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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Hyundai iLoad Crew Van Liftback.

This Car Review Is About: a vehicle that doubles nicely as a passenger and commercial transport vehicle. The Hyundai iLoad is the cargo transport version of the dedicated passenger van called iMax. It comes with or without the passenger configuration. Or, if you will, the iMax is the passenger version of the iLoad…What Does It Cost: At the time of writing, Hyundai were listing the iLoad Crew at just over $48K driveaway. That includes a five year warranty or 160,000 kilometres, free first service, and 12 months of roadside assist up front. There is a 15,000 kilometre/12 month service schedule.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel and five speed auto for the iLoad Crew as tested. Peak torque is a whopping 441Nm however the PEAK figure is available through a very narrow rev band of 2,000 rpm through to 2,250rpm. There’s no lack of urge available under that 2,000rpm though. Economy is quoted as 8.8L per 100km for the combined cycle.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be. The two rows of cloth covered seats are separated from the 2,215L of cargo space by a fairly rigid barrier but was still prone to a squeak or two. The front seats are a 2+1 configuration, with the centre section featuring a folding backrest that doubles as a tray and cup holder. The driver has a one touch powered window for Down only, and for up it needs to be held. The windows in the sliding doors for the rear passengers are fold out and not that far either.Instrumentation is basic but functional here. The driver has a fully analogue needle set of dials and a basic but again functional monochrome LCD screen in the centre. This shows trip, odometer, and expected range, but we didn’t see a litres per kilometre display though. Headlights have an Auto on switch, the tiller houses the basic audio and cruise controls, and the wiper controls on the left are just a fingertip away during the rainy season.The dash console itself has a split level storage on the passenger side, a small nook in the centre for USB and 3.5mm auxiliary, a small pull out drawer lower down and a 12V socket.

The centre dash touchscreen is the same in that it’s basic to look at, works exactly as designed, and offers little in the way of fripperies. Audio is “old school” AM and FM, lacks DAB, but does have app access for Android Auto and Apple Carplay.The cargo section came lined with protective sheeting and cargo tie-down hooks.On The Outside It’s: received a mild facelift at the front compared to the original, slightly goggle-eyed, front. The headlights top line blends sweetly into the bottom of teh bonnet/top of the blacked-out grille. The rear is largely unchanged and there are no rear parking sensors.

The front brings the iLoad more into line with Kia’s Carnival with a more traditional passenger car and bonneted look. Headlights are more horizontally aligned and squared off, and this particular vehicle came with a nudge bar and super bright LED light bar. A tow bar was fitted at the rear. The rear gate isn’t powered but is easy enough to lift.Wheels and rubber were steel (with the review car having black painted alloys actually, wrapped in Hankook tyres) and 215/70/16 in size for the standard set, plus the spare is a full sizer.

Out On The Road It’s: A very pleasant drive. 100kmh to 110kmh sees revs at just under 1800rpm to 2000rpm. The commercial vehicle style rubber didn’t cope excessively well with the damp and wet conditions experienced during the review period.
On a flat road they would break traction, and on an uphill oriented curve would spin rather easily and bring in the traction control. As a result, some of the driving had to be dialled down in one particular section of a mountainous and curvy road. Front end grip wasn’t confidence inspiring and the taut, cargo carrying, rear end would feel on the verge of breaking away.

The steering was responsive on the softer front end, with the merest twitch seeing the nose respond.

However, a quarter turn was needed to see any real broadening of the movement, and even at around 40kmh into a reasonably easy left or right hander, depending on direction of travel, would understeer and require a foot lift, a dab of the brakes, before hitting the go pedal.

Actual off the line response was wonderful, with virtually no discernable turbo lag from the torque 2.5L engine, meaning dry road hookup was swift and without fuss. There is manual shifting but the ‘box is good enough to not really need it. It’s also a little more sensitive than others in that the brake pedal had to be firmly held in order for the gear selector button to depress.
There was a real sense of refinement to the driveline too. A muted engine noise, super crisp changes in the five speed auto, and almost instant throttle response were dampened, at times, by the road noise from the tyres and body.

At The End Of The Drive.
Although it’s effectively a commercial vehicle that just happens to seat six, there’s just enough to make it a very enjoyable family car if the iMax is out of the budget range. Proper passenger tyres, usage of the smartphone apps, and perhaps some custom built container spaces for shopping in the rear, and there’s a people mover hiding in plain sight.

The engine and gearbox make for a great pairing, and it’s not thirsty by any measure. Check it out at the Hyundai website

Hyundai’s Tucson Refreshed And Updated.

Hyundai Australia has released details of the 2020 refresh for the Tucson range. There is a four trim level choice and that’s courtesy of the addition of the Active entry level model. Active X, Elite, and Highlander are the others. There are upgrades to the safety systems, exterior and interior updates, and minor changes to pricing.

Active and Active X can be specced with a six speed manual transmission and are priced at $29,290 and $32,290, or with a six speed auto will be $31,790 and $34,790 respectively. Power comes from a 2.0L petrol engine, and prices are before government and dealership charges. Tucson Elite dips out on the manual but can be ordered with the 2.0L and auto for $37,850.

Move up to the 1.6L turbo four, seven speed dual clutch auto, and all wheel drive system, and Elite & Highlander price out at $40,850 and $46,500 respectively. Turn to the oiler, and that’s a 2.0L capacity unit driving all wheels through an eight speed auto. Hyundai offer that in all grades and prices are $37,090, $40,090, $43,150, $48,800 respectively. Premium paint is a $595 option and to call upon the nicely styled beige interior is $295.Safety is upgraded courtesy of a rear park assist system being added to the Active. Hyundai’s SmartSense package is standard here and in the Active X which includes Driver Alert Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with a City/Urban camera system, Forward Collision Warning and Rear Park Assist. Alloy wheels are standard across all four models with the Active and Active X getting 17s and 18s respectively. The Active has a driver’s window up/down on-touch switch in addition.

The Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, (FCA) in City/Urban works from a windshield-mounted camera reading the road ahead. Should it “feel” that a collision is possible, the Forward Collision Warning System will make a noise and show a signal in the driver’s information cluster. It’s a system that works between 8 kmh and up to 180kmh. Forward Collision Avoidance Avoidance Assist – City Urban pairs up with FCW to hit the stop pedal automatically if the system judges no human intervention after an alert. This works between 8kmh and 65kmh. Elite and Highlander gain radar sensors to complement the camera and Hyundai extend the name to City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian. At speeds of between 10kmh and 80kmh the package brings the car to a complete halt.

