THERE is no doubt the boom sector for new cars these days is for SUVs. Almost every manufacturer has their own ideas about what will sell and Hyundai last year decided going compact is what people want.
So enter the Kona – a striking small crossover with lots of kit which has now gained a 1.6 turbo diesel engine with the ability to stretch every gallon out to a claimed 67.3mpg.
We got to try out the mid level spec Premium 1.6CRDi which came with a close set six speed manual box in ‘Lake Silver’.
Now it has to be said the Kona is best known here in the UK for its electric versions which range in price from £31,500 to £38,000, depending on battery power. The electric Kona holds the title for best ‘real world’ range on a single charge for any SUV at 259 miles and is also one of the most affordable EV SUVs to buy.
Non-electric versions start from £16,295 for a three-cylinder 1.0 litre petrol turbo in base spec. There is also a four-cylinder 1.6 petrol and now Hyundai have added the diesel option with two power levels, our 115 bhp version and a 134bhp unit. Despite many other car makers turning away from diesel Hyundai still says there is still a demand.
The 115bhp car comes with a manual gearbox while the 134 gets seven speed automatic transmission as standard.
It has to be said the diesel engine can be noisy if pushed hard but despite being the lower power unit it performs well with a 0 to 60 time of 10.7 seconds and top speed of 114.
I had to put this to the test while using the Kona for a trip to a classic car event where I was following a petrol head pal in his Porsche 911 GT3. While there was no comparison performance wise the little SUV did not get left behind and was surprisingly good when pushed hard into corners.
The front wheel drive Kona (four-wheel drive is available on the higher-powered petrol) is also a comfortable and enjoyable place to be with plenty of room in the front while the rear
Is a little cramped for adults and boot space is less than some rivals.
However, it has to be said the 1.0-litre turbo petrol version, at £3,000 less, is better value unless you are a very high mileage driver as it still returns over 50mpg and is only 1.3 seconds slower to 60… and considerably quieter.
Electronics and connectivity feature heavily in the Kona. There are 5.0in, 7.0in and 8.0in infotainment displays according to trim level, the base option including Bluetooth. The larger touchscreens have a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the 8.0in one has navigation and seven years’ free subscription to real-time traffic, weather and speed camera location updates.
As for trims, there are five to choose from – S, SE, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT. Entry-level models get 16in alloy wheels, electric windows, hill start assist and lane departure warning as standard while inside, there is air conditioning, tinted rear windows, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Upgrade to SE and you gain 17in alloys, roof rails, rear parking sensors, rear view camera, and smartphone integration, while our Premium trimmed Kona includes 18in alloy wheels, climate control, auto wipers and lights, and keyless entry and start.
Premium SE models adds electrically adjustable and climate controlled front seats, leather upholstery, folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel and front parking sensors, while the range-topping Premium GT Kona is equipped with LED headlights and head-up display.
All versions feature a host of safety equipment including rear cross traffic alert and lane-keep assist.
The only negative on our car was the slightly cheapening effect on an otherwise well designed and functional interior is that it is entirely black, headlining included. There’s contrast colour stitching and decor, but the dark trim is a little dull.
More information at www.hyundai.co.uk
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth