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Funky little Hyundai Kona SUV makes style statement

PUBLISHED: 08:09 27 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:10 27 April 2018

Hyundai Kona has got the looks - and bright colours - to stand out in the compact SUV sector. Picture: Hyundai

Hyundai Kona has got the looks - and bright colours - to stand out in the compact SUV sector. Picture: Hyundai

Hyundai

Hyundai has expanded its SUV range with the compact Kona. Fun and funky, it certainly gets noticed and lives up to the promise in the way it drives, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Silver rear skid plate helps create the SUV look. Picture: HyundaiSilver rear skid plate helps create the SUV look. Picture: Hyundai

Hyundai has entered the compact SUV market – who isn’t these days – with its Kona and the Korean car-maker aims to get noticed.

I was astounded how many people were drawn to the Kona, probably the most funky design from the Hyundai stable. That said, finished in Acid Yellow –a cross between piccalilli and lime pickle – with colour co-ordinated cabin trim, seat piping and seat belts it was hard to miss.

Wondering about the name? Kona is in Hawaii which fits with the American place names for Hyundai’s bigger SUVs – Tucson and Santa Fe.

Cabin and fascia are well finished but there is a lot of hard plastic. Picture: HyundaiCabin and fascia are well finished but there is a lot of hard plastic. Picture: Hyundai

Looks and image

Colour aside, although bright ones best bring out the Kona’s fun character, it’s one of the best looking compact SUVs with bold, well-proportioned styling.

The face is very distinctive with slimline, high-level daytime running lights and, on higher models, rugged-looking anthracite body garnish and wheelarch cladding, silver rear skid plate and contrasting roof.

Rear legroom is adequate but tapering side windows make it feel smaller than it is. Picture: HyundaiRear legroom is adequate but tapering side windows make it feel smaller than it is. Picture: Hyundai

Under the bonnet

Initially, two turbo petrol engines with the big seller a 120PS, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, with six-speed manual gearbox, in S, SE, Premium and Premium SE models. The 177PS, 1.6-litre, with seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, is only in range-topping Premium GT. New 115 and 136PS 1.6-litre turbo diesels are due this year.

The Kona doesn’t need a big engine, and the 1.0-litre is flexible enough to tootle along in urban traffic, peppy to nip past slower traffic and relatively refined and hushed cruising at motorway speeds. It’s not the most economical three-pot turbo at 40mpg overall.

The 361-litre boot extends with 60/40 split rear seats. Picture: HyundaiThe 361-litre boot extends with 60/40 split rear seats. Picture: Hyundai

How it drives

The ride is firm, not unpleasantly unyielding on bumpy-lumpy surfaces although it can feel a mite choppy on undulating roads. What is more noticeable is the amount of tyre noise, especially with 18in wheels standard from Premium grade.

When it comes for handling, that new platform comes into its own and, for a compact SUV with 170mm of ground clearance, it’s surprisingly good to drive, composed and well planted even on meandering cross-country routes with well-weighted steering – quick and responsive at speed but effortless for parking.

Boot has some underfloor storage. Picture: HyundaiBoot has some underfloor storage. Picture: Hyundai

Space and comfort

It’s not the most spacious of compact SUVs but there’s adequate head and legroom for four six-footers to manage short journeys. Three across the back bench is tight and the middle occupant has to contend with a hump in the floor.

Tapering rear side windows and a shallow back screen make it quite dark in the back and don’t do anything for rear visibility so you’re glad of rear parking sensors and camera on all but entry S.

The 361-litre boot has a sill level floor, and some storage beneath, but the sloping tailgate is the limiting factor. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and create a long, flat 1,143-litre load bay.

The driving position has good adjustment for seat and steering with the fascia dominated by a large speedo and rev counter and high-level touchscreen information screen which is easy to use.

The cabin is well finished but there is a lot of hard plastic.

Equipment

All Konas offer a lot of kit. Safety-wise, downhill brake control, driver attention alert, stability control, hill-start assist and lane keep assist are standard across the range along with, from Premium SE, features to spot cars in the blind spot or approaching when reversing out of a parking space. Autonomous emergency braking is standard only on Premium GT and optional on all others.

On top of the Premium’s eight-speaker Krell audio system with subwoofer, satellite navigation, climate control, keyless entry and starting and 18in alloy wheels, Premium SE adds leather seats facings, electrically-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, heated steering wheel, power folding door mirrors, front parking sensors and head-up display.

Final say

In an increasingly competitive class, the Kona is good to drive but really stands out for its smart styling and generous equipment and safety. Add a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty and that could seal the deal.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi Premium SE from £21,230 (range £16,445 to £26,230)

Engine: 998cc, 120PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 12 seconds; top speed 112mph

MPG: Urban 44.8; extra urban 56.5; combined 52.3

CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 26pc

Insurance group: 10 (out of 50)

Warranty: Five years, unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,165mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,070mm; H 1,565mm

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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