Hyundai Kona: Riding High
by Sue Baker
It sounds like a brand of coffee, looks quite funky and has an agile feel from behind the wheel. Here comes another crossover and the newest car from Hyundai.
South Korean car maker Hyundai is on a bit of a roll. It has an expanding range that includes electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even fuel cell models alongside conventionally fuelled offerings. Its Ionic range has won multiple awards, most recently the ‘Supreme Award’ as newly crowned Women’s World Car of the Year, and ‘Green Car of the Year’ from Professional Driver magazine.
Hyundai’s ten-model range is just being expanded to include an appealing newcomer and eleventh member, the Kona. Predictably, it’s yet another SUV-crossover of a type that is steadily engulfing the new car market.
Kona 10 Challenge
It is fast becoming part of Hyundai’s DNA to embrace adventurous escapades with its cars, such as the crossing of Antarctica earlier this year by a modified Santa Fe driven by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s great grandson. Now a new adventure has been staged to herald the arrival of the Kona: an epic 72-hour journey through 10 volcanic landscapes.
This marathon trip was undertaken by steely adventurer Sophie Radcliffe, who spent a gruelling three days battling through icy weather on a 1,046 miles trek to visit the 10 volcanic sites across the UK and Ireland. They ranged from Snowdon to the Isle of Skye, via such as the Giant’s Causeway and Scafell Peak.
The starting point was an old disused miner’s track in Snowdonia that is normally inaccessible to vehicles, but it was exceptionally opened to a convoy of Konas for the car’s UK launch. The rugged terrain was an apt showcase for a car that looks the part of a country SUV, with its tough black wheel-arch protectors and reinforced sills, even if it is more of an urban crossover than genuine mud-plugger.
Hyundai has been clever to funk up the Kona with distinctive, if somewhat divisive, design. It is quite in-yer-face in its looks, the boldest-style car Hyundai has yet produced, with contrasting body trim, two-tone roof, and a bright colour palette of 10 exterior shades. There are four cabin decor schemes, and even the option of seatbelts that match the colourful interior trim.
Cabin quality is pretty fair, with some pliant upper surfaces, although lower down the plastics are hard to the touch. Fit and finish throughout the cabin is good, and the Kona’s seats are amply supportive with plenty of adjustment. As with other crossover models, it’s a relatively elevated seating position, and gives a good all-round view out.
The Kona is an engaging drive for a car of its type. It has pleasantly weighted and averagely precise steering feel. Body lean on the bends is very adequately controlled, and the 4.1 metres long Hyundai feels nimble on a twisty route and has good ease of manoeuvrability in urban situations. Its compact size makes it one of the easier crossovers for parking.
On the kit list
It’s quite decently equipped, with electric windows all round, a reversing camera, seven-inch touch-screen infotainment, and all the expected connectivity, including both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in our SE spec test car. With front-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, this is the likely best-seller, but both four-wheel-drive and auto transmission are available higher up the range.
There is a space saver spare wheel in all versions apart from the base level S model. That’s good for peace of mind in the unlucky event of a puncture, but it does take up some of the boot room.
That makes the Kona’s 334-litre boot smaller than some of its rivals which have puncture repair kits. It’s a full five-seater, though, with the usual option of a flat folding rear seat to extend the carrying capacity to a maximum 1,116 litres.
Initially, the Kona comes with a choice between two petrol engine, both turbocharged: a three-cylinder one-litre with a power output of 118 bhp, and a four-cylinder 1.6 litre, 175 bhp. The price range is from £16,195 to £24,440. Diesel and electric versions will follow next year.
Hyundai Kona Stats Review
Model tested: Kona SE 1.0 T-GDi manual
Top speed: 112 mph
0-62 mph: 12.0 secs
Economy: 52.3 mpg
CO2: 125 g/km
Images: Sue Baker
February 23, 2018
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