Kwinana Courier - - Driveway - Bill McKinnon

LOOK, I’ll ad­mit up front, I don’t get this com­pact SUV thing.

Sure, they are the new cool tool but most of them are just hatch­backs with chunkier body­work, a bit of ex­tra ground clear­ance and plas­tic trim to en­cour­age delu­sions of rugged­ness and off-road abil­ity.

Oh, there’s one ex­tra fea­ture they whack on the com­pact SUV mu­tant, too. A higher price. OK, but you’re also get­ting more car for your money, right?

Wrong. In some cases, you’re ac­tu­ally get­ting less.

An i30 hatch given the com­pact SUV treat­ment, Hyundai’s base model Kona Ac­tive is $27,000 drive­away. You get a 2.0-litre petrol four with 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque, matched to a sixspeed au­to­matic and front-wheel drive.

The i30 Ac­tive hatch has a more powerful ver­sion, with 120kW/203Nm. Of­fi­cially, it’s $23,250 plus on-roads but the small hatch­back class is so com­pet­i­tive now that no­body pays full re­tail for any­thing.

Ah, but Kona is an SUV, so it’s more spa­cious and prac­ti­cal. No, it isn’t. Kona has 361L of boot vol­ume with all seats in use and 1143L with the rear seat backs folded for­ward. The i30’s equiv­a­lent num­bers are 395L and 1301L.

If you plan to go off-road, the Kona’s ex­tra 30mm of ground

clear­ance will be use­ful. If you don’t, it’s ir­rel­e­vant. I’m not try­ing to talk you out of the Kona.

It’s a re­spectable gad­get and it’s your money.

But if you’re look­ing at a com­pact SUV such as this one, a Subaru XV or a Mazda CX-3, check the hatch that spawned it.

In the Ac­tive, stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment touch­screen, Blue­tooth and Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto com­pat­i­bil­ity.

Voice con­trol works only with these apps.

A cam­era with mov­ing guide­lines, rear park­ing sen­sors, au­to­matic head­lights, in­di­vid­ual tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, roof rails, leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel, cruise and sin­gle zone air­con are also stan­dard.

An ex­tra $1500 buys blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and rear cross traf­fic alert.

Kona’s de­tuned 2.0-litre is slug­gish be­low 3000rpm and around town you of­ten have to give the ac­cel­er­a­tor a se­ri­ous jab to get a down­shift and de­cent ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Sport mode im­proves re­spon­sive­ness but the trans­mis­sion works harder to keep the revs up, so fuel econ­omy suf­fers.

Ex­pect a fru­gal 6.0L/100km on the high­way and 9.0L-11.0L in town, on reg­u­lar un­leaded.

Ver­dict: If you re­ally, re­ally want a de­tuned, re-skinned, space-com­pro­mised hatch­back, go ahead. The Kona is just fine. But take the i30 for a test drive too.

Still gotta have that SUV?

Watch this space... the Hyundai Kona Ac­tive.

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