Hyundai Kona: On trend
A small SUV with a highly-rated electric version? The Hyundai Kona could be the most 2018 car of 2018, says William Scholes
IT is possible that the Hyundai Kona could be the most 2018 car of 2018, writes William Scholes.
First, it is an SUV. Everyone wants SUVs these days, and Hyundai happens to be among the best at the style of vehicle which has, in double-quick time, built a market share of around 40 per cent and now dominates the European new car market. Hyundai’s family-friendly Tucson has been Ireland’s favourite SUV since 2016.
Second, the Kona is also a small SUV. Small SUVs have been the must-have of 2018 among both customers and manufacturers.
Third, the Kona is available with a pure-electric drivetrain, and it doesn’t get more zeitgeisty than that.
Better still, the Kona Electric is widely regarded to be the EV with the greatest real-world range, with the 64kWh battery model able to manage 259 miles on a charge.
Even if you wanted a Kona Electric right now, you will find it really hard to get one, such is the gap between high demand and limited supply.
But if you simply like the idea of your new small SUV being Kona-shaped, then Hyundai will happily sell you one with a petrol or diesel engine under its distinctive bonnet.
The styling certainly sets the Kona apart. It is easily the most individual looking car in the Hyundai line-up, to the extent that for many people it will be a ‘love it or loathe it’ design.
That ‘Marmite’ approach hasn’t harmed the popularity of, for example, Nissan’s similarly-sized Juke.
And when so many new car designs are characterised by blandness and a lack of imagination, Hyundai’s sense of adventure with the Kona deserves to at least be acknowledged.
The car looks like it is ready for an adventure itself, not least through the liberal application of rugged plastic cladding.
Roof bars, two-tone paintwork schemes, distinctive wheel designs, a bold palette of colours and an eye-catching arrangement of many lights and grilles at the front of the car help complete the rough-and-tough, ready-for-anything image.
The interior can also be livened up with splashes of bright colours - lime or orange, anyone? - to the seat trim, dashboard, seat belts and elsewhere. Visually, then, it is a long way from an i20…
As you would hope for a new model from a serious manufacturer, the Kona comes with a bunch of the latest safety kit fitted.
The Kona looks like it is ready for an adventure itself, not least through the liberal application of rugged plastic cladding. Roof bars, two-tone paintwork schemes, distinctive wheel designs, a bold palette of colours and an eye-catching arrangement of many lights and grilles at the front of the car help complete the rough-and-tough, ready-for-anything image
This includes lane-keep assist, which warns the driver before the car moves over white lines on the road as well as correcting the steering to guide the car back into a safe position, and autonomous emergency braking, which uses radar and camera sensors to brake the car automatically if a collision is imminent.
High-beam assist, driver attention alert, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert are also available.
The Kona was awarded a five-star Euro Ncap safety rating, the maximum available, when it was crash-tested.
It is one of the safest cars in its class, and is highly rated in the four areas that the European testing organisation assesses: adult occupant safety, child occupant safety, pedestrian safety and safety assist, which is focused on driver aids and equipment such as autonomous emergency braking.
Other high-tech gadgets include smartphone mirroring, courtesy of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can also have big-car equipment such as a head-up display and wireless phone charging.
A high-end sound system, DAB radio, Bluetooth, touchscreen and USB sockets are among the Kona's arsenal.
You can order a Kona with 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines, but the pick of the range - electric aside - is probably Hyundai’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit, a sweet little motor that suits the Kona’s energetic character.
Six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic flavours of gearbox are offered.
The Kona has a five-star Euro Ncap safety rating and is one of the safest cars in its class
Despite the sturdy looks and raised ride height, the Kona is front-wheel-drive unless you go for the range-topping 175bhp petrol Premium GT version, which is four-wheel-drive and auto’ boxed.
A key Hyundai attraction is the company’s five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
In the debit column is the fact that there are rivals with roomier back seats and bigger boots. Nor is the driving experience going to raise anyone’s pulse. Perhaps that is the point.
There are five trim levels, rising from the £16,900 S to the £25,445 Premium GT via SE from £18,200, Premium from £19,500 and Premium SE from £21,900.
The S is well equipped, with 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning with rear air vents, automatic headlamps with LED daytime running lights, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connections among the highlights.
SE trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, fog lamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, electric driver's seat lumbar support, rear parking sensors and camera and a 7-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity.
Premium cars gain 18-inch alloy wheels, eye-catching exterior trim, climate control, automatic wipers, keyless entry and ignition, a high-end audio system and wireless phone charging.
Premium SE highlights include leather upholstery, seats which are both heated and ventilated and a head-up display.
The Premium GT is the 'kitchen sink' model. As well as the top drivetrain, it has full LED headlamps and a safety pack with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition.
From its consciously distinctive styling to its emphasis on high-tech gadgets and personalisation, the Kona is every inch the modern, small SUV. Expect to see lots of them on our roads.
AT A GLANCE
Hyundai Kona Premium SE 1.0 T
Price: £21,750. As tested £22,550, with metallic paint £565 and safety pack £235
Engine and transmission: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo, front-wheel-drive, six-speed manual gearbox; 118bhp, 127lb.ft
Performance: Top speed 112mph, 0-62mph in 12.0 seconds
Fuel consumption and CO2: 52.3mpg (combined), 38.3mpg (real world), 125g/km
Car tax: £165 in first year, then £140 annually
Benefit in kind: 26 per cent
Euro Nap safety rating: Five stars (87/85/62/60), 2017