Specification levels increase in sophistication as the range moves from Active to Highlander. Items such as rear camera, DAB audio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are common throughout. Active X has leather appointed seats, for example, and some electrically powered adjustment for the driver’s seat. The Tucson Elite has a cooling system for the glovebox, rain sensing wipers, and puddle lamps. The Highlander has a powered tailgate, and a wireless charging pad, plus bending LED headlights.
All models have the very handy Hyundai AutoLink, with the Highlander available via a SIM based connection. The other three connect via Bluetooth. This provides information such as driving analysis, driving history, contact with Hyundai dealers to book a service, and in the Highlander, real time weather updates, remote access to start/stop, and remote access to the climate control system, amongst other features. Hyundai also entice owners to have their Tucson serviced at a Hyundai dealership by including a ten year satnav upgrade plan and a ten year roadside assist plan.
Contact your dealer for a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Diesel.

This Car Review Is About: A big, comfortable, and very well equipped vehicle from Kia. The top of the range Sorento GT-Line is a diesel powered seven seater that lacks for very little to appeal to those needing a SUV that isn’t intended to be an off-roader. The Sorento range is powered by either a 3.5L V6 or a 2.2L diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.2L diesel for the GT-Line. It’s a quiet chatterer thanks to a mix of refinement and noise insulation in the engine bay and under the aluminuim bonnet. 147kW is available at 3,800rpm, and a whopping 441Nm of torque on tap between 1,750 rpm and 2,750 rpm. It’s a great long distance hauler, with an easy, loping attitude thanks to a freeway speed ticking the engine over at around 1,500 rpm. Kia quote 6.1L/100km for the highway cycle and this was bettered, albeit by 0.1L/100km. Overall economy, driven mainly in the urban jungle, finished at 8.2L/100km, with Kia’s urban cycle quoted as 9.2L/100km. Transmission is an eight speed auto putting that power and torque down via the front wheels, with torque split to the rear on demand. There is also a diff-lock for the rare excursions into a bit of mud or dirt.What Does It Cost?: $58,990 plus on road costs and metallic paint. That’s just $595. Capped price servicing applies for the seven years of warranty, with a yearly service or 15,000 kilometres. the most expensive service is year 4 at $684. At the time of writing Kia are doing runout deals for the Sorento range.On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the third row the delightfully simple pull-strap design. A gentle tug, a pull of the strap backwards to lift the seats, or a tug and gentle push to lower them, and it’s something nearly all makers now use. The centre row is bordering on ideal for three adults, it’s certainly fine for two growing children. The left seat is set up to be slid to allow entry for the rear seats, and both centre seats are sliding & folding. The driver has an eight way powered seat, with the front pews heated, vented, and the driver having a heated tiller. Leather seats are a bit cold to touch in the cooler climes however the heaters take the edge off, but the rate of heating could be improved for a more rapid response.The dash is typical Kia but starting to show its age in one area. Manufacturers have moved to the touchscreen being raised up in its own plinth. This is for safety as it’s closer to the driver’s eyeline and not looking downwards. The screen here is super clean, intuitive, and is DAB/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible. The DAB tuner has the same issues as the other Kias tested recently, with inconsistent signal acquisition and dropout. The plastics in the Sorento are of an almost leather look and have a fine grained finish to them. Open the front doors and Sorento glows a soft red at night in the sills.The dash display itself lacks a HUD but the dial for the speed is fully digital. It also shows which drive mode the driver has selected from the four available: Smart, Eco, Normal, and Sport. A centre screen section shows info such as range, driving distance, trip meter and economy.Auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, rear camera and guidelines, plus 360 degree camera are part of the interior fitment and everything is precisely laid out, showing Kia is well on top of the human engagement part of interior design. The Sorento also comes with a full length glass roof.On the Outside: It’s refinement, refinement, refinement. Compared to a Sorento design of, say, a dozen years ago, it’s recognisable as part of the family but obviously a modern design in its own right. It’s a two box design, with a bonnet that dips towards the imposing Schreyer “Tiger Nose” grille, whilst the body behind the windscreen has a smooth silhouette with a slightly odd angle for the rear window/tailgate. The tail gate is powered, of course.

There are LED driving lights, LED tail lights, LED headlights and are self levelling. Kia calls them Dynamic Bending Lights. It’s a big vehicle with a physically imposing presence too. Length is 4,800mm, width is 1,890mm, height is 1,690mm with roof rails. Wheelbase is 2,780mm and virtually joined by the GT-Line’s sidesteps. But with just 185mm of ground clearance it’s certainly not anything other than a soft-roader.Wheels for the GT-Line Sorento are 19 inch alloys and wrapped in 235/55 rubber from Kumho. Thankfully Kia also fit a full sized spare here, not the restrictive space saver spare.What About Safety?: Kia load the GT-Line with the supreme pizza, free drink, and free delivery, it’s that packed. All Sorentos have the mandated electronic aids such as stability control, traction control, and the like. Kia also add the Euro inspired Emergency Stop Signal which flash the indicators when the brake pedal is pressed harder than normal. AEB and Forward Collision Warning is standard through the range as is Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Alert, which would, annoyingly, tell a driver to have a break after just thirty minutes of driving.

Where the GT-Line goes further is Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Where it doesn’t go further is by having six airbags, not a driver’s knee airbag.

Out On The Road It’s:
a superbly relaxed highway cruiser. That low revving engine and where the torque figure comes in makes for a low stressed package. It’s mostly a responsive engine to, mostly. Unusually, the engine in the review car showed measurable turbo lag and in the scheme of things it was a considerable amount. Start the car, move along to a junction, wait to clear traffic, press the pedal and…..there’s a yawning gap before it suddenly sprints forward, rather than moving away in a linera fashion. That linear fashion is shown though when under way, where the response is spot on.

Roll downhill and the transmission will quietly downshift with barely any physical sensation at all. There’s a flicker of the needle on the rev counter, a slight change to the muted chatter from up front, and the engine is well within its useable torque range. In the highway cycle and with the throttle feathered, there’s hardly any indication of the engine working, with the tacho sitting at around 1,500rpm. Give the go pedal a nudge and the chatter goes up in volume but is not intrusive. Road noise, though, on the coarser chip surfaces, was.

Handling is predictable, wit the front end tending toward a hint of understeer in normal driving. Back off the throttle and it’s easily controllable, bringing the nose back in nicely. The steering itself is well balanced but a touch numb, leaving the driver feeling a touch isolated from what’s happening. Go for the stop pedal and there’s more communication here, with a centimetres of dead travel before a progressive descent where the right foot can judge exactly how much pressure to apply.The suspension is well sorted, naturally, with a flat ride, minimal body roll, and dampers that bring the chassis to a controilled state swiftly. Go hard into a corner and the body remains unflustered, poised, and under hard braking there is is dive, but again it’s minimal. The ride overall is supple, compliant, and makes those shopping centre carparks a minor annoyance.

