Expert Reviews

First Drive: Hyundai Kona

Friday 16 June 2017

First Drive: Hyundai Kona

The Kona is Hyundai’s entry into the booming compact SUV sector. The fact that cars like this have become very popular may be old news, but it’s not too late for a new kid on the block, especially one as stylish and practical as this.

Hyundai’s intention with this car is to face off against rivals such as the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke. The Kona provides a new perspective on the small SUV, which will appeal to customers who like standing out from the crowd.

Looks & Image

One thing’s for certain – the Kona can’t be accused of looking boring. It’s a handsome beast, with a sharp, angular body and stylised headlights. The quality of the car’s appearance does depend heavily on its colour though. Brighter hues are flattering, but darker shades give it a washed-out image.

The Kona is the first in Hyundai’s new style movement. In the future, we’ll see a variety of new cars with similar aesthetics, including a smaller SUV and a big four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Space & Practicality

The good degree of practicality means the Kona is an ideal car for families, especially those with a very active lifestyle. The boot capacity is 360 litres, but it has to be said that the high load lip could be a nuisance. The rear seats can be folded completely flat to increase storage space if necessary.

In the back seats there’s plentiful legroom and headroom, and the front seats allow for a good amount of shoulder room too. Big windows and bright interior colours make the Kona feel a lot more spacious than the Nissan Juke for instance.

Behind the Wheel

The Kona is available with a choice of two chassis configurations. Less potent models are fitted with a standard torsion-beam rear suspension set-up, while more powerful examples use a more advanced multi-link system. There are two engines to choose from as well – a 1.0-litre turbocharged unit producing 118bhp or a 1.6-litre turbo with 175bhp.

We drove our test car at Hyundai’s research facility in Namyang, so the suspension was set up to the South Korean specification, which is softer than that of European vehicles. However, the ride still felt rather firm, meaning the Kona would be quite uncomfortable on British roads.

It’s not a bad car to drive though by any measure. The steering is nicely weighted and there’s only a small amount of body roll in the corners. The six-speed dual-clutch gearbox we tested was smooth and responsive.

Motorway speeds do present a slight problem in the form of noticeable road noise and wind noise. But this is somewhat countered by the engine being crisp and quiet.

Value for Money

Hyundai has yet to announce the price of the Kona, but we predict it will start at around £18,000. This is reflected well in the interior, which lacks flair and certainly does not share the exterior’s exciting looks.

Having said that, build quality feels solid and there’s plenty of weight to all of the controls. A few hard plastics can be found in the lower sections of the cabin, but nothing drastic. An eight-inch infotainment screen sits in the middle of the centre console.

Who would buy one ?

The Kona is an excellent proposition for customers looking for a good all-rounder small SUV. There may only be two engines to choose from but this doesn’t stop the car from being ideal for smaller families. The firm ride has the advantage that, unlike most cars of this type, the Hyundai takes corners well.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Hyundai Kona
Engine tested: 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Power: 175bhp
Torque: 255Nm
Max speed: 127mph
0-60mph: 7.7 seconds
Emissions: TBC

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