Hard rock tour for

Hyundai Kona

HYUNDAI is using its new Kona compact SUV to raise thousands of pounds for charity by taking it on tour around some of Britain's ancient volcanic hotspots.

With endurance athlete Sophie Radcliffe on board, the challenge was to drive the Kona some 1,000 miles to conquer 10 of the most spectacular landscapes created millions of years ago when volcanoes were shaping our topography.

It was an appropriate debut for the car which takes its name from the Kona district of Hawaii where volcanoes are still active.

Starting in Snowdonia the Kona 10 Challenge criss-crossed the British Isles taking in Croghan Hill and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland before scaling Scaffell Pike in the Lake District then on to Scotland where Sophie's adventure trail took her from North Berwick Law to Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh the on to Glen Coe, the summit of Ben Nevis, the remote headland of Ardnamurchan and ended at Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye - and all in 72 hours to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer.

We got to grips with the new Kona on the slopes of Snowdon where the latest entrant to the booming compact crossover scene showed its mettle on and off road.

And it's the latter which sets the Kona apart as this is a little SUV that can be had as a 4x4 as well as in more conventional front-wheel-drive configuration.

Most of the other compacts currently on the market are SUVs in looks alone but Hyundai has opted to make its offering a proper adventure vehicle.

The Kona line up is competitively priced from £16,195 for a 1.0-litre turbo petrol version and the five model range tops out at £24,495 for the 1.6-litre turbo Premium GT which comes with four-wheel-drive and a seven speed dual clutch auto transmission.

The car also sees a number of firsts for the Korean brand with the range topped fitted with a head-up display as well as full smartphone connectivity and a high end Krell sound system.

Styled in proper SUV fashion with some bold lines and chunky body armour extending from around the wheel arches to the front and rear bumpers, it looks the part and with almost seven inches of ground clearance it can take on some tough terrain.

On the Premium GT Kona the automatic 4x4 system can be locked in to give maximum traction and trying it out on sand it showed plenty of grip, even under harsh acceleration.

The 1.6-litre engine delivers 177ps which makes it on the lively side for a SUV with a 0 to 60 time of 7.8 seconds and a top end of 127mph.

Hyundai claims an official fuel return of 42.2mpg with emissions of 153g/km and we saw an average of 36 to the gallon overall.

In two-wheel-drive set up and with the 1.0-litre engine the Kona is more economical and we managed to achieve a read out of 48mpg from the trip computer - not far from the stated 52.3mpg. The CO2 rating is 125/km.

It's a six-speed manual yet both transmissions Hyundai is using in the Kona were up to the job and there's a good amount of pull at all levels.

There's no quibble about the handling and for a small SUV it feels well planted, even when sitting on the 18-inch wheels which come with the Premium GT.

Some bright paint jobs are available and to jazz up the interior there are coloured inserts in the trim and body-coloured seatbelts.

At 13ft 11ins in length and with a wheelbase of 8ft 8ins, the Kona has a fair amount of room front and back despite its compact dimensions.

Boot space is also up to the job ranging from 361 to 1,143 litres and there's a handy underfloor compartment.

On the Premium GT the dash is set off with an eight-inch touchscreen and technology extends from sat nav to automatic emergency braking, lane departure and blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts. It's also fitted with a wireless phone charging pad.

Full LED headlights are another feature of the top grade Kona and that rounds off a package which makes it a very well equipped compact.

In all aspects the Kona has enough about it to be stand out in this rapidly growing part of the car market but for those with a sense of adventure the 4x4 range topper is right on the money.

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