WHILE it takes its name from a Hawaiian island, the Hyundai Kona is really more of a landmark in the mainstream SUV sector.
The Kona is available in 11 versions based on five trim levels powered by choice of new 115 or 136ps six or seven-speed 1.6 turbo-diesels, alongside 120ps 1.0 two-wheel-drive (2WD) six-speed and 177ps 1.6 all-wheel-drive (AWD) petrol engines, all sharing a five-door SUV-styled body.
Our front wheel drive 1.0 SE is anticipated to be the best seller with 44%, combining the roominess with economy and a good level of trim and equipment.
The 2WD versions will comprise about 90 per cent of registrations in the UK. There is also limited availability of a Kona Electric version via on-line only sales for now, but it will build and go mainstream sometime next year.
This new generation triple-pot petrol power plant is remarkably smooth and with intelligent cut-off it means you are never wasting fuel in traffic and can make sustained if modest progress.
Driven one-up you really get the benefit and pulls fairly well so long as you consider and match pulling ability to ratios.
The light clutch and slick six-speed change mean it all works beautifully and you learn to anticipate overtaking opportunities on country roads.
In town, its power steering and good turning circle mean its agile and easy to park, helped by the clear if small rear view camera display on the central console.
Acceleration is adequate for most traffic conditions but put in three behind and a passenger beside the driver and you have to work it much harder with fuel economy suffering as weight and load increase.
Having said that, it is good to note the Kona 1.0 will maintain a steady motorway speed without struggling.
In fact, when stretched the engine produces a characteristic eager and not unpleasant note which trails away as higher ratios are selected.
There is a constant road rumble and this becomes more pronounced as the surface worsens but wind noise is low.It was all entirely predictable and had no real vices, steering and stopping with ease and utter control, while the handbrake securely held it on slopes.
I liked the relationship of major controls to the driving position and the secondary switches and stalks were also conveniently placed, the dials simple and clear with a selectable info display between the speedo and tacho.
The console carried the usual infotainment settings but I am not a fan of linking to a mobile phone due to signaling issues unless you download a map before you set off.
Heating and ventilation was very good and effective throughout, with powered windows and a good sunroof.
Those infront get a better deal with regards to oddments space and for a family oriented car it lacked seat-back pockets and decent sized bins in the rear. There was a low sill behind the rear luggage space, a flat floor with some space beneath and to the sides and the offset backrests quickly dropped to almost triple capacity over a flat loadbed.
Access for driver and passengers was good, front seats adjusted easily and all were comfortably curved and supporting. I liked the large window area, the good wipers both ends and the bright lights.
Many commented on the sleek lines, interior look and feel of quality and fittings, and its overall refinement.