It Looks Like It Can Go Fast But It Doesn’t Like To
by Sean McElroy
I truly believe that it’s really hard to find a bad new car in the U.S. But even with that in mind, there are models I don’t like and would never consider buying. The Hyundai Kona N-Line is one of those vehicles. Even so, the first thing I thought when looking at the crossover is, this is a good-looking vehicle. The N-Line comes with its own special styling on the front and rear that is different from the other Kona trim lines and is meant to emphasize its sporty appearance. It also has really sharp-looking 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust tips and sporty-looking seats. I even like how the front and rear lighting is incorporated into the bodywork.
But my issues with this model started the moment I stepped inside. Like many automakers and many other models, Hyundai pushed the dashboard of the new Kona really far forward, which is meant to clear up leg room and make the interior look bigger. And kudos to Hyundai because that’s what it achieved, but the only problem is, it forgot to leave enough adjustment in the driver controls to make it comfortable for tall people. I’m 6’4″ which means I always move the seat pretty far back but in the new Kona the steering wheel didn’t extend far enough for me to get into a comfortable seating position. And even if it did extend far enough, I think it would look quite comical, like a giraffe neck sticking out from the dash. I ended up moving the seat further forward than I would have liked.
The interior otherwise is what I’ve come to expect from Hyundai; good looks and a lot of content for the price. Highlights include a large digital display screen, plenty of places to plug in and a wireless charging mat for your phone. As part of Hyundai’s efforts to clear up leg room, it moved the shifter from the center console to the steering column. It looks a little bit odd at first, but it’s actually quite intuitive. (Here’s a YouTube Short video I posted about it)
The Hyundai Kona N-Line comes with a 1.6L direct injected and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the same setup as the Limited trim line. The engine makes 190 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough get-up-and-go for everyday driving, but not enough to match its sporty looks. Whenever I get in a vehicle that looks sporty I like to push it to see how it responds. And the Kona N-Line did not like spirited driving. It reacts like a FWD crossover that’s not tuned for this, struggling to hold its line in a corner and too bouncy to keep the tires in good contact with the road. And while the seats look sporty, they also struggled to hold me in place.
Even saying all this, I don’t think the Hyundai Kona N-Line is a bad vehicle. Most people don’t drive fast and just want a lot of content at a good price and in a good looking package. This has that. But it doesn’t fit my tastes or my body type.