Read the Carzone review for the funky new Hyundai Kona
Pros: Funky styling, well-built interior, punchy petrol engines
Cons: No diesel option, styling won’t be for everyone, more spacious rivals
The Hyundai Tucson has been immensely popular in recent years, and it continues to top new car sales charts here in Ireland. Hyundai has now added a smaller sibling to its SUV range in the all-new Kona. The Kona competes in the hotly-contested B-SUV class against cars like the Kia Stonic, Nissan Juke, SEAT's Arona and many others. The KONA’s styling is certainly bold, and it borrows inspiration from the Hyundai Tucson in many areas, which is a great thing. Even though the Kona is a tad late to the small-SUV party, it is already proving to be a popular choice with Irish buyers too. We spent a week recently to see what it is like to live with and how it compares with its rivals.
What is it like?
Rather than replicating the Tucson’s styling, Hyundai has forged a new template with the Kona. Although its styling is divisive, it certainly stands out in the class, with a distinctive twin headlight design, several front grilles and pronounced fog lights, while chunky black plastic bumpers along the side and rear lend it road presence. As standard, the Kona is fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and tinted glass, but our high specification test car boasts large 18-inch alloy wheels, silver skid plates and even a bi-tone coloured rood. Speaking of colours, this striking ‘Tangerine Comet’ colour scheme stands out from the crowd.
The Kona is more reserved inside than it is outside, with a conventional dashboard layout, neatly-integrated infotainment and subtle trim colouring on high specification models. There is enough room in the cabin to accommodate four adults, although leg and head room isn’t as good in the rearmost seats. The Kona’s 361 litre boot is on par with most of its rivals, although it is smaller than the comparable SEAT Arona or Volkswagen T-Roc. The fit and finish is quite impressive and especially so in higher specification models, while the 7-inch touch screen system is unfussy and easy to use. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay offers seamless smartphone connectivity, but it is available from middle specification upwards.
The Kona is currently available with two petrol engines; though additional diesel and all-electric powertrains will be added in the future. The petrol engine range includes a 1.0-litre T-GDI unit with 100 horsepower, front-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. We drove the larger 1.6-litre T-GDI petrol model with all-wheel-drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces 177 horsepower and it’s certainly lively out on the road and 0-100km/h takes only 7.9 seconds. The smaller 1.0-litre Kona is likely to be the top choice in Ireland, with superior fuel economy, a lower entry price and reasonable performance credentials. We achieved 8.0l/100km in fuel economy during our time with the 1.6 T-GDI, and annual motor tax is listed at €390.
The Kona stays flat through corners thanks to its firm suspension setup, but it isn’t as comfort-orientated as other small SUVs in the class such as the Citroen C3 Aircross. It is pleasant and easy to drive around town with great visibility from the cabin. Although our test car has all-wheel-drive, it isn’t a true off-roader due to limited ground clearance, so the front-wheel-drive Kona should suffice for most buyer’s needs. Once up to speed, the Kona is quiet inside with good noise insulation and refinement. It is worth considering the different wheel options (16, 17 and 18-inch) which ultimately effect comfort and style.
Prices for the new Hyundai Kona start from €20,995, which is on par with many of its rivals and considerably lower than its larger sibling, the Hyundai Tucson. There are three specifications to choose from; Comfort, Executive and Premium. The Comfort model is well-equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, electric windows, LED Daytime Running Lights, an LCD driver’s display and various safety aids such as Lane Keep Assist and Hill Start Assist. The mid-range Executive model gains 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, a seven-inch touch screen infotainment system, privacy glass, front fog lights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a reversing camera. Our range-topping Premium test car has leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, Front Park Assist, Blind Spot Detection and various styling upgrades, but prices start from €25,995 in this specification.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
Although the B-SUV segment is brimming with choice, the Hyundai Kona stands out from the crowd with its funky styling, punchy petrol engines and well-built interior. The Hyundai Tucson has been hugely popular here in Ireland, and the Kona will likely enjoy similar success in its own class for years to come. That said, its styling won’t be for everyone and it isn’t quite as practical as some of its rivals. That said, the Kona only strengthens Hyundai's current crossover line-up and it is definitely one to shortlist.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Hyundai Kona Premium
Prices from: €€20,995
Price as tested: €30,595
Annual Road Tax: €390
Engine: 1591cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Top Speed: 204km/h
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 361 litres