At the End Of the Drive.
Kia’s Sorento is the sister vehicle to Hyundai’s Santa Fe, and the Sorento, as good as it is, is now showing its age inside. Kia’s DAB tuner supplier also needs some work, as other companies have far better tuners. However it’s still fantastic value, a great drive, well featured, and economical. It does look as if a new Sorento isn’t far off as Kia are doing run-out deals at the moment. Head here for more info: 2019 Kia Sorento range

Private Fleet Car Review: Holden Trax LS Turbo

This Car Review Is About: the Holden Barina based SUV called the Trax. This review is on the LS spec with turbo engine. It’s part of a three trim level range (LS, LT, LTZ) with all but one the 1.4L turbo. The range starts with a LS and 1.8L and is priced at $23,990 plus on roads. At the time of writing the LS 1.4L was available at $24,490 driveaway.The Engine Produces: 103kW and 200Nm, plus a figure of 6.7L per 100 kilometres (combined) from a 53L tank filled with 91RON. Our final figure in an urban drive was 8.3L/100km. Drive is through the front wheels and a six speed auto.On The Inside It’s: a reasonably comfortable place to be. Cloth seats are snug and although fully manual are easy to adjust. The doors open wide enough to make getting onto the seats a doddle too. Because it’s a compact machine, at 4,264mm long and a 2,555mm wheelbase, leg room for the rear seat is adequate at 907mm, not startling and dependent on the front pews not being occupied by taller people. Front leg room is fine for all but the the giants, at 1037mm. Shoulder and hip room is also adequate and front seat head room is great at 1,005mm. The Trax helps the front seat passengers by not having a centre console storage bin, just a standard cup holder style.Barina origins mean the dash is the asymmetrical look found in that car. There’s a old-style looking LCD screen to the right, the speedometer dial in the centre, and the fuel and rev counter on the left. It’s a simple looking unit and as a result offers nothing more than what you see, except for the LCD’s switchable info screens operated from the right hand side of the tiller.The dash itself is Euro styled, with the current sweep around in an arch from door to door running at the base of the windscreen. It’s a finer looking plastic and visually more appealing than that found in the Arcadia. Faux alloy rims the air vents at each end, forms a U-loop for the centre display and vents, and highlights the steering wheel arms and centre stack verticals. The aircon controls in the LS are dials, meaning the temperature can be adjusted finitely but airflow isn’t as finely controlled. These sit above a small nook that has USB/3.5mm/12V sockets.

Audio is AM/FM only, with no DAB, which is increasingly seen in the Trax’s opposition. Smartphone mirroring in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here.On the Ouside: It’s a strong resemblance to the Barina, if more a breathe in and hold look. It’s ovoid in the overall design, with curves everywhere especially on the front and rear flanks. 215/60/17 tyres and wheels underpin those curves. Up front are integrated LED driving lights that curl nicely around the outsides of the clusters. Driving lights are in their own housings at each corner of the lower front bumper. Out back is a manual tail gate, with an opening to just enough room to get a week’s shopping into, with 387L expanding to 1270L with the 60/40 rear pews folded.

Tail lights are a triple layered affair and blend nicely with the bulbous rear guards. There’s also a resemblance, in a way, to the Trailblazer and Colorado up front, and nothing at all in respect to the Equinox and Acadia. There are eight colours to choose from, including the Absolute Red the test car was painted in.

On The Road It’s: Missing something. It’s not a big machine, and the 1.4L isn’t an outright powerhouse, but 200NMm comes on stream at 1,850Nm. Performance, what there is of it, is blunted, muted, initially First impressions were that the tyres were under-pressured, dragging back the LS Trax. It simply didn’t feel as lively, as exuberant, as it should have. It takes a while to feel as if there’s something living under the bonnet. Get to around 1/3rd travel of the go-pedal and once the revs are above 2,000 the hidden life of the engine is revealed.

Suspension is short travel and tight, to the point the Trax would cock a rear corner in certain situations. None of those were at anything more than 10kmh, thankfully. It’s an odd sensation but it pointed towards the ride and handling the Trax LS had. Smooth on smooth roads, jiggly and unsettled on unsettled roads, tracks straight and true otherwise. The front is a tad softer than the rear though and this helps in the front end’s tracking nicely. It’s a slightly numb steering feel, prone to understeer, but it’s predictable, controllable, telegraphing just where the pert nose will go with no chance of misinformation being sent to the driver.What also isn’t sent to the driver is the Acadia’s vibrating seat platform should the onboard sensors detect anything the system deems worthy of sending a signal to the vibrating seat. That’s a long way of saying that the driver is better equipped to deal with driving situations in front of them because they’re not momentarily distracted by a seat going crazy beneath them.

Steering is well weighted and the brakes are also well balanced, with extra bite over the 1.8L that comes with drum rears. the turbo four has discs.

What About Safety?: No AEB, and the LTZ is the only one that gets Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert. all three do get a lo-res reverse camera, six airbags, and the mandated driver aids and Hill Start Assist.

The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres, with three years free scheduled servicing.At The End of the Drive.
The Holden Trax is apparently due for an update in 2020. It needs it and needs it badly. Not because it’s an unpleasant car, far from it. However when up against cars in the same sphere, it’s immediately dated. Holden’s Traxis available here.

 

Genesis: Reborn.

