Hyundai’s small SUV, the Kona, is now on sale across North­ern Ire­land. It’s a hand­some car, but has it got what it takes to make it in a cut-throat mar­ket?

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - PAUL CON­NOLLY

AL­THOUGH Hyundai were quick off the mark in the larger and mid-size SUV mar­kets with the Santa Fe and Tuc­son re­spec­tively, they were late to the small SUV party.

Hyundai’s an­swer to its late ar­rival is to make it stand out. Its new Kona com­pact SUV does pre­cisely that by mak­ing a bold de­sign state­ment and some ef­fec­tive use of colours.

Oh, and some in­no­va­tive use of tech­nol­ogy aimed at mak­ing it a win­ner with both par­ents and kids.

WHAT’S THE DE­SIGN LIKE? On the small side com­pared to the Santa Fe and Tuc­son, but cute and quite stand­out-ish with lots of per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions.

On the out­side, there’s a big hexag­o­nal grille, stacked head­lamps and some strik­ing use of black cladding.

Add in con­trast de­tail­ing, short over­hangs, a low roof line with roof rails as stan­dard, and you have one of the most at­trac­tive cars in its class. It comes in four vivid colours.

Inside, there isn’t that much change from its i20 sibling, apart from some dabs of match­ing colour to brighten things up and con­nect with the ex­te­rior de­sign.

Sit­ting as it does size-wise be­tween/ the i20 and i30 – it rides on its own plat­form – the Kona is roomier than you might think; which will help in the fight against ri­vals like the Re­nault Cap­tur, Nis­san Juke, Vaux­hall Mokka X.

Some tech has been im­ported from the i30 to give the Kona an added com­pet­i­tive edge, in­clud­ing an eight-inch touch­screen with sat-nav on some trim lev­els.

“The Kona is on the small side com­pared to the Santa Fe and Tuc­son, but cute and quite stand­out-ish with lots of per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions.”

POW­ER­PLANT AND TRANS­MIS­SION The Kona is now on sale with just two petrol en­gines avail­able so far, but a diesel is due along shortly.

All the pow­er­plants will be fa­mil­iar to ex­ist­ing Hyundai driv­ers, in­clud­ing the 1.0 T- GDI three-cylin­der petrol unit de­ploy­ing 118bhp, and a 175bhp 1.6-litre four-cylin­der unit. The most fuel-ef­fi­cient petrol will of­fi­cially re­turn al­most 55mph.

The forth­com­ing 1.6 CRDI diesel will out­put 131bhp and will likely bump the mpg fig­ures up into the mid 60s.

There are two and four-wheel drive vari­ants, and trans­mis­sion comes in man­ual six-speed and seven-speed DCT dual-clutch auto guises.

TRIM AND MOD­ELS Trim lev­els run from S to SE, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT. There is a high level of stan­dard safety kit and tech, with Driver At­ten­tion Alert, Hill Start As­sist Con­trol and Down­hill Brake Con­trol stan­dard on all mod­els.

EN­TRY-LEVEL MODEL Prices for S trim start at £16,195 – it comes with the lower-pow­ered petrol en­gine, six speed man­ual ‘ box, 16” al­loys, plus body coloured bumpers, door han­dles and door mir­rors, as well as a rear spoiler.

Other good­ies in­clude a 5” LCD cen­tre con­sole dis­play, 6 speak­ers, USB and AUX con­nec­tions.

It all adds up to a nicely-specced en­try-level car served up with a sig­nif­i­cant dol­lop of panache for its price point.

For £1,300 more, how­ever, SE trim chucks in 17” al­loys rear park­ing sensors and rear cam­era, with 7” touch­screen cen­tre con­sole dis­play with Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto smart­phone in­te­gra­tion.

HIGHER LEVEL TRIMS Premium spec adds yet more good­ies silver rear skid plate and side body mould­ings, cli­mate con­trol with au­to­matic de­fog func­tion, a high-end KRELL premium au­dio sys­tem, and a wire­less phone charg­ing pad.

Premium SE (£21,195) chucks in a Head Up Dis­play which projects rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion di­rectly to the driver’s line of sight.

By the time you reach Premium GT at £24,995, you have the 1.6 T- GDI 177PS en­gine mated to a 7-speed DCT 4WD sys­tem. Tech­nol­ogy abounds, for ex­am­ple the Safety Pack which in­cludes Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing with pedes­trian recog­ni­tion. WHO’S IT FOR? The Kona’s styling won’t be for every­one, but it looks great and will carve out a strong niche in this grow­ing mar­ket. Sin­gles, young and not so young cou­ples, and small fam­i­lies should all have a look.

An all-elec­tric ver­sion is re­port­edly on its way – which will likely in­crease its de­sir­abil­ity in other key niche groups.

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