Feelin’ Kool In A Kona
Price From $24,500
It’s taken too long for Hyundai to get into the small SUV category but as they say, `it’s better late than never’ and the giant Korean manufacturer’s offering is the crackin’ good Kona.
Kona is heavily based on new i30 with a shared platform and many other components.
And like the new i30 hatch, Kona has undergone local engineering development to make it better suited to our conditions.
Three grades are offered; Active, Elite and Highlander and two engine choices; a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol, only in 2WD (front), and a 1.6-litre turbo petrol, only in AWD (with lock up AWD mode).
All get alloys in either 16-inch, 17-inch and 18-inch depending on the model and the spare is a space saver.
The 110kW/180Nm 2.0-litre uses delayed engine ignition called the Atkinson Cycle to improve efficiency and comes with a conventional six speed auto transmission only. Fuel economy is 7.2-litres/100km on regular unleaded.
The 130kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo uses direct injection for efficiency gains and is only available with a seven speed dual clutch DCT `automatic.’’ Fuel economy is rated at 6.7-litres/100km also on regular unleaded. Both engines pass Euro 5 emissions regulations.
Prices range from $24,500 for the 2.0-litre, 2WD Active up to $36,000 for the 1.6-litre, AWD Highlander.
A generous amount of advanced driver assist technology is standard in the Elite and Highlander with a safety pack containing most of the technology available for an additional $1500 on the base grade.
Hardwired satnav isn’t available in any model, it’s all streamed through your phone.
There’s a wireless phone charger in the centre console and what’s called AutoLink that allows owners to keep tabs on many of their car’s functions including maintenance requirements.
All variants have three drive modes Eco Comfort and Sport.
ON THE ROAD
I was able to drive the base Active 2.0-litre and the top of the range Highlander 1.6 and have a definite preference for the latter in any grade because it goes better, has sporty performance, multi-link rear suspension, lower fuel consumption and all-wheel drive with 50/50 front to rear lock function
What struck me most, particularly with the 1.6 is that it capably addresses any desire for a hot hatch because that’s the level of performance you get. Handling is surprisingly agile for a tallish small SUV and I punted the cars pretty hard over some fairly rough roads and on gravel.
Dynamically there are no complaints with Kona delivering up sharp steering response, strong braking and impressive bump isolation.
I like to looks of it except the secondary lights low at the rear. Dunno why they bother with those. Apart from that it’s a good looker inside and out.
The interior has lots in common with other Hyundais but can brighten it up with multi coloured trim highlights and there’s a contrast roof colour available too….
➔ Looks cute
➔ Attractive colour range
➔ Impressive performance in 1.6 model
➔ Alloys on all models
➔ Advanced driver assist features from mid spec’ up
➔ Wireless phone charger
➔ All autos, conventional and dual clutch
➔ Sharp dynamics
➔ Feels hot(ish) hatch in 1.6 variants
➔ Competitive pricing
NOT SO MUCH
➔ Space saver spare
➔ No hard wired satnav
➔ Paddle shift not available
➔ Ugly lower tail lights
Engines: 2.0-litre petrol Atkinson Cycle 110kw/180Nm, 1.6-litre turbo petrol 130kW/265Nm
Transmissions: 6-speed auto (2WD 2.0-litre), 7-speed dual clutch DCT (AWD 1.6-litre)
Fuel economy: 7.2litres/100km (2.0), 6.7-litres/100km (1.6)
Safety: Not rated
Suspension: Strut front both engines, beam axle (2.0), multi-link (1.6)
Performance: Not tested, 1.6 a lot quicker than the 2.0-litre
ALTERNATIVES: Honda HR-V from $24,990, Toyota C-HR from $26,990, Mitsubishi ASX from $25,000, Mazda CX-3 from $20,490.
Our Rating: 82/100