Hyundai has relaunched its sub-brand, Genesis. There are two models, the G70 and G80, and Sydney city now has a storefront in Pitt Street where prospective customers can visit and view. The G70 comes with a choice of two engines and three model grades, the G80 in 3.8 and 3.8 Ultimate.
The G70 offers a 2.0L turbo four, and comes in 2.0T, 2.0T Sport, and the top of the line 2.0T Ultimate, with 179kW and 353Nm. There is a V6 version too, with the 3.3-litre twin-turbo powerplant in 3.3T Sport, ultra-luxurious 3.3T Ultimate, and the 3.3T Ultimate Sport, which combines the features of Ultimate with Sport styling. Transmission is an eight speed auto, spun by a 272kW/510Nm 3.3L V6.
Pricing for the G70 starts at $59,300 and there’s an astounding amount of standard equipment for the price. Along with the Australian fettled suspension, there’s the Genesis Active Safety Control driver assistance system and Genesis Connected Services, hands free boot opening and an instrument cluster with a 7.0 inch digital display. The front seats are heated and powered for 12-way adjustment, the infotainment system is accessed via an 8.0 inch screen, and features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, plus DAB. There is also a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones.
Level up to the Sport and Brembo comes on board for the stoppers. Up front will be four pistons and the rear has two. They’ll be inside 19 inch alloys and rubber comes from Michelin. The Ultimate has vented front seats with 16 positions, Nappa leather, memory positions for the driver’s pew, heating for the steering wheel which is on a powered column, and sections of the rear seats. Extra tech in the form of a HUD, 360 degree viewing, a powerful 15 speaker sound system from Harman Kardon, and adaptive headlights. G70 3.3T variants feature Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension, a Variable Gear Ratio steering rack, and Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control.
The bigger G80 starts at $68,900. The Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension is standard, along with nine airbags and the Genesis Active Safety Control suite. A 9.2 inch high definition touchscreen pumps sounds through a 17 speaker Lexicon by Harman system, and will have the wireless charge pad, surround view monitor, LED headlights, a driver’s seat with memory positioning and powered steering column and the Genesis Connected Services setup. 19 inch wheels are standard on the $88,900 Ultimate. Nappa leather is inside, and both front and rears seats are heated/vented. Access to the interior is via soft-close powered doors. The tiller is heated and the driver also has a HUD. Ignition is kicked off by a Smart Key card. Spend an extra $4,000 and both inside and out gains enhancements. The standard G80 also offers a panoramic sunroof as a $3,000 option.
Power for the G8 is courtesy of a 3.8L V6 pumping 232kW and 397Nm. Drive modes are Normal, Eco, Sport, and Snow. Transmission is an eight speed auto. The Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension or GACS incorporates Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC) and Electronic Control Suspension (ECS) which has dampers continually reading the road and adjusting up to 100 times per second the compression and rebound settings.
Warranty is five years, unlimited kilometres, with five year 24/7 roadside assist, a complimentary service offering of five year/50,000 kilometres, five years map updates, and five years subscription to the Genesis Connected Services. There is a new offering in regards to ordering and delivery. The Genesis To You service brings: A test-drive home-delivery service, industry-first online build and order with haggle-free, fixed pricing plus a concierge pick-up and delivery for scheduled servicing, with a complimentary courtesy car. There is a personalised handover service on delivery. Head to The Genesis website for info.

Kia Loses Its Soul, Finds Its Seltos Instead.

Kia has released more details of its compact SUV to be called Seltos. Due for sale in the second half of 2019, the Seltos replaces the Soul but has strong familial looks to the outgoing car and more than a hint of SsangYong Tivoli. To be built in both India and Korea, the Seltos is said to be a showcase car of technology. Featuring a 10.25 inch touchscreen as the centrepiece inside, it has the ability to show a split screen and customize the screen to display up to three applications simultaneously. The driver, therefore, can choose to have a single display (such as navigation) or combine different elements on-screen.

Seltos will add in new feature lighting and an optional Sound Mood Lighting system, which will emit soft light from panels in the doors. This includes a unique 3D-patterned surface on the door panels. The Sound Mood Lighting system will pulse in time to the beat of music playing through the audio system and will allow a user to program from eight customisable colours and six themes to illuminate the cabin. The Seltos will also offer the UVO CONNECT telematics system. As more and more makers move into interconnectivity, UVO CONNECT blends the usage of smartphones and the car’s touchscreen.

Part of the technology brings live data such as traffic flow and information, weather updates, and something to look at in a points of interest for a good country drive, for example. An app will back this feature up, with data from trips and news about the Seltos itself. The UVO system is free to users for the first three years, and includes stolen vehicle notification and tracking, safety alerts, auto collision notification and emergency assistance. Sounds come from a Bose 8 speaker system and the driver has an 8.0 inch HUD for instant information in the eyeline.

Power is courtesy of three engines. A naturally aspirated 110kW of 2.0L, a turbo 1.6L with 130kW, and a diesel to produce 100kW from 1.6L will be available elsewhere with the Australian market to receive the turbo petrol and standard petrol. The 2.0L will drive a CVT and will be front wheel drive, with the turbo petrol an all wheel drive and seven speed dual clutch auto. Naturally the Eco/Normal/Sport modes will be standard.
The body itself share the same stocky stance as the Soul; there’s a steeply raked windscreen sitting behind a bluff and solid looking nose with Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille and LED lights for the front and rear. Turn signal lamps have a deep 3D design and even the fog lamps are LED. The actual design is intended to show off a sense of assertiveness. This is emphasised by a solid shoulder line and character lines on the bonnet. Depending on model, the wheels and tyres are high-grip 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18 tyres.
Contact Kia to prebook your test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Tivoli ELX

This Car Review Is About: SsangYong’s Tivoli. SsangYong is the quiet third of a three tier car making setup from Korea. Nestled well below Hyundai and Kia, SsangYong currently have a three model range, and the Tivoli is the entry level to the brand. The Tivoli itself is based on the Kia Soul and is badged as EX, ELX, and Ultimate.
The ELX is a solid mid-level competitor in a very crowded market. Being based on the quirky looking Soul isn’t a bad thing either. SsangYong’s designers have done a good job of hiding the relationship with a heavily reworked interior and exterior. There’s no hiding that steeply raked windscreen though.Power Comes From: Behind the bluff and upright schnozz that hides a diesel or petrol powerplant. Our test car had the 1.6L diesel, a slightly chattery but butter smooth item. There’s a huge 300Nm of torque on tap between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. Peak power is just 85kW and is available from 3,400rpm to 4,000rpm. The diesel comes in 2WD or AWD for the Ultimate, and is a six speed auto only for the oiler. Economy is, unsurprisingly, pretty good for the pert little five door. Urban driving is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the 2WD version. We saw a best of 7.6L/100km in the urban cycle. Combined is 5.5L/100km and that’s without the realms of possibility. Tank size compromises range though, at just 47-L.What’s It Cost?: The range starts at a miserly $22,990 driveaway for the EX, without premium paint. It’s $27,990 driveaway for the ELX diesel auto, with premium paint an extra $495. Outside one can choose six colours, the test car was Space Black. Inside there are three choices with black overall, brown (mocha coffee shade), and beige. The trim is on the seats and the doors.

