By Mike Torpey on 2019-02-17 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Hyundai Kona 1.6
T-GDi 4WD Premium GT
TURNING heads in an instant can make all the difference when it comes to choosing a new car - especially in a crowded marketplace.
That's perhaps one of the principal reasons why Hyundai described its Kona compact SUV as an important milestone in its journey to becoming the leading Asian automotive brand in Europe by 2021.
By then the Korean car maker will have launched another 30 new models and derivatives.
In the Kona - named after a district of Hawaii - Hyundai has a car that stands out from the crowd, a multitude that includes the likes of the Nissan Juke, Citroen C3 Aircross and SEAT Arona.
Sharp in its appeal with striking colours the Kona majors on its owners being able to personalise their vehicle.
So in addition to contrasting body and roof colours you can also get coloured trim around the gearshift, air vents and start/stop button plus coloured stitching on the seats and steering wheel.
Higher end models also offer wireless smartphone charging, a handy and pin sharp head-up display plus a high-mounted floating touchscreen.
But while the Kona starts at an attractive £16,450 for a 1.0-litre T-GDi petrol variant you have to pay nearly £10k more for the Premium GT range-topper.
This model, a smart and stylish looking car with snazzy contrast colour roof, comes complete with upscale kit like a head-up display, heated steering wheel, blind spot warning, ventilated seats and powered front seat adjustment.
There are also plenty of safety features including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert and high beam assist while every Kona gets lane keeping assist and driver attention alert.
The Kona is also cleverly designed in that its above average ground clearance makes it less likely to scuffing on pitted tracks or multi-storey car parks.
It is up for grabs with of a choice of 1.0 and 1.6-litre petrol engines plus a pair of 1.6-litre diesels and the new 300-mile range Kona Electric, in five trim grades ranging from S, which starts at £16,450, to Premium GT.
The 1.6-litre petrol version is a strong performer developing 177bhp and featuring all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox as standard - capable of reaching 62mph in 7.9 seconds.
Drive with anything but a light foot though and the official Combined fuel return of 42.2mpg can shrink by almost 10 per cent.
If economy is a concern then it's probably best to stay out of the most dynamic of the three push-button drive modes of Eco, Comfort and Sport.
That's just about the only negative aspect of this car, which is family-friendly and spacious - including for three passengers across the back - and with ample headroom.
Hyundai Kona 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Premium GT
Mechanical: 177bhp, 1,591cc, 4-cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via dual-clutch auto transmission
Max Speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.2
Insurance Group: 19
C02 emissions: 153g/km
Bik rating: 31%
Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles
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