LAST WORD

Torque (Singapore) - - HYUNDAI KONA 1.0 VS MG ZS 1.0 SEAT ARONA 1.0 VS -

Sub­ur­ban­ites who want a lot of cross­over for not a lot of money should con­sider the MG ZS, which has the roomi­est cabin and largest boot. It also has the cushi­est front seats and, for less en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ers, rea­son­able per­for­mance.

The ZS, how­ever, has some short­com­ings in terms of user-friend­li­ness. Apart from the po­ten­tially con­fus­ing speedome­ter, there’s no footrest and the boot’s load­ing point is too high. But those is­sues aside, our im­pres­sion of the ZS is that it is well-as­sem­bled (in Thai­land). We didn’t find any­thing to worry about dur­ing our four-day test drive.

As en­thu­si­asts, we wish we could’ve spent four weeks with the Hyundai Kona. You’d imagine that its man­ual gear­box would be a turn-off to many buy­ers, but that hasn’t been the case. With around 100 units sold so far, we can as­sume that the 1-litre Kona’s de­sign, per­for­mance and rel­a­tively af­ford­able price (it’s also the least ex­pen­sive con­tender here) have proved to be a com­pelling com­bi­na­tion.

Less con­vinc­ing, though, are the Kona’s tight rear ac­com­mo­da­tion, firm ride and small stor­age points. But if you’re a keen driver who can live with these draw­backs, then the Kona will make you quite happy.

The “one-derful” Seat Arona gives us many rea­sons to smile. In­stead of the Kona’s man­ual trans­mis­sion, it’s equipped with a faster dual-clutch gear­box, as well as quicker over­all per­for­mance. Although the Arona is not as firmly damped as the Kona, the Seat’s small size does give it added ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity.

We also like the Arona’s prac­ti­cal cabin and en­joy­able in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. Less won­der­ful are its smaller back­seat, less flex­i­ble boot and sig­nif­i­cantly higher price tag. At press time, the $128,900 Arona FR costs $23k and $37.9k more than the MG ZS and Hyundai Kona re­spec­tively.

(Left and right) Both the Arona and ZS have switch­blade­type keys, but the lat­ter’s ribbed fin­ish of­fers bet­ter grip. The Kona’s de­vice (mid­dle) is the most el­e­gant and it feels solid, too.

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