By Mark Borlace
Last updated on: February 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm
The Kona is named after Hawaii’s popular Kona Coast and Hyundai say their latest SUV is every bit as impressive as its namesake. Romantic marketing spin aside, how does it stack up against its competitors? Our experts put it to the test and here’s what they had to say.
Value-for-money and safety
With an affordable entry-price of $26,990 and a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, the 1.6L Kona Active is off to a strong start in the value-for-money stakes. And, as Hyundai are latecomers to the SUV market, they’ve had time to take a close look at their competitors and get the package just right. This means the level of standard features is very good.
For an extra $1500, you can also add the optional safety pack, which gives you more goodies, including:
- lane-keep assist (provides an audible and visual warning if the car drifts from its lane without indicating and steering intervention to help the car stay in the centre of the lane).
- driver attention warning technology (detects if the driver’s getting tired or driving carelessly)
- blind-spot warning (alerts the driver if another vehicle enters their blind-spot)
- forward-collision avoidance assistance (technology that allows brake by itself if it detects sudden stopping from the car in front or a pedestrian that unexpectedly steps out onto the road).
Design and function
The Kona is the first Hyundai since the Veloster to have a certain edginess to it. From the distinctive narrow headlights to large black plastic sections around the wheels, Hyundai’s aggressive side is out on show.
If you’re a fashionista and cringe at the thought of someone else having the same coloured car, relax. With nine body colour choices and two contrasting roof colour options available, it’s unlikely another car will show up at the shopping centre carpark in the same outfit as yours.
Inside, you’ll see touches of the i30, as its floorplan has been used as the foundation for the Kona’s design.
So far the design story has been pretty good, but there are some downsides. There’s no full-size spare tyre, the rear legroom is marginal and there’s no satellite navigation available, so you’ll have to buy and install a standalone sat-nav system or chew through your phone data to access map apps for directions.
In terms of function, Hyundai’s Auto Link app can be installed on a compatible smartphone to reveal information about how your Kona’s been performing. Everything from monitoring your tyre pressure to parking management, and even booking services in, can be arranged through the app. It also has the ability to compare information with other Kona owners.
On the road
The Kona’s suspension has been tuned for Australian roads, giving it the handling of a much zippier small car, even in the AWD versions.
There are two engines to choose from: either the 2L naturally-aspirated, four-cylinder with six-speed automatic or the 1.6L Turbo GDi AWD with seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
The latter is the pick of the two for those wanting a little more oomph, as the turbo packs some punch for an SUV of Kona’s size.
Hyundai might be fashionably late to the small SUV party, but they’ve made an impressive entrance. It means they’ve had the luxury of studying the market and getting the package right.
So, what does that mean for other carmakers and their SUVs? Hyundai’s saying ‘hi’ to its competition – and other brands should probably be worried.