ‘Tay Tam’ special edition to coincide with the recent Eras Tour? (Presumably it breaks up very easily.)

It’s also why the Hyundai Kona looks like Iron Man.

Throw in the ‘N-Line’ package for good measure, and you also get many red bits, side splitters sharp enough to cut pedestrians off at the ankles, and a stupidly large and unnecessary roof spoiler above the rear window.

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All delicious. Of course, there is also a lot more to the new Kona than a new skin.

The previous model became just as famous for its hybrid and electric spin-offs, and these remain for 2024.

I’m in the ‘Premium’ petrol model, however, and there are two options: a 2-litre front-wheel-drive model, or my 1.6-litre turbo all-wheel-drive.

The latter comes standard with the ‘N-Line’ package (with its stupidly large and unnecessary roof spoiler) so that’s the one you would get, of course.

The exhaust has a pleasing rasp, and there’s certainly oomph to back it up, but it’s a bit of a stroppy drivetrain on the whole.

Demanding power is like prodding your mother in the middle of night to tell her you’ve wet the bed – nothing at first, but then all hell breaks loose. Not even the ‘Sport’ mode really helped – it just made more hell.

Hyundai Kona

All 1.6 litres, combined with a glorious turbocharger. Photo: James Coleman.

I learnt to drive around this idiosyncrasy, and actually ended up having a lot of fun, but there’s the niggling feeling this …

Beep. Oh, the speed limit has changed, in case I wasn’t looking through the windscreen and saw the big sign with the red circle around the black numbers.

I was going to say the Kona N-Line feels a bit confused. If you want ultimate smiles, just go straight up for i30 N. If you want to sip fuel and slink around town, you’re better off in the hybrid or electric Kona.

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Beep, beep, beep, beep. Now what? I’ve dared to exceed the posted speed limit by 2 km/h.

In Premium spec, it’s certainly handsomely equipped. Up front, I have heated and ventilated leather seats, and a heated steering wheel (even the rear-seat passengers score heated seats), and everything is easy to find thanks to the novel invention of buttons.

I love the simple and uncluttered design of Hyundai’s digital screens too. And whenever you indicate, a camera mounted to each wing mirror flashes up an image next to your speedo so you can watch in real-time as you almost swipe that pesky cyclist. Or just try not to kerb those 19-inch wheels.

The new Kona uses space a lot better than its forebear- the boot is particularly cavernous (407 litres) – but this does come with some drawbacks.

For instance, the centre console is almost entirely a hollowed-out plastic trough with added cupholders – the only covered storage option would struggle to hold a packet of mints. And the door cards are thin and scratchy.

Hyundai Kona

Makes it faster. Photo: James Coleman.

Beep. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

Ah, the speed limit has changed again and now I’m speeding again, except I’m not because it’s a school zone and it’s outside the 8:30 am-to-4 pm window. But what do I know?


And now the little camera mounted to the top of the steering column has noticed I’ve been looking away from the road for half a second too long.

Look, I thought the Kona N-Line a very pleasant Tim Tam experiment – but it also should be, at $46,500 before on-road costs.

Hyundai Kona

The base Kona models start from $32,000. Photo: James Coleman.

There’s just one thing.

Did you find the constant beeping throughout this review annoying? Well, that’s but a foretaste of what I had to put up with, at least until I dived into the screen and turned it all off. And then turned it all off again every time I got into the car.

Hyundai. Flash up messages on my screen, phone my emergency contact, call in an ICBM to take me off the road – whatever – but please. Just. Stop. It. With. The. Beeping.

Hyundai Kona

Smubb? Photo: James Coleman.

2024 Hyundai Kona N-Line Premium

  • $46,500 (plus driveaway costs)
  • 1.6-litre turbo petrol, 146 kW / 265 Nm
  • 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive (AWD)
  • 7.6 litres per 100 km estimated fuel consumption
  • 1585 kg
  • Not yet rated for safety

This car was provided for testing by Hyundai Australia. Region has no commercial arrangement with Hyundai Australia.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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