Small SUV sales are booming, from 20,000 registrations in 2011 to more than 90,000 a year currently. Hyundai is hoping to get a slice of that pie with the Kona.
Since the departure of the ix35, Hyundai has been missing out the growing demand for small SUVs, but the Hyundai Kona fixes that. The 2.0-litre Active is the base model of the range, and with a $24,500 retail price and healthy equipment levels, offers compelling value for money.
Tell me about this car
The Hyundai Kona Active is the entry-level variant of Hyundai’s small-SUV range. A 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol sends power to the front wheels exclusively, while an eye-catching exterior design – available in appropriately bright colours – helps the Kona stand out from the sea of other compact crossovers.
The Kona is built on the same platform that underpins the popular i30 hatch, and competes in one of the most crowded segments in Australia.
- Cabin space – The Kona is shorter overall than some rivals (in particular the popular Mazda CX-3), however it has a longer wheelbase and is wider. This means more room inside for passengers. Front headroom is ample, and rear passengers won’t feel cramped either.
- Gearbox – The six-speed automatic transmission which is paired with the base model’s naturally-aspirated engine gives the car a smooth and relaxed feel. It works well for the kind of driving the majority of Kona owners will do, with calm power delivery in most conditions.
- Ride quality – Hyundai invested lots of time and money in tuning the Kona’s suspension for Australia, and the result is impressive. While the ride is slightly on the firmer side, it isn’t intrusive, and it requires a large and sharp pothole to compromise cabin comfort. The 16-inch tyre and wheel combination on the Active helps soak up bumps.
- Brakes – The pedal feel on the Kona is intuitive, progressive, and the brakes have impressive performance for the class.
- Styling – Hyundai’s designers have divided opinions with the Kona, with striking exterior styling. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, the Kona’s look is a breath of fresh air and will definitely stand out from the crowd.
- Engine – While 80 percent of buyers will opt for this engine over the 1.6-litre turbo, the Active’s 2.0-litre unit isn’t as efficient, refined, or smooth. Power outputs of 110kW and 180Nm are on-par for this class, but those figures don’t arrive until quite high in the rev-range. This means the engine is rather vocal when pushed, and requires a gentle right foot to operate quietly.
- Space saver spare – While cabin space is ample, the design of the Kona means compromises were made with luggage room. It has 361 litres of space with the rear seats raised, but this comes thanks to a space saver spare tyre, whereas an i30 has a full size unit.
- Active safety an option – As the entry-level model, the Active misses out on a number of safety features as standard including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, AEB, and a driver attention warning. These can be added as part of a $1500 SmartSense safety pack, which is good value, but in 2017 many of these safety features should be standard across the range.
- Body control – While the ride in the Kona is impressive, it lacks some body control in the corners. It can wallow somewhat while turning, pitching to the outside front tyre.
- Sat-Nav – A navigation system is not provided as standard in the Kona at any trim level. However, Hyundai has implemented a bring-your-own policy, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring allowing owners to use the navigation apps in their phones through the Kona’s infotainment screen.