HYUNDAI’S SUV A SPACE ODDITY
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.