By Mike Torpey on 2020-03-28 - 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 1.0
KOREAN car maker Hyundai hit upon a winning formula when it introduced PLAY versions of its popular i10 city car and i20 supermini.
So it didn't take long - just three months to be precise - for the powers that be to extend this smart initiative to the Kona compact SUV.
The idea is to offer a combination of high equipment levels and a low price.
Based on the mid-range SE trim, Kona PLAY adds items like 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and metallic or pearl paint to a list that already has a seven-inch touchscreen DAB radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There's also a rear-view camera, parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, Bluetooth, air-con and a leather steering wheel.
All useful stuff in a sharp-looking vehicle that is also cleverly designed in that its above average ground clearance makes it less exposed to scuffing on pitted tracks or in multi-storey car parks.
The Kona is actually named after a district of Hawaii and is without doubt a model that stands out from the crowd in a congested area of the market which includes the likes of the Nissan Juke, Citroen C3 Aircross and SEAT Arona.
And 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, plus five main trim grades.
Our PLAY variant featured the 1.0 T-GDi three cylinder petrol unit with front-wheel drive and mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
It's smooth, agile and nicely balanced to drive too, if a bit slow to pick up its feet - but then the Kona PLAY is geared more towards urban life than constant motorway drudgery.
And in that town and rural environment it is perfectly well at home, with the added benefit of 50-plus miles per gallon - though our own return over 250 miles was closer to 44mpg.
Otherwise the Kona PLAY is family-friendly and spacious - including for three passengers across the back - and with ample headroom.
Stowage includes a 334-litre load area expanding to 1,116 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded down, a rear centre armrest with cupholders, a glovebox, door bins all round, two front cupholders and a deep central box.
And the boot's low loading height and large rear opening has been designed for easy access.
You also get a choice of seven colours - with no additional charge for metallic or pearl paint - with ritzy names like Tangerine Comet, Blue Lagoon, Chalk White, Lake Silver, Phantom Black, Pulse Red and our own rather striking Acid Yellow.
Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi PLAY
Mechanical: 120ps, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 12.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 51.4
Insurance Group: 9
C02 emissions: 124g/km
Bik rating: 28%
Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles
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