Hyundai Kona 1.0 T GDI Premium.
Hyundai entered the B-SUV fray at the beginning of 2018, with the Kona. With their mid-range SUV Tucson & large SUV Santa Fe, Hyundai have a habit of producing no nonsense, great value cars in this sector & the Kona is set to follow suit.
Hyundai believes that 50% of it’s total sales will be made up of their SUV range in the coming year’s, so the Kona is an important launch for the brand. So important in fact, that Hyundai. unlike sister-brand KIA ,who’s Stonic is built on the Rio set-up, have invested in a whole new platform for the Kona to sit on & when you get inside one. This of course now includes an EV version our EV Car of the Year back in 2019.
The Kona been designed to compete in a sector that includes there Nissan Juke, Renault Captur SKODA Kamiq & SEAT Arona, whilst also having to fight off new competition from the Citroen C3 Aircross & aforementioned KIA Stonic.
The Kona is offered with two petrol engines. A 1.0-litre unit on all but the range-topping edition, plus a 1.6 in the line-up which also comes with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox & 4WD.
The 1.0 comes with a choice of five trim levels ; S, SE, Play, Premium & Premium SE. All are generously specced with the S coming with air-con, front & rear electric windows, electrically adjustable side mirrors, auto headlights & LED daytime running lights. For connectivity, DAB & Bluetooth come as part of a mono LCD infotainment system.
Spend a bit more & the SE model adds leather on the steering wheel & gear knob, an upgraded 7” infotainment screen with Apple Car Play & Android Auto, electric adjustment on the driver’s seat, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, cruise control, 17″ alloy wheels, cruise control & fog lights. Next up, the Play adds 18″ alloys & metallic paint. Premium add an 8” touchscreen, climate control, keyless entry, keyless ignition & Krell audio system. Top-of-the-range Premium SE is a step up again offering a head-up-display, heated & ventilated leather seats, a heated steering wheel & front parking sensors.
The larger 1.6 petrol version can be ordered with a trim level called Premium GT. Apart from the larger engine, it also comes with full-LED headlights, LED tail-lights, a larger information screen in the instrument cluster & pedestrian recognition as part of the autonomous emergency braking function.
We tested the 1.0 T-GDI Premium, which is the biggest seller in the range. Hyundai appear to have let their imaginations run wild with the Kona. Size & shape wise, it’s not that far removed from the Honda HRV in the way it looks, but Hyundai have splashed more things onto it than the Honda has.
It’s rugged looking, with large plastic wheel arches heightening it’s off-road look. The front headlights are slim & high up on the corner of the bonnet, below which sit the indicator lights in a cube shape. The fog lights where fitted, are lower down still, below the front grille. The sides feature creases along the top of the doors, with a curved finish at the bottom of the doors, giving the Kona a neat look. At the rear, the rear lights are set high, whilst the indicator light clusters sit lower down on each corner.
Disappointingly, our test car came in one colour, Dark Knight anthracite, which didn’t show off the great lines of the Kona, quite as well as some of the other coloured versions on offer. Hyundai is dividing the colours into two groups. ‘Neutral’, which includes white and silver & ‘Vivid’, which brings brighter red & blue & even a lime-green ‘Acid Yellow’. The Vivid shades also come with a contrast roof colour, which really makes the Kona stand out.
In the cabin of our test car, things were conservative. There’s grey, more grey, black & some silver trim around the air vents. To be fair, I favour this colour way & I’m not enamoured with dashes of colour here & there, although I daresay that those customers heading the Kona’s way will probably want to brighten things up. So, you can have bright colours around the air vents & even colour coded seat belts if desire.
Quality wise, the fixtures & fittings are pretty good. Some soft-touch plastic on top of the dashboard, harder plastics below & only a cheaper finish on the centre binnacle & door pockets, were a pleasant surprise.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the interior, is the colour touchscreen display that’s mounted high in the centre of the dashboard. Easy on the eye, large enough to see clearly, simple to navigate & quick to respond, this is one of the better infotainment screens we’ve tried, especially on an £19k car. Turn it on & Bluetooth connectivity is straightforward, as is connecting your i-Phone to Apple Car Play. The SatNav system is clear & concise & is even simple to follow when you split the screen.
Underneath the screen sit the heating controls & thankfully these can be controlled with good old fashioned buttons & knobs ! The Steering wheel controls allow you to control the infotainment function & volume, Bluetooth phone, cruise control & the car settings. Single USB & Aux-in connections are easily located in front of the gear lever. Entertainment comes courtesy of a nicely balanced Krell Premium Audio 8-Spreaker sound system.
Safety features are a highlight in the Kona. Airbags, Front, Front Side & Curtain, Alarm & Immobiliser, Downhill Brake Control (DBC), Driver Attention Alert (DAA), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) & Lane Keep Assist ( LKA) are all on offer here.
For those who want practicality, front & rear head & legroom is excellent, with the added height of the Kona especially noticeable in the rear. There’s a lidded storage bin between the front seats & slim door pockets with room for a drinks bottle in both front & rear.
The boot space is a little disappointing, with the Kona S having the largest boot, 361 litres, because it does without a space saver spare wheel, getting tyre sealant instead. Our test car with a spare wheel offered 334 litres, some way off the SEAT Arona & Citroen C3 Aircross. There is though, a useful luggage net & you can fit some small valuables in a tray that’s hidden under the boot floor.
Start the engine & the 998cc engine gives a knowing whirr. When driving alone, the1.0 litre unit is just fine both in town & on the motorway, offering decent acceleration when overtaking & being nippy in first & second gear. However, load the Kona up with four adults & the fun deteriorates considerably, especially on the motorway, where the claimed 0-62mph time of 12 seconds is a distant dream. Hyundai claims peak torque between 1,500rpm & 4,000rpm, but for me anyway, the power didn’t kick in until 2,550 revs. What is good though, is that the whirring noise emitting from the engine at lower speeds, completely disappears in fourth, fifth & sixth gears & above 40mph, it’s impressively quiet.
To ride in, I found the Kona pretty comfortable. The seats are just soft enough, although the larger 18” alloys fitted to our test car, did tend to bash a bit over pot holed Cheshire roads. Despite it’s increased height, the Kona handles corners & sharp turns admirably & never feels anything other than poised.
Our test car featured the 1.0 litre engine & this is set to be the best seller & for good reason. The Premium specced model we drove emits 125g/km of CO2 with a combined claimed fuel economy of 52.3mpg, whilst in our real world test we averaged 41.2 mpg. There isn’t a diesel of course, so if you want lower emissions you’ll have to down spec to the S model which comes with a better 117g/km of CO2’s.
Hyundai’s always score highly in the JD Power annual reports & Hyundai offers a five-year warranty with unlimited mileage, with only Kia’s seven-year deal offering a longer period of cover. If you lease one for 3 years your Kona should only require servicing over a 30,000 mile contract.
In a sector that is growing at double-quick time, the Kona which has replaced the ix20, is to use a football analogy, “a mid-table team.” Granted, it looks different, comes very well equipped, is well screwed together & it’s great value for money, with our test car retailing at £19,880.
On the downside, the boot is small & the ride harsh on 18″alloys. Plus, company car drivers will pay a BIK of 29% on a 120PS petrol Kona, compared to zero on the on the Kona EV, which is a sobering thought.
If you choose a Kona, you probably won’t be disappointed. We’d go for the Kona Play, which costs only £18,330 & comes decently equipped. We’d also go one of the brighter colour combos to really make your Kona stand out.