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Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona - a fun small SUV

Hyundai Kona Elite 1.6 Turbo GDi

Some cars are just designed for having fun. The Hyundai Kona is a classic example of this.  With a name inspired by the sunny side of Hawaii’s Big Island, famous for its coffee and for Mauna Loa volcano as well as sunshine and laid-back relaxation.  Although Kona itself isn’t as famous a surfing spot as, say, Maui, the name’s associations with Hawaii suggest that the Hyundai Kona, a little SUV, would be a great car for a surfer. And, of course, for anyone else who wants to relax and enjoy themselves. Even the eye-popping colour range available for the Kona suggests fun, with sunny yellow, ocean blue and lava red being just three possibilities – and with some of the variants, you can get a two-tone exterior colour scheme as well (Dark Knight silver roof and an Acid Yellow body, anyone?).  Oh yes – the Special Edition variant also has coloured seatbelts in acid yellow or red as standard, and these are options for all the other variants.

The fun exterior styling on this smaller SUV involves more than just the colours. The profile of the roof has a slight curve that’s reminiscent of a coupé but there’s enough chunkiness to ensure that the Hyundai Kona still looks like a proper SUV – and it’s got the ground clearance to back it up (170 mm at kerb weight but probably less if all five seats are full of tall surfers and the roof rails are laden with boards).  A tailgate-mounted spoiler (which matches the roof colour) ties in nicely with a few quirky angles.  The dynamic-looking front grille and surround (black grille and black surround in the Active and Special Edition; carbon grey with chrome surround in the Elite and Highlander) set the lights off nicely, with the lights in question being LED daytime running lights at the top and projector beam headlights (LEDs on the Highlander).  On the Elite and Highlander variants of the Hyundai Kona, you get front fog lamps as well.  The designers have had a bit of fun with the LEDs, as they’ve used these for the indicator repeater in the side mirrors and for the positioning lights.  Throw in perky alloy wheels ranging from 16 inches (Active), to 17 inches (Elite) or 18 inches (Highlander and Special Edition) and you’ve got a very nice looking package indeed.

Of course, you have to be practical and be capable of actually doing stuff if you want to have fun, and the Hyundai Kona can certainly do that.  In fact, this SUV wouldn’t totally disgrace itself if used as a work vehicle by a tradie or if it was used as Mum’s Taxi for the school run rather than for weekend trips to the beach.  One of the possibilities for the engine types (the 1.6T-GDi) comes with on-demand AWD, which suggests that the Hyundai Kona has a bit of off-road ability, which is backed up by the 17-degree approach angle and the 29 degree departure angle. The engines themselves back up the practicality, both of them smooth as a mug of good java and hot as volcanic lava. Of the two, the 1.6T G-Di is the peppiest, with 130 kW of power at 5500 rpm and 265 Nm of torque throughout the 1500–4500 range – don’t you just love turbochargers?  Not that the 2.0 Atkinson MPi, which comes with permanent 2WD and 6-speed auto transmission, is anything of a slouch; I’d certainly say that 110 kW at 6200 and 180 Nm at 4500 is plenty.  In the fuel economy stakes, the two are pretty evenly matched, with the combined fuel economy for the 1.6T G-Di being 6.7 L/100 km and that for the 2.0 Atkinson MPi being 7.2 L/100 km (on the open road, the 2.0 has the better fuel economy: 5.8 L/100 km versus 6.0 L/100 km).  Speaking of fuel, both engine types will take E10 ethanol blends as well as straight 91 petrol – the Di in the 1.6T G-Di standing for “direct injection” rather than diesel, which needs to be pointed out, given the plateau of the torque curve that could dupe you into thinking that this is a diesel engine (it isn’t, OK?).  Three drive modes (Eco, Sport and Comfort) are available in all models.

Some people will say that it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and after that, it’s hilarious. However, the designers of the Hyundai Kona seem to think that if someone gets hurt, it aint no fun no more, so there are plenty of safety features, active and passive, on all variants of the Hyundai Kona, with the ability to get a sub-variant of the Active that includes a safety pack to give it the extra active safety features of the Elite, Highlander and Special Edition. However, even the baseline Active variant of the Hyundai Kona features rear parking guidance, rear view camera, hill start assistance, hill descent control, brake assistance, stability management, traction control and EBD (a whole bowl of alphabet soup if you use the abbreviations).  What you’ll get with the safety pack (and in the Elite, Highlander and Special Edition) is blind spot collision warning, front collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assistance, and rear cross-traffic warning, with the Highlander throwing in front parking guidance and high beam assistance for good measure.  On the passive safety front, you get the same wide range of features across the board: driver, front passenger, front side and curtain airbags; seat belts with pretensioners, load limiters and adjustable height, roll-over sensor, ISOFIX child seat preparation in two of the three rear seats and top tethers for child seats in all three; and a seat belt reminder for all the passengers as well as the driver.

You have to be comfortable to have plenty of fun, so it’s good to see all the driver and passenger comfort features there in the Hyundai Kona.  All models have some form of air conditioning, with the Elite and Highlander models having a climate control system with auto-defogging.  Cruise control, one-touch turn signalling and steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio & phone all come as standard on all models, as do power adjustable exterior mirrors, and tons of cabin storage space. Upgrade to the Elite or Highlander models and you also get smart key remote entry (as opposed to just “plain” keyless entry), rain-sensing wipers and push-button starting. Go all the way to the top-of-the-range Highlander and you also get heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel (perfect if you’ve taken the Hyundai Kona up to the ski slopes), a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, a heads-up display and an extra-big (4.2-inch) digital display panel.

As a certain music app tells us, life is better with music.  There’s nothing like having something to listen to when you drive, whether you’re in busy traffic or whether you’re going through long stretches of Outback.  To play your chosen sounds, the Hyundai Kona’s got a pretty decent 6-speaker sound system with Bluetooth streaming (and Bluetooth phone connectivity), iPod-compatible AUX/USB input and the good old AM/FM radio.  You can see what’s going on via the 7-inch touchscreen display and the Hyundai Kona’s also got Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.  For non-drivers, there’s two 12-V charging points, and in the Highlander, there’s also a wireless charging pad – or if you’re old-school and prefer books or portable handcrafts when you’re the passenger, the strategically placed lights around the cabin interior should see you right.

All in all, the Hyundai Kona is a great little SUV that isn’t just fun and isn’t just for surfers, but looks likely to be a good versatile small 5-seat SUV that’s got potential for a lot of uses.  My only real gripe is that the spare tyre’s a space saver, but when you consider all the other pluses, that’s pretty minor, really.

Current model series include:

  • Hyundai Kona Active
  • Hyundai Kona Active With Safety Pack
  • Hyundai Kona Elite
  • Hyundai Kona Highlander
  • Hyundai Kona Special Edition

For any more information on the Hyundai Kona, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!), we can submit vehicle quotes requests out to our national network of Hyundai dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!