What Does It Look Like?: Overall, the presence is restrained from the outside, innocuous even. The front end is very SsangYong family in look, with LED eyebrow driving lights in a swept back cluster design. The lower air intake surround is a horizontal “double Y” with black urethane underneath joining the front and rear. The tail end itself is a look that evokes the MINI Countryman’s styling and a bold C pillar joins the top to the bottom.It’s compact in size to look at. Length is 4,202mm, height is 1,600mm with roof rails, and overall width is 1,798mm. What these numbers mean is good interior space for the 1,480kg (dry) Tivoli.
There’s some good looks inside too. The dash is the current Euro themed arch-type sweep from door top to door top and in the black-on-black it looks ok. The dash’s look is a mix of black textured plastics. There is a faux stitched look, a hood style binnacle, and piano black centre stack.This holds the aircon controls which are soft-touch buttons. An old-school amber backlit display screen sits above a dominant fan speed dial. Unlike most other manufacturers, SsangYong haven’t gone down the path of a standalone touchscreen for the audio/satnav, with the Korean make staying with an embedded look here. Again there is no DAB and that peculiar predilection to have one radio station sound like a skipping record.The driver faces a binnacle that has bright red backlit dials. These can be changed to five other backlights such as blue and yellow for that extra bit of personalisation. A monochrome centre screen shows wheel angle when parked. This is presumably to remind a driver which way they’re pointing when getting ready to move on.
Splashes of alloy look plastic add some colour to the black trimmed option. The seats are comfortable and not heated or vented in the ELX.
There’s the usual apps for the sound system, storage spaces front and rear, and a good amount of cargo space at the rear. There is a pair of 12V sockets, one up front and one for the rear.
Safety is high. AEB is standard, as are warning systems for forward collision and lane keeping. Australia doesn’t get the Euro spec traffic sign recognition system…yet.

What’s It Go Like?
It’s a hoot to punt around. There’s the barest hint of hesitation in the diesel from a standing start. The turbo very quickly spools up and there’s a rapid, smooth, but slightly noisy launch. The engine is a real old-school chatterer under load but there is no sense of vibration is any form. The gearbox is the same. It’s super quiet, super smooth, and rarely proved indecisive in its cog-swapping.

Off the throttle the engine is whisper quiet. There is a minimal amount of road and wind noise whilst coasting, and it’s again only when the go pedal gets the ask that the engine gets noticed. Mid range urge is sensational given the size of the engine. It’s relatively effortless in how it performs when compared to bigger cars with bigger engines. Ride is on the hard side however. The 205/60/16 from Kumho provide plenty of grip but that highish sidewall doesn’t do much in the way of aiding the suspension’s absorption. The spring and damper rates are almost adequate for smaller bumps but hit a traffic calmer at anything other than walking pace and it’s kapow.The rear corners will even “cock a leg” when in tight turns or at odd angles coming in and off some driveways. The upside is how it goes on the freeways. Undulating surfaces don’t exist, stability is high in windy conditions, and the steering, adjustable via a drive mode button, is well weighted. It’s responsive and ratioed so understeer is also kept to a minimum. As a driving package it’s far better than expected.
Warranty Is? Seven years. That’s also with unlimited kilometres, from front to rear. Srvices are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of the Drive: It’s a real shame that this quiet achiever is due to be discontinued. Although the forthcoming Korando promises to be just as good, the Tivoli could be kept as an alternative addition, much like many Euro makers seem to offer nowadays. And it’s at a price and trim point that would be a good alternative to quite a few others. And the Tivoli has just had an addition to the range in the form of the long wheelbase XLV.

Here is how you can find out more.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Cerato GT Sedan & Cerato Sport Hatch

This Car Review Is About: The latest offerings from the long running Cerato range, specifically the restyled sedan and hatch bodies, in GT and Sport trim. There is the S, Sport, Sport Plus, and GT. The S and Sport can be optioned with a Safety Pack.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of a turbocharged 1.6L driving a seven speed dual clutch auto in the GT, against a 2.0L non-turbo and six speed standard auto for the Sport and S. The GT gets the powerhouse 150kW turbo which delivers 265Nm of twist across a flat 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm “torque curve”. The Sport has a very good 2.0L, with 112kW and 192Nm at 4,000rpm. The S is the only version with a manual six speed available.Economy for the pair is tight; the bigger engine is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the combined cycle, with the turbo 1.6L at 6.8L/100km. Our highway drives saw 5.8L/100km for the 1.6L Cerato GT sedan, the Cerato Sport hatch clocked a 6.9L/100km. Overall activity saw 7.4L/100 for the hatch as a final average on its return, with the sedan at 7.1L/100km. That’s running regular unleaded from a 50L tank.

What Do They Cost?: Kia says $32,990 plus on-roads for the GT sedan, $25,790 plus ORC for the Sport hatch, and if you opt for the Sport+, that’s $28,840 plus ORC. There are ten colours available, with the GT getting its own Sunset Orange shade. Paints classified as Metallic or Pearl are a $520 option.On The Outside Is: A choice of a sleek sedan or a sleek hatch. They’re essentially the same until the rear of the rear doors, and the hatch has a manual tail gate, a more pronounced taper to the rear roof line, and BMW-esque LED tail lights. Essentially, as the GT has a full suite of LEDs for both headlights and DRLs, whereas the Cerato Sport Plus has normal headlights and LEDs for the daytime running lights. Both ends, though, have the indicator lamps set below a driver’s line of sight, rather than being up in the head and tail light clusters.

The GT also has specific wheels and tyres. 225/40/18s with Michelin rubber wrap ten dual-spoke design alloys. The Sport has 225/45/17 alloys of a similar yet different design. The spare is a temporary sized one with a steel rim.Overall dimensions show just how big a modern small/medium sedan is. At 4,640mm in length, they’re bigger than the legendary EH Holden, which was 4,511mm. The Cerato’s height is 1,440mm except for the GT which is 5mm lower. The blocky EH stood 1,478mm. Where the classic Holden won was on weight. At 1,118kg it’s 200kg to 250kg lighter than the Ceratos.

There’s a couple of other minor differences too; the Sport Plus gets body coloured wing mirror covers, whilst the GT has high gloss black covers. Both have heating for the mirrors. The GT has twin chrome tipped exhausts, and the Sport Plus a single well pipe. There’s also a slight difference between the sedan and the hatch when it comes to opening the boot lid. There is a release button on the key fob, and a lever inside. But there is not a tab on the bootlid to open the boot. Once open there’s another design hiccup. The rear seats don’t have a shoulder mounted seat release mechanism. To flip the seats in the sedan the boot must be opened, a boot mounted lever puller for either the left or right hand seat, then it’s back to the rear seats to actually fold them down. The hatch does away with this ridiculous idea by having a boot-lid mounted tab. On the Inside Is: A surprisingly low toned interior. The GT is black upon black, having only subtle red piping on the seats and alloy look plastics around the gear selector, air vents and dash strip, central steering wheel spoke, and door handles, to break up the black. Under the driver’s foot is alloy pedals in the GT. The Sport Plus as tested had a similar look to the dash but had a lighter shade of material from the doors upwards and a charcoal/grey cloth trim to the seats. The GT’s driver holds a flat bottomed steering wheel.

