DRIVEN: Hyundai launches new Kona, another funky crossover in its SUV arsenal

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post
Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post
Janine Van der Post
Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have hit their stride during the last decade, producing excellent, stylish vehicles. The duo has entered the SUV market with funky models and has been riding a huge wave of success ever since.

From the entry-level Hyundai Grand i10, which exceeds sale units of more than 1000 units each month, to the popular Creta and Tucson models - it's no surprise that the automaker is rated as the third best-selling passenger car brand in South Africa.

The new Kona has edgy styling, and is a great improvement on its already good-looking cars. The new crossover SUV slots in between the Creta and Tuscon, expanding the options for local buyers. Hyundai says the Kona is named after the coastal region on the Big Island of Hawaii: "The Kona region is well-known to thrill-seeking travellers." 

The automaker says the island's energetic image is reflected in the innovative and dynamic design and engineering of the new "lifestyle-focused SUV". 

There are two models available in the line-up: a feisty 1.0-litre TDGI Executive petrol engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox delivering 88kW and 172Nm, and the 2.0-litre MPI Executive engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with 110kW and 180Nm.

Prices start from R379 900 for the 1.0-litre model and R399 900 for the 2.0-litre version.

What's it like to drive?

Darn good, actually. I had partnered up with a fellow motoring journo who I had not seen in ages. Usually, we would chat up a storm and often get lost on the scheduled driving route but this time, all we focused on was the SUV as we recorded a mini-review for a radio interview.

The 1.0-litre genuinely makes the car feel as if the vehicle is being powered by a unit of much larger displacement. The little engine is surprisingly strong and feels as if it could be a 1.6-litre or even 1.8. Its 88kW/172Nm power figures are more than sufficient and it can take a thorough beating on the long roads to the Swartland municipality. 

The 2.0-litre's figures of 110kW/180Nm are evident especially when you're throwing it into the delectable corners of the HelsHoogte Pass in Stellenbosch. The automaker says its new zero-tilt bushings and high stiffness and torsion-beam makes for better ride comfort and sportier handling.

hyundai kona features

Gear changes are smooth in both variants and Hyundai has another winner here if we're going purely on looks, features and driving dynamics. 

Goodies to write home about

So how big is the car really? Well, it's smaller than a Toyota C-HR, Audi Q2, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX3, and an Opel Mokka X, at 4.165m but it's wider than all of them at 1.8m.

The Kona faces tough local competition; its biggest rivals would be the Ford EcoSport, Nissan Qashqai, Suzuki Ignis, Renault Captur and the vehicles mentioned above.

Luggage space is 361 litres (same as the Renualt Captur) with the second row of seats up. The second row of seats has a 60:40 split for extra space and it also features a one-touch button which folds the seats down flat and fast. There's also a adjustable and foldable luggage board which frees up another 40 litres of space.

There are five body colours available in the range with acid-yellow being the new, popping shade - a refreshing and vibrant shade compared to the red, blue and silvers we have been accustomed to from Hyundai.

Customers who pick the new shade will see the colour carried through the interior of the vehicle with subtle inserts such as around the gear lever, seat belts and air vent trims. All other colours feature red inserts regardless of the body colour.

Convenience features is a long and impressive list and, all standard equipment. These include Blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist with a camera; USB, Aux, and power supply centre, rear view ECM and sunglass holder, height-adjustable headrests, vanity mirror with illumination for both driver and passenger, aircon, folding mirrors, and height-adjustable seat belts.

That's already a mouthful, but here are some more:

hyundai kona features

hyundai kona features

It includes a 7 year or 200 000km manufacturers' warranty (comprising the 5 years or 150 000km warranty with a 2 year or 50 000km drivetrain warranty); a 5 year or 90 000km service plan; and 5 years or 150 000km roadside assistance.  

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