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Hyundai Kona 2021: updated small SUV priced to fight Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR

John Law

Hyundai has heavily updated the Kona’s interior, exterior and engines for 2021 while simplifying the line-up for the Australian market.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona has cemented its funky personality with this latest update, banishing some of the busy design for a more holistic appearance.

Since launching the Hyundai Kona has been a consistent top-three sales performer in the small SUV segment against vehicles like the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR and Volkswagen T-Roc.

Hyundai Kona Highlander 2021
The new 2021 Kona is now available in Australia with a bold new look.

Initially, two combustion engines will be available with the updated Kona Electric due in March and full-fat Kona N due later in 2021. Hyundai Australia has confirmed there will be no hybrid Kona coming to Australia, however.

Hyundai says the two-litre four-cylinder is all-new, though it shares the same 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque with the outgoing Kona.

However, fuel consumption has been cut from 7.2L/100km to 6.2L/100km. This is down to the engine now running on the Atkinson cycle – like a Toyota Prius – which makes the engine more efficient, though shrinks its operational band.

Hyundai Kona Active 2021 Interior
Inside is familiar, but with some added niceties thrown in.

In place of the six-speed auto before there is now a CVT which better interfaces with Atkinson cycle engine to keep the engine in the most efficient rev range.

The revised 2021 Kona range limits engine choice across variants. Like the i30 small car, the entry-level variants are powered by the two-litre engine while the N Line models use a more potent turbocharged lump.

The range starts with the Kona – previously the Go – for $26,600 (before on-road costs), making the Kona one of the more affordable options in its class. 

Hyundai Kona Active 2021 Rear
The new Kona looks familiar from the rear three-quarter.

From the base model, the Kona is outfitted with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an eight-inch touchscreen, cloth-appointed interior and wireless charging pad. AEB with pedestrian detection, lane-trace assist, adaptive cruise with stop & go round out the base model’s safety features.

Above that, the $28,200 Active gains leather-appointed seats, steering wheel and gearknob, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated and power-folding mirrors and the nicety of rear parking sensors.

The Elite then adds a premium Harman Kardon stereo, smart key with push-button start, blacked-out exterior trim, front fog lights, climate control and a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen that has nav as standard, though Apple CarPlay is wired from the Elite up.

Hyundai Kona N line Premium 2021 badge
The engine choices remain the same, but the oily bits are heavily reworked according to Hyundai.

Hyundai only offers what we deem a comprehensive safety suite on the Elite trim level and above. The more expensive Kona grades get a safe-exit assist system, blind-spot collision detection and rear AEB above the other variants.

Sitting as the jewel in the crown of the Kona range the Highlander gets a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, electrically adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated rear bench and steering wheel, LED headlights, a head-up display, front parking sensors, a sunroof and some snazzy 18-inch alloy wheels.

The $38,000 Highlander offers the additional nicety of optional beige leather upholstery.

Hyundai Kona Highlander 2021 BEIGE
Buyers springing for the expensive Highlander will be able to option beige leather.

Hyundai is heavily pushing N Line variants of the Kona which get an updated 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 146kW of power and 265Nm of torque (up by 16kW). Power is sent to all-four wheels via a dual-clutch gearbox.

All N Line models get bespoke chassis settings with more of a focus on road-holding – that means firmer springs and dampers – as well as a more sophisticated independent rear suspension set-up.

Non N Line variants retain the same more comfortable suspension as before and a torsion beam rear suspension design.

Hyundai Kona N line Premium 2021
For 2021 Hyundai has further differentiated the N Line models from the regular Kona.

Priced from $36,300, the base Kona N Line is equivalent in spec to the Elite but with sportier 18-inch alloy wheels and red contrast stitched sports seats inside.

The N Line Premium adopts the Highlander spec with the same changes as the N Line for $42,400 before on-road costs.

Hyundai Kona 2021: pricing in Australia

  • Kona 2.0 CVT – $26,600
  • Kona Active 2.0 CVT – $28,200
  • Kona Elite 2.0 CVT – $31,600
  • Kona N Line 1.6 DCT – $36,300
  • Kona Highlander 2.0 CVT – $38,000
  • Kona N Line Premium 1.6 DCT – $42,400