Actual plastics look and feel is cheapish. There’s little, if anything, to differentiate the upper echelon cars from the base model S in this respect, plus there’s a distractingly high level of upper dash reflectivity into the windscreen. The driver’s binnacle display is fully analogue and has a monochrome display screen, not colour. Sound comes from a six speaker system in the Sport Plus, an eight speaker setup in the GT, with DAB tuners across the range plus the now almost seemingly mandatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus Bluetooth.There are four cup, and four bottle, holders in the cabin. Just the driver gets a one touch up/down window switch. The GT gets a wireless smartphone charging pad and it’s a slightly tricky design. A small bump in the plastic on the left hand side will stop a phone from being charged properly if it’s not placed in the holder correctly. There’s a pair of USB ports and a single 12V socket up front as well.

As is the norm now, a touchscreen of 8.0 inches in measurement, and a simple one to use at that, is mounted up high on the dash. Default look is map and audio side by side. As is Kia’s wont, the interface is intuitive and makes using the various functions, and changing settings, fuss free.

On The Road It’s: Not quite chalk and cheese. The turbo in the GT is a firecracker, with verve, fizz, fire and brimstone, belying the 265Nm, as it feels as if there are more. The dual clutch transmission is beautifully matched and the performance potential is huge. Surprisingly, the 2.0L seemed not far off the pace in regards to response and driveability. The smaller engine is a free spirited and easily spun unit however the 2.0L in the Sport was nearly as easy going in how it moved the analogue needle around the dial. The more traditionally oriented six speed auto was nearly as slick and smooth, but simply couldn’t match the bang-bang nature of the dual-clutch in cog swapping.Get and go in both is very good, with the torque spread of the GT’s engine making for a harder run from a standing start. There’s real excitement from the driveline as a straight line run sees the freeway limit reached in what feels like just a breath. The Sport’s 2.0L pulled hard too but in a side by side comparison would be noticeably behind. The dual-clutch also exhibited a trait peculiar to this kind of transmission. Anything from a mild press of the go pedal upwards has the brains of the ‘box working fine, go a little softer, or change from Reverse to Drive, and there’s that customary pause as the brains figure out exactly what the transmission is supposed to do before actually doing so.Handling on both was neutral; the weight of the steering in both was excellent and allowed for a clean judgement of how much input was required to have the nose go where it was desired. On one particular corner the front end would run wide but only at a certain speed and was easily brought back to a controllable level with a back-off and a brush of the brakes. Highway driving has the pair change directions nimbly and the steering & engine choices, left in the default Eco mode, was never needed to be in anything other than that. The GT has a Smart mode which runs between Sport/Eco/Comfort, and effectively learns on the fly as well, helping the on board computers to adapt to an individual driving style.

Ride quality definitely tends towards the harder style yet the GT’s 18 inch rubber doesn’t crash through to the cabin at all. The Australian fettled suspension is well sorted, with work performed on the sophisticated multi-link independent system going to a specific sports tune all-round Braking is superb with the front brake discs growing in size from 280mm to 305mm, making braking a sensory experience and providing millimetre perfect judgement. The Sport lacked little here too, with its braking setup virtually on par. The Sport also has a softer ride setup, and perhaps one that more buyers would choose over the tauter GT for around-town driving.

GT stands for Grand Tourer and so it is with the sedan really showing its mettle on longer runs. The very nature of the torque deliver and the responsiveness of the seven speed DCT suits a good punt and taken westwards along the Great Western Highway, and eastwards on the freeways towards Sydney show what a beautifully setup long distance driver it is. In seventh geqar and barely off idle in cruise mode, the GT is a delight. The Sport’s sixth gear takes the rev point higher and it’s here that the slight coarseness of the 2.0L becomes apparent. It’s not harsh, just noticeable that it’s not quite as turbine smooth or quiet.Of a final note is the aural extension of the engine note into the cabin for the GT. It’s a throaty and rorty sound, not unlike a worked over flat four. But it’s a generated sound, and played via the sound system. It’s a matter of personal taste and unfortunately not one that can be deactivated.

Safety Features Are: strong, naturally. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking, with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist are standard. Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, are also standard.

What About Warranty and Service?: Standard seven years, unlimited kilometres, and capped priced servicing, as per the information here.

At The End of the Drive. Kia has come a HELLUVA long way in the twelve years since AWT was selling cars alongside the brand’s then new cars. The level of technology, safety, the designs, and the change from a non-turbo range to the inclusion of a genuine sports oriented range, such as the Cerato GT, put Kia into a stronger position in the marketplace than it was a decade ago. In an increasingly competitive sales area, the Cerato GT stands out as one to choose from a drivers’ perspective. The Sport is the one for an around town lifestyle. The sedan and hatch have further information available.

 

 

Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition.

This Car Review Is About: Hyundai’s funky little SUV called the Kona. They’ve gone a little rogue here and given the world a limited edition, 400 vehicle, “Iron Man” version, complete with body styling that evokes the Iron Man look, and a couple of nifty interior changes too. It’s powered by the 1.6L turbo engine, has a seven speed dual clutch auto, and puts drive mainly to the front but will split torque to the rear on demand.

What Does It Cost?: Hyundai list it as $39,990 plus on road costs. That’s $990 more than the Highlander with the same engine spec.And What Do I get For That?: There is some visual highlights for the Iron Man Edition. Inside there is a Tony Stark signature on the rippled plastic in front of the passenger, a Stark Industries style logo for the top of the gear selector and in the driver binnacle dials. There is a Head Up Display fitted and it plays a stylised graphic on engine start. The seats have an Iron Man head and Stark Industries logo embossed into the faux leather and the doors shine a Iron Man head puddle lamp. Outside is a bit more. There is Iron Man badging aplenty, with the front of the headlight holder having it embossed into the plastic, an Iron Man centre wheel cap, the Marvel logo on the bonnet which has also been redesigned in shape, plus the letterbox slot above the main grille has a red insert with Iron Man here. There is an Iron Man badge on the front flanks and the guards have been pumped with extra cladding.The bottom of the doors have the brilliant metallic red from the Iron Man suit with the silver inlays, and the exhaust tips in the lower rear bumper have a similar motif. the tail lights are full LED and the rear gate has Iron Man on the grab handle. The LED driving lights have a similar look to aspects of the Iron Man suit and the roof, also in red, has a dark grey Iron Man logo which complements the dark grey semi-matte coating for the body and the Stark Industries logo on the rear doors.On the Inside Is: a mix of Highlander trim and lower trim level looks. Although the seats are perforated they are not vented nor heated. The centre console around the gear selector lacks the buttons found in the Highlander and has red piping highlights. It does carry over the drive mode for Sport/Eco/Comfort, and has a lock system for the AWD. The vents have red piping highlights also and the actual aircon controls are the same as Highlander’s. There are the usual audio and smartphone connections via the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps and USB, but the Highlander’s wireless charge pad is deleted. The driver’s seat is powered and there is memory seating. As mentioned before there is a HUD. Internal measurements are identical to the rest of the range.

