Based on the highly regarded new Hyundai i30 with a shared platform and many components, Kona is ready to take on the likes of Mitsubishi’s ancient but best-selling ASX, Mazda CX-3, Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V.
Like the new i30 hatch, Kona has undergone local engineering development to make it better suited to our conditions.
There are three grades available; Active, Elite and Highlander and two engine choices; a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated petrol, only in 2WD (front), and a 1.6 litre turbo petrol, only in AWD (with lock up AWD mode).
Alloy wheel sizes are 16″, 17″ and 18″ in ascending order and the spare is a space saver.
The 110kW/180Nm 2.0 litre uses delayed engine ignition called the Atkinson Cycle to improve efficiency and comes with a conventional six speed auto transmission only.
Fuel economy is 7.2L/100km on regular unleaded.
The 130kW/265Nm 1.6 litre turbo uses direct injection for efficiency gains and is only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch DCT ‘automatic’.
Fuel economy is rated at 6.7L/100km also on regular unleaded. Both engines pass Euro 5 emissions regulations.
Prices range from $24,500 for the 2.0 litre, 2WD Active up to $36,000 for the 1.6 litre, AWD Highlander.
A generous amount of advanced driver assist technology is standard in the Elite and Highlander with a safety pack containing most of the technology available for an additional $1500 on the base grade.
There’s also a wireless phone charger in the centre console and what’s called AutoLink that allows owners to keep tabs on many of their car’s functions including maintenance requirements.
All variants have three drive modes Eco, Comfort, and Sport and but none gets paddle shift.
I was able to drive the base Active 2.0 litre and the top of the range Highlander 1.6 and have a definite preference for the latter in any grade because it goes better, has sporty performance, multi-link rear suspension, lower fuel consumption and all-wheel drive with 50/50 front to rear lock function.
What struck me most, particularly with the 1.6 is that it capably addresses any desire for a hot hatch because that’s the level of performance you get.
Handling is surprisingly agile for a tallish small SUV and I punted the cars pretty hard over some fairly rough roads and on gravel.
Dynamically there are no complaints with Kona delivering up sharp steering response, strong braking and impressive bump isolation.
It doesn’t buck off line if you hit a big one fast through a corner either.
I like to looks of it except the secondary lights low at the rear. Dunno why they bother with those. Apart from that it’s a good looker inside and out.
The interior has lots in common with other Hyundais and is functional and stylish in a grey sort of way.
You can address that with multi coloured trim highlights and there’s a contrast roof colour available too.
Open the tailgate and you’ll find a decent load space and rear seat room is adequate.
I like the Kona and would certainly consider buying one if I was shopping in this segment. They have some hero colours too with the tangerine a fave of mine.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2018 Hyundai Kona
- Engines: 2.0 litre petrol producing 110kw/180Nm or 1.6 litre turbo petrol producing 130kW/265Nm
- Transmissions: 6-speed auto (2WD 2.0-litre), 7-speed dual clutch DCT (AWD 1.6-litre)
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: Five years
- Origin: South Korea
- Price: from $24,500