Hyundai Kona UK Launch Review
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The last few months has seen a raft of new compact SUVs go on sale in the UK. The latest manufacturer to join the fray is Hyundai. Its new Kona model follows hot on the heels of its sister vehicle the Kia Stonic, which I reviewed last month.
There are however plenty of differences, not least of which is the fact that the Kona sits on an all-new platform, which allows for the optional fitment of an all-wheel drive system and boasts the capability to accept full electric propulsion in the very near future.
Keen to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate the Kona’s adventurous spirit, Hyundai laid on an exciting programme for the UK Media Launch.
As well as a comprehensive road route, I was able to drive the Kona at speed on the beach near Porthmadog. I learnt very little from the sandy excursion, but was able to take some rather splendid photographs.
As the light faded, our next off-road adventure was to drive the Kona up normally closed tracks on the side of Mount Snowdon - an interesting experience without a doubt. The purpose soon became clear... The KONA 10 Challenge
The KONA 10 is a driving challenge of epic proportions from Hyundai. Adventurer Sophie Radcliffe was about to attempt to reach ten of the most iconic volcanic landscapes across the UK and Ireland in under 72 hours, in the Kona.
Sophie was aiming to drive as far as possible at each location, taking on routes that are normally not accessible to the public, to complete the challenge. When the car could go no further she would be on foot – running, walking, climbing or cycling to each location. The 72 hours would be non-stop, with Sophie catching some shut eye on ferries and in the back of the car before she hit the next volcano on the KONA 10 route.
The ten volcanic locations for The KONA 10 challenge were selected by Dr. Michael Scott who has dived into the history of human activity at each site. His research has shown how landscapes formed hundreds of millions of years ago have inspired and provided the location for incredible human achievements over the last several thousand years.
Having had the pleasure of dining with Sophie later that evening, it came as no surprise to find that this resilient and determined young lady competed the challenge set.
The day was rounded off with a night under canvas, which considering it was November was remarkably comfortable. At this point I should confess that the posh tents had comfortable mattresses and heating...
So what of the car itself? The design is certainly distinctive and a world away from the company’s more usual staid offerings. A sensible approach I would suggest, as buyers of this class of car are generally younger and are likely to consider design and image at least as important as driving characteristics.
As I have already mentioned, a fully electric Kona will grace our shores in the not too distant future. Also coming somewhat sooner will be diesel variants.
The choice at launch therefore is either a 1.0-litre turbocharged three cylinder engine boasting 120PS, front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox or a 177PS 1.6-litre four-cylinder motor with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The larger engine is only available in top Premium GT Trim and will cost from £24,995.
It is an easy car to drive, the gearbox shifting smoothly. It never feels as quick as the on paper 0 to 62mph sprint time of 7.9 seconds would suggest and the engine sounds course if fully extended. CO2 emissions are a heady 153g/km and combined economy an ordinary 42.2mpg.
Much preferred is the perky 1.0-litre motor which feels eager and keen to perform. It boasts far superior green credentials too (54.3mpg combined and 117 g/km CO2).
More importantly you can choose from four trim variants and prices start at a competitive £16,195.
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Hyundai expect most customers to spend and additional £1,300 for the ‘SE’ trim. Larger alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, roof rails and fog lamps and a 7” touchscreen are there to enjoy.
Add the same amount again for a ‘Premium’ model and you will find some attractive body addenda, climate control, keyless entry, a larger 8” touchscreen incorporating satellite navigation and a high-end Krell audio system.
‘Premium SE’ is the top model in 1.0-litre guise and costs from £21,195. Heated leather seats and a head-up display will be welcomed by those who expect big car features in a small package.
Customisation is important in this burgeoning sector and there is plenty of scope to personalise a Kona. Some bright metallic and pearlescent paint finishes are available and there are some contrasting roof colours available.
So what is the Kona like to drive? Accept that the three-cylinder engine is no ball of fire and there’s a little fun to be had. The Kona will ultimately understeer if pushed hard into a corner, but for the most part it corners with a little more spirit than some of its rivals.
Ride comfort is up to scratch with only the very worst stretches of tarmac disturbing the calm of the cabin. As is so often the case, the smaller the alloy wheel dimensions, the better the ride quality.
High speed cruising is a relaxed affair with wind and road noise pleasantly muted.
The interior boasts space for four reasonably sized adults to spread out and the boot offers 361-litres of space.
As an ownership proposition, the Kona is likely to shine. Undoubtedly well made, the Korean SUV should prove to be as reliable as other models in the manufacturer’s range and should the worse happen, there is a comprehensive five-year warranty to fall back on. I doubt you will need it.
I expect most Konas will be bought on PCP finance. Pick the SE model and with a deposit of £1,500 (plus a dealer contribution of £1,000) on a four year deal you can expect to pay around £206 per month (APR 4.9%).
Pop along to your nearest Hyundai dealer and take a look for yourself. You may not need to drive up the side of Snowden, but where it matters on the UK’s crowded streets, the Kona competes with the best in class.
Prices start at £16,195 rising to £24,995
120PS 1.0-litre 3 cylinder engine most popular
Front wheel drive & six-speed manual gearbox
0 to 62mph in 12 seconds
Combined economy 54.3mpg
Emissions 117g/km CO2
Optional 1.6-litre engine with 7-speed DCT gearbox
AWD standard and priced from £24,995
5-year comprehensive warranty
Hyundai Kona UK Launch Review, 14th November 2017, 22:46 PM