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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Hyundai Kona N Line review: A blunted edge

A usable compact crossover with a divisive edge you won't find elsewhere

2024 Hyundai Kona N Line review

It's never particularly fast, but what the Kona N Line does do is attract a surprising number of eyeballs. It's not often that a seemingly normal transportation box costing under $35,000 can capture pupils, but this is an everyday example of normality that does make competitors all look just a bit boring. The red paint sure does help instill some attitude, but the edgy nature of the design does a legitimate job of helping this refreshed Kona stand out among the mundane. Despite the driving nature itself being a little too unrefined and lacking a sporting edge, this is a form of transport that at least has some fun visually.

Compared to the last iteration of the Kona, this new model has swelled in size and now has a completely usable set of rear seats. It's still compact, but not the tiny city car the prior version clearly was. What also has grown is the range of choices available, from the Electric to this N Line (a full-blown 'real' N is not yet available) that makes up the spunky end of the range. The old Kona wasn't exactly lacking in extraterrestrial, or, interesting styling, but this 2024 doubles down in added angst that makes it even more noticeable; nobody is going to mistake this for a Toyota nor Honda. It's a classic example of love-it-or-hate-it looks, a trait that's become increasingly common among Hyundais as they attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition. It's edgy for sure, whether that's a good thing or not is up to the consumer, but I for one admire the risk that so bluntly subverts focus group studies.

2024 Hyundai Kona N Line interior

Inside are welcome upgrades in terms of overall interior refinement, but there are still plenty of hard plastics aplenty inside to keep things grounded and remind you this is an affordable car. A Mazda CX-30 or Honda HR-V are both crafted to a higher standard, but it's still a serviceable environment at least. The N Line does get some pretty terrific front seats that are both comfortable and supportive, even if the red accents are a bit boy-racer, while the perforated leather steering wheel does feel wonderful in-hand. It's not quite a library, but it's reasonable enough to not tire your ears on long drives. I packed all five seats (adults, too) even on a 30 minute drive to dinner, and I was surprised at the amount of general space and comfort provided, and nobody had to yell to hear one another like you would need to in other cars or the even cheaper Hyundai Venue. . An improved and roomy interior, but it's still a 30 grand economy car inside for the most part.

Motivating this Kona N Line is a 1.6L turbocharged inline-four with 190 horsepower connected to an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. 0-60 MPH takes a disappointing 8.5 seconds and kind of really betrays the N Line badging and body kit. Fuel economy is also an average 26 MPG overall. Where the Kona N Line really lets down, though, is not in its general lack of performance, but some uncultured characteristics from the powertrain including lurching and surging acceleration. Upon my first few drives, I found the gas pedal to be something of an on/off switch, with myself either applying too little power and going absolutely nowhere, or too much and suffering an uncomfortable and unplanned jolt; Edgy again, but for the wrong reasons. I did get used to it, but a new vehicle should have a smoother and more natural power delivery right out of the box. The little 1.6-liter engine also has no power on the top end and the transmission is rather lazy in gear changes. I was hoping for something far more rambunctious.

2024 Hyundai Kona N Line exterior

Despite the N Line name, this is very much an exercise in styling add-ons rather than in driving verve. This is even more demonstrated by the unenthusiastic handling and driving demeanor of the Kona N Line. While the past Kona N (the real N) hungered for corners, this new toned-down but physically-inflated 2024 N Line prefers a breezy light jog. AWD is a nice addition here at the price and size point, giving all-weather traction capability in a variety of climates, and quells any sign of tugging torquesteer at the wheel. But because the new Kona grew in size to be more hospitable to passengers, the added weight penalty has had a negative effect when it comes to driving dynamics. It's definitely more civil and comfortable for day-to-day commuting, but even with some N-Line goodies thrown in, this is definitely lacking the handling prowess and any trace of the fun that I had hoped for.

Hyundai has given us a grown-up Kona for better or worse. As a daily transportation device, this is no doubt an improved machine, given the extra size and accommodations now provided. But, wearing a dressed-up N Line kit, it's also disappointingly slow and with no appetite for cornering, as the increased mass has dulled the prospects of either attribute. Still, it is an interesting alternative for those wanting something a bit more edgy, but there's also hardly anything unique here except for the polarizing looks.

2024 Hyundai Kona N Line AWD

Price as-tested: $33,695

Pros: Interesting design

Cons: Creeping price; Lacks the same fun as the old Kona N

2024 hyundai kona n line review | The Road Beat

2024 hyundai kona n line interior

2024 hyundai kona interior

2024 hyundai kona n line exterior rear

2024 hyundai kona n line

2024 hyundai kona n line rear seats

2024 hyundai kona interior


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