If you were to write a recipe for the perfect small SUV, then Hyundai appears to have followed that to the letter with its Kona. You can think of it as… a raised up i20 hatchback, which has got a high driving position, extra practicality, and the rugged looks that buyers are looking for in this market.
There’s no denying this is a crowded market, and the Kona finds itself
competing against rivals such as the SEAT Arona, Citroen C3 Aircross and Stonic from sister brand Kia, just to name a few.
Can Hyundai make its mark with the Kona then, or will it be lost in the crowd? In this video review we’ll take a look at that, as well as what it’s like to drive, and how easy it is to live with. Remember if you are thinking about buying one, go to What Car? New Car Buying, where we can help save you thousands.
First though, let’s see what it’s like on the road. The Kona’s engine range is refreshingly simple in that there are only two to choose from. The first, and the one we recommend, is the 1-litre petrol, which may seem like a very small engine to lug around the weight of an SUV. However, it gets up to motorway speeds without any problems, the only downside is that it is quite vocal, and sends some vibrations through the pedals.
The other engine option is a 175bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol, teamed with an automatic gearbox, and 4-wheel drive. Yes, it’s considerably faster, but it’s also considerably more expensive. When it comes to ride quality, the Kona isn’t as comfortable as rivals including the SEAT Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc, and you’ll feel most potholes and lumps in the road. For the best experience we recommend sticking with either, 16 or 17 inch wheels.
While the Kona isn’t especially agile through the corners, it does change direction remarkably well, there’s enough grip and it stays upright to feel pretty stable. If you’d like something that’s a little more engaging to drive through these twists and turns, then go for a SEAT Arona, and when it comes to the brakes… Well, they’re a little bit spongy, and not quite as sharp as we would like.
And at those motorway speeds the Kona generates more wind and road noise than the best in its class. You sit higher up in the Kona than youdo in the rival Arona, and it still doesn’t feel like a proper SUV. That said, the driving position is good, and there’s plenty of adjustment in the steering wheel and seat, so you should be able to get a comfortable driving position. Visibility is excellent thanks to the thin pillar, and deep windows, the only problem is looking out the back. Thanks to the chunky styling, it does hinder the rear visibility somewhat.
Although if you go for SE and above you do get rear parking sensors as standard, and a camera, and if you go for Premium SE you get front parking sensors. In terms of the overall look of the interior, this one is rather dull, although you can spec some customisation to jazz it up a little bit, in line with the bright colours of the exterior bodywork.
Trouble is, you only get those options on the top two trim levels. In terms of infotainment you get a 5-inch monochrome touchscreen as standard which comes with
DAB radio, and bluetooth connectivity. Upgrade to Premium and above and you get a 7-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Then if you’d like built-in sat-nav, go for the eight-inch touchscreen, which gets you an
upgraded stereo and a charging pad. There’s plenty of room in the front of the Kona, even if there’s not quite as much head and leg room as there is in the rival Arona. There’s also plenty of storage spaces, so we’ve got quite a large one here, which will accommodate a banana, and two cupholders. One, two, a little bit smaller, and decent-sized door bin. Aaaaand, the glovebox is a good size.
And somewhere for my phone. Move to the back seats and there’s not quite as much space as there is in some of its key rivals, in fact if you’re six-foot, you’ll probably find that your knees are rubbing against the seat in front. Headroom could be a bit of a compromise, but if you’re 5ft 4 1/2, like me, you’re absolutely fine. It’s a similar story with the Kona’s boot.
While you can just about squeeze a couple of carry-on suitcases, it is smaller than average for its class. On the plus side though, it does have a wide opening, and you can fold down the rear seats for those weekend trips to IKEA. The Kona is priced pretty much in the middle of the market so there are some more expensive rivals, but then, there some cheaper ones as well. We recommend the 1-litre petrol engine that we’ve got in this car, although CO2 emissions and MPG figure are not quite as good as you can find elsewhere, and this car won’t hold on to its value as well as some of its key
rivals either. Standard equipment on the Kona includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, and electric windows, but we think it’s worth upgrading to SE specification, which brings: a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, larger alloy wheels, automatic lights, rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Premium cars get luxury extras such as climate control, keyless entry and start, but at this point the Kona starts to look quite pricey.
In terms of safety equipment, there’s a plethora of airbags and lane-keeping assistance as standard, but you have to go for the range-topping Premium GT model if you’d like automatic emergency braking. It managed the full five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests, and performed better than rival SEAT Arona for child seat occupancy.