Where Hyundai could have lifted the interior look is on the dash. The plastics could have been replaced by a higher tech look, perhaps a silver sheen material reflecting that found outside and on the Iron Man suit itself.

On the Outside Is: As also mentioned, some distinctive changes to the body work. Hankook supplies the 235/45 tyres on the multispoke alloys that have red plates attached. The LED driving lights are subtly restyled from the Kona range and the view from the front also shows the lower air intake is different to the rest in the range. The colour scheme is distinctive, of course, and the paint is the type that is best wiped down and certainly not suitable for polishing.

On the Road It’s: Happily far better to drive than the 2.0L with six speed auto. It’s a 1.6L turbo four that’s essentially the same as that found in the firecracker Kia Cerato GT. There is 130kW of peak power, and that’s at 5,500rpm. Peak torque of 265Nm is available between 1,500rpm and 4,500rpm. The seven speed dual clutch auto is mostly a delight to have along with the 1.6L turbo. It lights up from the press of the go pedal at standstill, is super responsive from 2000rpm onwards, and can be as economical as 5.5L per 100km on the freeway.

We finished on an overall average of 7.1L/100km in a mainly urban drive cycle. That’s decent as Hyundai quote 8.0L/100km for the urban drive, 6.0L/100km for the highway, and an overall combined figure of 6.7L/100km. Dry weight is 1,507kg at its heaviest, with a gross vehicle curb weight of just under 1,950kg. The DCT’s glitch is standard for just about any gearbox of its type. Select Reverse, and it engages, roll out to a stop and select Drive.

It’s here that indecision strikes and there’s that pause between engaging and forward motion. It also strikes when coming to a give way sign, and it disengages, waits….and waits….and waits, before the clutches bite. Otherwise it’s super smooth, slick, and rarely did anything other than delight.

 

The AWD system is biased towards the front wheels and one of the driver’s screen display options is showing how much torque is split to the rear. In the Iron Man Edition it’s coloured blue, lights up a set of six or seven bars when in front wheel drive. Plant the hoof and there are four or five bars for the rear wheel wheels that really only show a couple on tarmac drive conditions. When Sport mode is selected it’s more a matter of longer gear holding and slightly crisper changes.

Steering feel is light but not to the point of losing touch with the front. There is quite a bit of communication and the ratio feels tight, possibly thanks to the AWD system providing more bite. Directional changes are rapid, composed, and the suspension is almost spot on. The front end “crashed” over a couple of speed bumps but it’s otherwise urban suitable. The brakes are a delight, too, with instant feedback and one of the best progressive feedback stories available. A driver can precisely judge just how much pressure is required at any point on its travel from top to the end. Disc sizes are up from the 2.0L Kona, at 305mm and 284mm.What About Safety?: Well there is no problem here. It’s standard Hyundai in that there is little, if anything, missing from the SafetySense package. The mandated systems such as ABS etc are here but it’s the extras that are also becoming more and more common as standard that Hyundai fits. Forward Collision Warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard here, along with four sensors for parking front and rear. There are six airbags, with the driver’s kneebag seen in other brands not seen here. Tyre pressure monitoring, pre-tensioning seatbelts, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and emergency flashing brake lights are also standard.And Warranty and Service?: Standard five years/unlimited kilometres with Hyundai’s Lifetime service plan including free first service at 1,500 kilometres, roadside assistance, and satnav upgrade plan as well.

At the End Of the Drive.
Bodywork and interior trim changes aside, the 1.6L turbo, DCT, and all wheel drive system mark the Kona Iron Man Edition as as much fun as any other Kona with the same engine. What makes the Iron Man Edition stand out is the distinctive body colour, the body mouldings, and the badging. Primary and high school runs get fingers pointing, with one high school lad coming over to the car, running his fingers over the front quarter badge and declaring: “man, that is the shit, this is so cool!” Passengers in other cars on the road would nudge the driver and point, and there was always a smile to be seen.

Absolutely it could also be seen as a somewhat cynical marketing exercise but it shows that one car company hasn’t completely lost something society needs more of: a sense of humour. Here is where you’ll find out more.

Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Kona Highlander & 2019 Hyundai Tucson Elite.Private Fleet

This Car Review Is About: A pair of SUVs from Korean goliath, Hyundai. It’s great to have to Hyundai back in the garage, and the two cars reviewed, Kona and Tucson, show the direction of one section of the car market. The Kona was the highest trim level, the Highlander, with the Tucson a mid level trim, the Elite. Kona comes in four trim levels with the conventional, non-electric, powertrain. There is Kona Go, Kona Active, Kona Elite, and Kona Highlander. There is also the limited edition “Iron Man” version. Tucson is Go, Active X, Elite, Special Edition, and Highlander.

Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of turbo or non-turbo engine. The Highlander spec Kona came with the Atkinson cycle 2.0L that drives the front wheels, the turbo is AWD. 110kW and 180Nm are the peak power and torque outputs, at 6,200rpm and 4,500rpm. The Elite came with the same capacity engine and front driven wheels, but slightly uprated in regards to power and torque, at 122kW and 205Nm, which are available at 6,200rpm and 4,000rpm. Tucson also has the 1.6L/AWD, and adds AWD to a 2.0L diesel.Both cars run E10 compatible fuel systems and are EURO 5 compliant. Transmission for the 2WD Kona is a six speed auto, as is the Tucson. The Elite Tucson is available with the diesel and 1.6L petrol, which gain an eight speed auto and seven speed dual clutch auto respectively.Consumption for the Kona is rated as 7.2L/100km for the combined, 9.7L/100km for the city, and just 5.8L/100km on the highway cycle. In 2.0L and 6 speed auto trim, the Tucson has 7.9L/100km combined, 11.0L/100km in the city cycle, and a reasonable 6.1L/100km for the highway. Weights are 1,290kg (dry) to 1,383kg for the Kona, with Tucson ranging from 1,490kg (dry) to 1,590kg.

