Updated sub-compact SUV gets even sharper looks and hotter N Line performance version.
The Hyundai Kona is hardly an old model, debuting back in 2018. Nonetheless, Hyundai confirmed a mid-cycle refresh is coming with the release of a trio of teaser images late Tuesday night. The facelift will bring the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year in line with the Korean brand’s latest “Sensuous Sportiness” design language—and introduce the long-rumored N Line model into the mix.
As is teaser tradition, these images don’t tell us a whole lot about the finished product. What we know for sure is that the Kona will keep its distinctively squinty visage. The main headlight units are little changed from the current items, though they do house new DRL designs. A redesigned front bumper features a more rounded, four-sided main intake instead of the existing diamond shape, and ditches the mail-slot opening above; Hyundai is calling it a “shark-inspired nose.” The company also says the front bumper and skid plate “add to its armored appearance.”
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More exciting is the confirmation of an N Line model joining the lineup. Hyundai included a single tease of this one, with the bright red Kona getting a unique front bumper treatment. It also keeps an opening above the grille, or rather three, looking like a pissed-off rally car in the making.
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While spy photographers have caught what appears to be an even hotter Kona N at the Nürburgring recently, we expect the N Line to be a milder offering. It’s likely to stick to the current 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, though producing similar figures as the recently unveiled, 201-horsepower Elantra N Line. Currently the Kona tops out at 175 ponies. The dual-clutch transmission is also likely to be the N Line gearbox of choice. Hyundai might throw the market a curveball with a manual-transmission sporty crossover, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
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Hyundai’s brief press release mentions the N Line being an “attractive entry point” to the N brand. Whether this means it will undercut the afore-mentioned Elantra when it touches down will have to be seen. It’s also unclear how much of this update will impact the Kona Electric. We’ll know soon enough, as Hyundai promises more details over the coming weeks.