Priced from £16,195
Release date November 2017
After a year jam-packed with new examples, it’s fair to say What Car? is looking more like What Small SUV? of late. Ultimately, UK car buyers want them and car manufacturers are only too happy to jack up the traditional hatchback in search of sales.
The Hyundai Kona is the latest to grace our pages. Although it doesn’t look like one, it’s best to think of it as a raised i20, Hyundai’s small car. That makes it very much a small SUV and makes it a rival to cars such as the Renault Captur, Seat Arona and Citroën C3 Aircross.
Initially, you’ll be able to buy a 118bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox or a turbocharged 175bhp 1.6 with a seven-speed auto. Next year, a 1.6 diesel will join the range, as well as a pure-electric model.
So, in a class that's growing by the month but has yet to produce a truly outstanding car, has Hyundai done enough with the Kona to lead the charge?
2017 Hyundai Kona on the road
We've tried the probable best-seller, the 1.0 T-GDI petrol, which feels comfortable pulling itself around town but certainly never feels outright quick, especially on the motorway among faster traffic. A big part of the problem is its relatively narrow band of shove – you're often changing down a gear in search of its sweet spot.
At least the Kona's manual gearshift is fairly slick and the little 1.0-litre engine remains decently quiet and vibration-free even when pushed hard, which you'll be doing more than you'd like.
The Kona doesn't feel particularly agile, either. Its steering lacks communication (although the same can be said of all its rivals) and feels quite heavy. Coupled with the fact that the steering also feels slow and there's noticeable body lean in bends, it all makes for a pretty uninspiring car to thread along a country B-road at speed.
Which would be absolutely fine if the Kona's ride was spot-on but, unfortunately, it isn't. Admittedly, we were driving test cars fitted with range-largest 18in alloy wheels, but in town over ruts and bumps there's a tendency for them to thump into the cabin. Things improve only marginally on the motorway, but it never truly settles down. We hope cars on smaller wheels will prove a more comfortable experience.
2017 Hyundai Kona interior
The Kona's fundamental driving position is good. The seat is set at a natural height, has a decent range of adjustment and so, too, does the steering wheel, meaning drivers of all sizes should be able to get comfortable. There's also good space for a couple of tall adults in the fronts seats.
Its rear seats will be a squeeze for another couple of tall adults, though, and three would be uncomfortable. While no car in this class is truly spacious in the back, a Citroën C3 Aircross and Renault Captur both have roomier rear quarters.
The Kona's boot is nothing to write home about, either. At 334 litres, it looks stingy next to the above rivals, while the Captur also gets folding and sliding rears seats rather than the Kona's fixed 60/40 split-folding arrangement.
However, Hyundai is taking personalisation seriously, offering interior trim colours to match the car's exterior and there are quirky touches such as matching seatbelts. Quality, too, is a good effort, with lots of soft plastics, slick switches and a generally solid feel to the dashboard's construction.
And Hyundai's infotainment system, while obviously surpassed by more expensive models, is among the best in class here. Entry-level cars get a 5.0in monochrome display, a DAB radio and Bluetooth, while the mid-range system is a 7.0in colour touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology included.
We tried the range-topping 8.0in touchscreen system, which also adds sat-nav. It has impressive clarity, good reaction times and is easy to navigate, even if the sat-nav can sometimes be a little slow to keep up on the move. Wireless smartphone charging (for specific phones) is standard on more expensive trims, too.
Equipment-wise, Hyundai throws in features such as 16in alloy wheels, air-con, cruise control, electric front and rear windows and automatic emergency braking as standard on entry-level S cars. SE trim adds 17in alloys, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors and rear camera, while next-level Premium cars add 18in wheels, climate control and keyless start and entry.
Finally, Premium SE and Premium GT (the latter only available with the 1.6-litre petrol) get extra safety kit, a head-up display and those quirky interior colour accents.
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Source : https://www.whatcar.com/news/2017-hyundai-kona-review/
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