Hyundai goes compact

with Kona SUV

Hyundai Kona, side, static
Hyundai Kona, front
Hyundai Kona, side
Hyundai Kona, overhead
Hyundai Kona, dashboard
Hyundai Kona, interior
Hyundai Kona, rear
Hyundai Kona, cabin

HYUNDAI is already well known for its SUV offerings with the big-selling Santa Fe and Tucson leading the range and from October the Korean car maker will introduce the Kona, a smaller but equally versatile family motor.

The Kona is aimed at the younger end of the market and offers a high level of useful kit, smart looks and a wide range of driving aids and a choice of engines, plus all-wheel-drive for more adventurous motoring in tougher conditions.

Hyundai admits it has been a bit late into the compact SUV sector where it will be up against the likes of the Nissan Juke and the soon-to-arrive Citroen C3 Aircross but is confident the Kona will sell well in the UK with sales in the first year aimed at round 16,00.

The booming car maker says the new Kona is an important milestone for Hyundai Motor Europe on its way to becoming the leading Asian automotive brand on the Continent by 2021 with the launch of 30 new models and derivatives.

I got a first good look at the new Hyundai at its European launch and was impressed with its looks.

It comes with Hyundai's new family identity, the cascading mesh grille, new twin headlamps with the LED daytime running lights positioned on top of the LED headlights instead of below.

The Kona's comes with a two-tone roof and the choice of ten exterior colours and to give it a more rugged look it displays wheel arch and bumper cladding plus a rear spoiler with an integrated LED brake light.

It looks good from the outside and I was pretty impressed with the interior, especially up front, which is uncluttered dash dominated by an optional floating eight inch screen which integrates all navigation, media and connectivity features. There's also a head-up display available for the driver.

Climate and temperature control is also positioned in the centre console and can easily be operated via the dials without distracting the driver.

There seems to be plenty of room in the new Kona, I'm 6ft-plus and headroom in the rear is adequate with plenty of legroom as well.

Luggage space offered is around 361 litres and the rear seats offer a 60-40 split to allow the loading of extra-sized cargo that would normally not fit in the rear cargo space. With the seats folded flat, the Kona offers 1,143 litres of space for weekend outings or longer trips.

Connectivity seems to be ever more important in today's motors and the Kona isn't short in that department. Its optional main screen integrates all navigation, media and connectivity features, supporting both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The system comes with a seven-year free subscription to LIVE Services, offering updated information in real time: weather, traffic, speed cameras and online searches for points of interest.

Another Hyundai first in the Kona is the Display Audio system allowing passengers the option of switching their smartphone's content on to the system's display via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With this function they can use the phone's built-in navigation capabilities, make phone calls, dictate messages or listen to their favourite music.

The Kona comes with some of the latest active safety features including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, driver attention alert blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.

As far is powertrains go the choice is between two turbocharged, small-displacement petrol engines. The 1.0-litre T-GDI comes with six-speed manual transmission and CO2 emissions of 119g/km which equates to 55mpg.

There is also a higher powered 1.6-litre T-GDI with 177bhp and Hyundai's self-developed seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and four-wheel drive with CO2 coming in at 169g/km or 38.7mpg.

The 1.0-litre has a 0-62mph sprint time of 12 seconds and the more powerful version at a claimed 7.9 seconds.

Next summer Hyundai will be launching its next generation of efficient 1.6-litre diesel powertrains for the Kona also available with six-speed manual change and seven-speed auto with optional four-wheel-drive.

Prices have yet to be announced for the UK but expect a starting price of £15,000 to £16,000 for the entry level model.

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