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September 2, 2020

Here's the 2021 Hyundai Kona and We Like What We See

After a short tease, Hyundai has finally shown the 2021 Kona sub-compact SUV in full, and we certainly like what we see.

For 2021, Hyundai has given the attention-grabbing Kona a sleeker look with its stretched hood terminating to a larger and wider grille. The effect is further enhanced by thinner LED DRLs. The main bumper is now made to connect to the wheel arch cladding. Meanwhile, the lower bumper now houses a skid plate as well as vertical aero inlets to improve airflow. At the back, the revised bumper follows the front with its protective “armor concept” as well as new taillight graphics. Overall, the Kona adds 40 mm in length. A sporty new N Line variant color coordinates all the cladding (see lead photo).

Inside, the 2021 Kona features a new console area that is disconnected from the instrument panel with an electric parking brake replacing the current model’s mechanical setup. Other enhancements include height adjustment for the front passengers, ambient interior lighting, new aluminum finish rings around the speakers and air vents, and upgraded materials. Also making its debut on Hyundai’s sub-compact SUV is a 10.25-inch digital cluster along with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the middle.

In terms of powertrain, the Kona is now available with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine delivering 198 horsepower. Mated to a 7-speed dual clutch, it’s available in both two- and all-wheel drive variations (the latter is the only available powertrain option for the Kona N Line). For those who want something much more economical, a mild-hybrid setup is standard on the diesel, and optional on the gasoline. The 1.6-liter Smartstream diesel makes 136 horsepower mated to either a manual or dual clutch automatic, while the 1.0-liter Smartstream gasoline makes 120 horsepower. A 2.0-liter version is also in the works.

The Kona also debuts Hyundai’s clutch-less manual called iMT. Also seen in the Venue, the clutch operates purely electronically instead of using a mechanical linkage.

For 2021, Hyundai has also re-tuned the suspension for a smoother ride. Aside from retuned springs and dampers, the stabilizer bars and rear bump stop have been modified. The steering too is fine-tuned to match the new suspension as well promising a more connected feel across the speed range.

The refreshed Kona will arrive at Hyundai showrooms in Korea by October, while the new Kona Hybrid will follow beginning of 2021.


  1. I like the idea of a clutchless manual. The only reason many people( I'm one) go for the automatic is because of the clutch, operating it during heavy traffic can be torture.
    The questions are how well it works in real driving, it's reliability and durability. Have the author driven one? Any comments?

    1. Tech isn't available yet on any local Hyundai/Kia. But I'd be willing to try it. If it's going to be better than the horrid SMG then I might be sold on it.


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