On The Inside Is: A really funky interior for the Kona Highlander, a restrained and functional interior for the Tucson. Highlander spec for the Kona sees the body colour added to the piping on the seats, colour coordinated seatbelts, the air-vent surrounds, and gear selector surround. As the test car came in a colour called Lime Twist it makes for a very eye-catching look.The Tucson Elite review car had mocha coloured seats and an otherwise standard looking interior. There are notable similarities between the two in respect to the layout of the dash, and a couple of of differences. The Tucson, for example, has two separate buttons for fresh and recirculating, whereas the Kona uses one. The Kona also goes for a Head Up Display, accompanied by a slight buzz as it rises monolithically out of the top of the driver’s binnacle. The actual dash designs are different; the Kona is at odds with the sharp and edgy exterior design by having a flowing, organic, dash. The Tucson is a more traditional look, with a flatter profile and has air vents at either end that are reminiscent of an American classic car’s rear end.Kona Highlander has dials for both fan speed and temperature, Tucson Elite has a separate pair of tabs for fan speed, and two dials for individual front seat temperatures. Naturally the Kona offers venting and heating for the front seats but the Elite offers neither., even with perforations in the seat materials. Kona Highlander has a wireless smartphone charge pad, two USB ports up front, with Tucson Elite having a sole USB port front and rear.Headroom is identical, at 1,005mm up front, and virtually the same at 961mm for the Kona, 963mm for Tucson in the rear. Front seat legroom is lineball with Kona scoring 1,054mm for the front, Tucson 1,053mm in the front, with the shorter overall Kona losing out in the rear leg room stakes. It’s 880mm to 970mm. Shoulder room for the Kona is 1,410mm/1,385mm front and rear, whilst the Tucson has 1,450mm/1,410mm. Load up the rear and the Kona has 361L/1,143L to the Tucson’s 488L/1,478L. Both have steering wheel controls for audio, dash screen information, Bluetooth phone connection and voice activation, with both looking virtually identical. the driver’s displays are the same, and the upper centre dash for both is where the touchscreens for audio, satnav, and more are found. There are minimal design differences between the two, and both have screens that are a delight to use in their looks, simplicity of usage, and layout. Both have the almost mandatory apps including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and DAB audio.

On The Outside It’s: Revolution and evolution. The Kona is one of the new breed of small SUVs that are supplementing the medium and large SUV segments. The marketing for the Kona is aimed at the younger demographic and the design of the Kona itself is of an appeal to the same. Kona eschews the traditional front end design of upper mounted headlights and replaces them with LED daytime running lights. the headlights themselves are mid mounted, with the lower centre air intake featuring conventionally powered lights, with cornering lamps also up front. The rear has LEDs in the Highlander, with separate clusters for the reverse and indicators. Tucson is in its second generation and has been given a refinement front and rear. The LED DRL strips are now set as “eyebrows” to the headlights, rather than being located in the lower front quarters. The grille and headlights are reprofiled, there are new wheel designs, and the rear has been subtly reprofiled from the originals slightly bulbous shape, and the horizontal line in the lower third of the rear door has been deleted. Both have the durable black polyurethane body mouldings for soft-roading protection and visual appeal.

Rubber for the Highlander is 235/45 on 18 inch alloys, with the tyres from Hankook. The Tucson is slightly smaller in width at 225/55/18, with Kumho the supplier here.

On The Road It’s: A bit chalk and cheese. Although the Highlander is no heavyweight, the high rev point for the peak torque means off-the-line mojo isn’t great with the 2.0L non-turbo. Patience is required and any move from a stop sign before going into oncoming traffic needs to be well judged. Rolling acceleration isn’t fantastic but it’s nice enough and builds in a linear fashion.

The Tucson Elite is more spritely, more responsive from the start. Although it was the non-turbo engine, the performance was definitely more engaging and sparkling. Peak torque is higher in numbers and lower in the rev range, so the cogs can deliver the torque more efficiently, it seems.

Both exhibit well mannered on-road credentials. The Highlander is harder in the suspension, with a notably tighter ride across all tarmac surfaces. Steering initially felt like twisting a thick rubber rope, the Tucson lighter and easier to deal with daily. The Kona eventually felt as much of an extension as the Tucson. Braking in both was balanced, progressive, and although not instant in response from a press of the pedal, could be judged perfectly as the pedal went down.

The Tucson had an opportunity to show off its soft-road ability with a long drive in a national park and on gravel roads. Up front, the ABS calibration definitely errs towards a tarmac bias. Some of the roads are just wide enough to allow two vehicles to pass at low speed safely, and occasionally the Tucson’s stopping ability into a certain section was called upon. There was no lack of control, the car went straight ahead, and once or twice the pressure was such to engage the emergency flashers.

On the rutted surfaces the suspension was tuned well enough that body control was solid. There was little noise intrusion, and the suspension transmitted little of the jiggles through. The front end felt connected to the front and even when provoked somehow managed to keep understeer to a minimum.

The Safety Systems Are: Quite solid in both. The Hyundai SafetySense package in the Kona Highlander is shared with Kona Elite, and included Forward Collision Alert with Pedestrian and Car avoidance, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lanbe Keep Assist, and six airbags. In Tucson trim, the Elite gets these but they’re an option below. The Lane Keep Assist is perhaps a bit aggressive, with a non-subtle tugging of the wheel in the driver’s hands as it works to centralise the cars in a lane. And The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres is the current Hyundai package. 12 months worth of roadside assistance is included at purchase, the first service is free. Hyundai also offer a Lifetime Service Plan, and your local Hyundai dealer can explain how that works in more detail. There is also the Hyundai AutoLink app, and it looks pretty cool to play with. It’s a multi-function monitor system that transfers info from the car to a smartphone, allowing tyre pressure checks, fuel and battery status, even driving time.

At The End Of The Drive. The growth of the SUV market seems almost unstoppable. Here, a major world player offers a small and medium sized option, with the Santa Fe at the top of the tree. The Kona and its marketing seem to be ideal for a clientele in the 20-30 year old demographic, and potentially a sing;e or couple with no children. The Tucson goes towards the mid 20s and upwards, and with one child at least.

Neither are horrible to live with and certainly the Kona became easier to understand in how to drive it as the week progressed. the Tucson, in comparison, was like strapping on a familiar set of boots, partly because I was involved in the original model’s launch program. The fact that the room up front is identical and really not that much different for the rear seat speaks volumes for the overall design and packaging of the Kona.

On a tech level the Kona Highlander has the HUD to offer, and for those that don’t wish to use it there is a switch that lowers the screen. Dynamically the Tucson comes out as the winner, but a trim-for-trim comparison would provide a more apt comparison. In either respect, Hyundai kicks goals as a car brand to aspire to, and the “N” series of i30 is certainly highly regarded.
2019 Hyundai Tucson range and 2019 Hyundai Kona range info is available in more detail via these two links.