THE NEW HYUNDAI KONA CROSSOVER
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THE NEW HYUNDAI KONA CROSSOVER

Date: 29 Oct 2018 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
The South African subcompact crossover SUV class is gaining in popularity and the latest entrant is the 2018 Hyundai Kona crossover. Its exterior style is really-beautiful, it drives better than virtually all the competition, ticks all the boxes and delivers a lot for the money. The new Hyundai Kona is available in two derivatives - a choice between two engines - including a perky 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that is destined to be a strong performer in the brand's local sales figures.

The design of the Kona is quite different to the other models and will no doubt draw attention, especially the front-end with its sleek LED lighting, three rows of lights, where the top lights are the daytime running lights; beneath it are the headlights, and at the bottom are the anti-fog lights. Also notable is the new cascading front grille and composite headlamps, as seen on other recent models of the brand and above which sits a false air intake, while the exterior rear-view mirrors can be folded in with remote control to protect it from damage in tight parking spaces. The bold front and rear are emphasized by the car's wide stance and its voluminous, confident crossover vehicle body styling. The attractive 17-inch alloy, wheels shod with 215/55 R17 tyres are standard on both derivatives, mud flaps front and rear all contribute to the bold character of the car.

Moving inside the new Kona features smooth, contoured surfaces on top. The interior of the Kona comes with two distinctive colour themes: Lime, for the Acid Yellow exterior colour; and Red, for the other four exterior colours. The interior colour accents are featured on the air vent surrounds, around the gearshift, the engine start button ring, the stitching on the seats and the steering wheel. Once you climb inside the Kona, the first thing you notice is the very user-friendly dashboard, the prominent feature of which is the 7-inch navigation floating touchscreen, in its ergonomic position, allowing drivers to stay tuned to the traffic ahead, at-all-times. The infotainment system, with its excellent sound from four speakers and two tweeters, integrates navigation, media and connectivity features, and the Display Audio allows passengers to mirror their smartphone's content onto the system's 7-inch display via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the new Kona is really spacious, offering plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. Up front, the well-shaped bucket seats are fully adjustable and there’s ample legroom, while the rear bench seat will accommodate three passengers quite comfortably, with plenty leg and shoulder room. Front and rear headrests are all height-adjustable, as well as the mounting point of the front occupants' seat belts on the B-pillars. The sun visors include vanity mirrors with illumination, and the center roof console includes a sun-glass holder. The large 361 litre boot will accommodate the family’s luggage on the annual holiday but if more space is required, the boot capacity can be increased by removing a hidden storage tray, and if even more space is required, the rear bench seat backrest splits 60:40 and can be folded down.

The all-new Kona is packed with luxury and convenience items that includes; air-conditioning, rear passengers' arm rest with cup holders, 4-spoke multi-function steering wheel, adjustable for both reach and rake, and the 7-inch infotainment system that links to CarPlay on Apple iPhones or Android Auto on Android cell phones. That enables, among others, the display of the music and navigation applications on the centrally mounted touch-screen. Remote control buttons on the height and reach-adjustable steering wheel enables the driver to operate the speed cruise control, answer phone calls, toggle the onboard computer's information screens and change radio stations or mute the sound system. The onboard computer offers a wide variety of information, including instant and average fuel consumption, while the display in the instrument cluster in front of the driver also displays the tyre pressure monitor, which is standard equipment.

In terms of safety, the Hyundai Kona has earned a five-star safety rating in the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP). Active safety features include; an Anti-skid Braking System (ABS), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Downhill Brake Control, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning. Passive safety features include; driver and front passenger airbags, complemented by curtain and side-impact airbags, plus auto locking doors that are speed sensitive at 15km/h.

The new Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive Manual is powered by Hyundai’s Kappa 998cc T-GDI 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, pushing out 88 kW at 6 000 RPM and 172 NM maximum torque between 1 500 and 4 000 RPM, and features a six-hole GDI injector, pressured to a higher-than-average 200 bar, securing clean combustion. Power goes to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Top speed of the Kona 1.0 TGDI is given as 181 km/h and fuel consumption, measured in a real-life combined cycle, can be as low as 6.8 litres/100 km, but on the ride and drive, it registered 7.6. The fuel tank on both models holds 50 litres.

The Atkinson 2-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine powering the Kona 2.0 NU Executive, develops 110 kW at 6 200 RPM and maximum torque of 180 NM available from 4 500 RPM. Drive is to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. The 2-liter Kona credited with a maximum speed of 194 km/h, and recorded fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 km on a combined urban/open road test cycle, although on the test run, we got a reading of 8.2 on the trip computer which is also good considering that we did push it a bit hard on the test run.

The Kona 2.0 Executive also has a button on the center gearshift console which offers the driver a choice between Comfort, Eco or Sport driving modes, which does change the character of the vehicle somewhat. I left the auto in comfort mode for most of the time and was more than happy with the ride. In the stopping department, the Kona has vented discs in front and solid discs at the rear and were really good. Stomping hard on the loud pedal at 100 km/h brought the Kona to a halt in approximately 3.3 sec's.

The ride and drive route took us up the KZN North coast and for this first sector, we started out in the Kona 2.0 NU Executive 6-speed automatic, one of the most anticipated models in its category and the car was as agile as we had heard about, whether driving around town or out on winding country roads. From behind the wheel, the new Kona feels just like driving a normal hatchback. The ride is smooth and comfortable, and it takes good care of ironing out bumps, ruts and dodging potholes on poor tar roads, of which there are many, as we found on the roads through the sugar cane areas. Although the Kona rides higher off the ground than a subcompact car, it is however impressively neutral when cornering at speed. The amount of feedback from the motor driven power steering is around the best, even including some luxury models. The overall feel is balanced and responsive, the firm suspension reassuring and as for the braking, it is more than adequate even in an emergency stop.

Cruising on the freeways at a steady 120 km/h in 6th gear, the engine turns at just 2 000 RPM while the ride is relaxed and pleasant with almost no sign of road or wind noise. The automatic gearbox is smooth-shifting and always finds the right gear when going up hills. At the halfway mark on the drive, we changed to drive the Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive 6-speed Manual. The 1.0 –GDI has almost the same spec as the 2-litre. However, being powered by the Kappa 3-cylinder petrol engine, at half the capacity of the-2-litre and albeit turbo-charged, I fully expected it to be underpowered, but how wrong I was. It is surprisingly powerful and the 6-speed manual gearbox slices nicely through the gears, making it the sportier model to drive. Sure, up steep hills, you will have to drop a “cog” or two to keep up the momentum, but the gear-changes are smooth and quick. All in all, this translates to an enjoyable and rewarding driving experience, not unlike some of the sporty German hatches.

The recommended retail prices are R379 900 for the Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive 6-speed Manual and R399 900 for the Kona 2.0 NU Executive Automatic. The prices include a 7 year / 200 000 km manufacturers' warranty (comprising the 5 years / 150 000 km warranty with a 2 year / 50 000 km drivetrain warranty); a 5 year / 90 000 km service plan; and 5 years/150 000 km roadside assistance.
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