Our Tangerine Comet Kona, which is Orange to you and me, certainly stood out on the road.
I like its exterior design and think it’s perhaps the best-looking car Hyundai currently make. The range of colours for the Kona is excellent, taking a departure from the usual greys to include our Tangerine Comet, Acid Yellow, Pulse Red, Blue Lagoon and Ceramic Blue. For the less adventurous there’s Lake Silver, Dark Knight (metallic grey), Chalk White and Phantom Black.
I think the Kona is a great-looking car from all angles. I like the modern-style slim headlights with larger fogs underneath. I also like the way they’ve carried this over to a similar design at the rear. Even the chunky grey plastic wheel arches suit it well. The 18” wheels look great, and I really like the black roof and pillars, which contrast with the body and give it a different look to other cars in this class. And the colour options are excellent. Hyundai have gone all-out, especially with the Tangerine Comet on our test car. I expected the colour of our test car to be a love/hate thing but I only met people who had positive things to say about it.
The inside of the Kona is less exciting than the outside. Hyundai have kept things pretty simple here, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Apart from the light-coloured headlining, everything is very grey. There are some silver highlights on the dash which help though. The trim in general feels pretty solid.
The seats are clad in dark grey leather, perforated in the centre, and they are very comfortable and supportive. They’re also three-stage heated for those cold mornings. The leather-clad steering wheel has nicely shaped grippy bits at 9 and 3 where your hands sit. Phone and audio control buttons are on one side, cruise control on the other, and they’re laid out well so they’re easy to use.
The instruments are in the familiar style of two large analogue dials for rev counter and speedo with a 4.2” colour central display for trip computer, digital speedo etc. The central 7” touch screen is mounted high. The main functions have physical buttons and knobs for quick access, which I like. The screen is easy to navigate for various functions and settings, and gives a clear image for the reversing camera. There are moving lines on the rear-view image to help you park, as well as sensors front and rear. There is Android Auto and Apple Carplay in all but the base model and I’m happy to report that Bluetooth pairing with my phone was quick and easy.
At the bottom of the central dash are two power sockets, as well as USB and aux inputs for the stereo. In the rear there’s very good leg room for a car in this class, and the 60/40 split rear seat is comfortable. The seat backs fold almost flat to expand the 361 litre boot up to 1143 litres for those bigger purchases.
Hyundai Ireland kicks off the Kona range with a 1.0-litre Comfort model (from €20,995) with 16” alloys, air con, roof rails, cruise control, 5” chrome screen, LED daytime running lights, lane keep assist and a driver fatigue warning system.
The mid-range 1.0-litre Executive model (from €22,995) adds 17” alloys, privacy glass, touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, front fog lamps, and rear view camera.
Premium models (from €25,995) add leather seats, 18” alloys, blind spot detection, front park assist, rear cross traffic alert, black coated grille, door sill inserts and skid plates.
The efficient 1.0-litre three cylinder turbo petrol with 120hp and a 6-speed manual is likely to make up the majority of sales. There is a more powerful four cylinder 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 177hp mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox with 4WD.
On the motorway, the Kona is a pleasure to drive. There’s a little bit of road noise on the rougher roads that I ventured onto but nothing overly concerning. The ride is good, soft enough to take care of bumps well, but not too soft. On twistier back roads, the softer suspension gives some body roll on corners, but not too much. I liked the way the Kona felt to drive and has a car like feel to it. It’s great around town and the tiny 5.3m turning circle makes negotiating narrow streets easy.
The Kona isn’t an off-roader but it has a pretty good 170mm ground clearance, and the 4WD version we drove stuck to the road. In general use, either engine is good, but if you want to have a bit of fun the 1.6t is definitely the better engine choice. The 4WD version is around 200kg heavier than the 2WD, but the extra power of the turbo engine offsets that. Then there’s the fact it has almost 50% more torque, plus an extra gear to really rev things up. I would say the aforementioned 1.0-litre petrol will be a popular choice in Ireland as will be cheap to run and offers enough power for the daily commute.
I found the Kona to be really good to drive. Hyundai has realised that these cars can be fun as well as practical, and has let the engineers inject some of that fun into the driving experience. This is especially the case with the turbo version, which feels really nippy and has enough go to put a smile on your face.
Model Hyundai Kona Premium
Engine Size 1.6-litre T-GDI DCT
Transmission Seven-speed automatic
Acceleration (0-100km/h) 7.9 seconds
Top Speed 205 km/h
CO2 Emissions 153g/km
Road Tax €390 per year
Base Price €20,995
Our Test Model €29,995