Hyundai Kona 1.6 T-GDi 4x4 Premium GT
There is no denying that Small SUVs are starting to take over the world. The all new Hyundai Kona is a bit of a looker, although some may argue that its not. The Premium GT is equipped with an adaptive 4-wheel drive, meaning improved fuel economy for a car putting power to all 4 wheels. The Kona comes with plenty of equipment, but lacks practical rear and boot space compared to its rivals.
In recent years the small SUV segment has exploded! The latest to join the party is Hyundai with the Kona.
In order to distinguish itself against its rivals, Hyundai have given the Kona a distinct design. There’s no doubt that the Kona’s exterior is going to divide opinions, you could say it’s a bit of a Marmite car.The car is equipped with a sports jacket, bringing splashes of aggressive creases and it’s not surprising given the cars designer.
The Kona was designed by Luc Donckerwolke who previously designed the Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo. If you look hard enough, you can see little flashbacks to his earlier creations.
At the front you’ll find a large, deep front grille, with a (fake) air intake just above to give the car a more aggressive finish. Either side of the front grille are slim, split LED headlights, and a contrasting silver front bumper.
The car was finished in a basic grey; however, Hyundai do offer two paint groups for customers to choose from. We really liked the grey, especially when offset against some chrome trims.
To the side, you’ll notice the use of black plastics around the wheelarches, just in case you’re going off road in the Kona.
Our test model also came with chunky 18 inch alloy wheels. The alloys have a contrasting dark colour to offset against the standard alloy finish, giving them a more premium look.
To the rear, the chiselled tail-lights are a continuation from the front design. The contrasting plastic over the arches continues round to the rear, finishing off the bumper.
There’s no doubt that the Kona ticks the stylish box in what’s an already style led segment. That said, it all depends on your taste & whether you’re a fan of Marmite.
Inside, it’s clear that the interior doesn’t cause as much as an argument as the exterior. The car is far more conventional compared to others in the segment.
There’s a lot of black on black with the odd splash of body colour contrast. To be honest, the interior does feel a little boring. It’s no different to any other Hyundai, and fails to match the exciting style of the exterior.
To the front of the car there’s little more to complain about. The dashboard is practically laid out, with conventional dials, an 8 inch touchscreen display to the middle of the dash with all the usual controls you require underneath.
Interior quality is a bit of a mix. Hyundai has used several different types of plastics, some soft touch, and quite a bit of hard plastics. The contrasting materials do help to lift the dull interior, but it could have done with some more soft to touch.
Opting for our test model, the Premium GT, you also get a head-up display, which we rarely see in many cars at this price point.
To the rear of the car, there’s little more for excitement. The black on black continues, with the small use of some soft touch plastics & hard plastics.
Our test car featured a 1.6 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. The engine delivers 177PS and 265Nm of torque. Hyundai also offers a smaller 1.0 litre engine, along with a 1.6 litre Diesel engine in 2WD only.
In summary, the engine feels punchy for a small SUV. The Kona can hit 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds which isn’t slow for an SUV. In fact, it’s not slow by any standards: the Kona could surprise a few cars if you were to catch them unawares.
The performance is largely helped by the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and adaptive all-wheel drive system. The gearbox does an excellent job at changing gear, just not to the high standards of a VW/Audi DSG but it’s not half bad.
The only negative is the lack of paddle shifters, so if you want to change gear manually, you’re going to have to use the shifter. And there’s a lack of immersion in doing so.
Another minor criticism is the engine note, which is a little harsh in the cabin as you climb up the revs. A symposer system would have improved sportiness. Also, the twin exhaust does nothing to produce any nice noise, but perhaps we were expecting too much from a small SUV.
That said, the engine is perfect for effortlessly cruising down the motorway or popping into town. In fairness, it’s a nicely balanced package for a small SUV.
Across the board crossovers are never going to be the most thrilling of cars to drive. This is largely because they are often nothing more than hatchbacks on stilts. The higher centre of gravity causes more body roll.
During an everyday drive, the ride is comfortable and the Kona absorbed bumps and potholes well.
The steering was nicely weighted, allowing the car to feel nimble and responsive around tight bends. The 1.6 T-GDi test model comes with a different chassis to the base models. The rear suspension is more complex.
Tied with the 4-wheel drive system, the Kona was able to apply power in the corners in a surprising fashion, better than some sportier hatchbacks!
However, on more spirited drives the tall body, and body roll becomes more apparent and understeer starts to appear. The understeer isn’t bad though, and it’s very manageable. Once the car shifts some of the excess power to the rear axle, the Kona’s front end tends to hang on when you give it the beans.
Its also refreshing to see a small SUV with 4-wheel drive. Given that the U in SUV stands for ‘Utility’ its surprising that not many small SUVs come with the option. As such, it allows the Kona to stand out against its rivals.
Economy is a bit of a strange area for the Kona. Our test car, with the 1.6 litre engine can only achieve 40.4 mpg on a combined cycle. To top this, the Kona has a CO2 emission of 158g/km which is relatively high in its class.
The above figures are due to Hyundai including a dual-clutch auto gearbox and the adaptive all-wheel drive system. Naturally, these systems eat fuel, however Hyundai have opted for an ‘adaptive’ all-wheel drive system.
Essentially, the all-wheel drive system will only apply power to all 4 wheels when required. However, when driving down a normal road, the car will stay in 2-wheel drive to improve fuel economy. Put your foot down, and the car will instantly put power to all 4 wheels.
Based on the above, we would expect fuel economy to be more in the mid-40s, however you can’t complain. Drive a little more enthusiastically and you can soon see the consumption figure drop.
The smaller 1.0 litre petrol engine will manage a combined figure of 52.3 mpg, so if you want to save pennies on your petrol bill, opt for the smaller engine.
In terms of VED, the first year rate of £515 is absorbed into the (reasonable) list price, and then £140 thereafter. No danger of a surcharge either, thanks to the Kona’s price tag being far under £40,000.
Given that small SUV’s are aimed at the family lifestyle, it’s safe to assume that passenger space & boot capacity is of paramount importance.
Passenger space in the rear of the Kona is fairly disappointing. Rear leg, knee and room for an adult was limited and longer journeys in the car will be uncomfortable. That said, for the kids, the rear is plentiful and comes equipped with ISOFIX mounting points on the outer seats as standard.
The middle seat has a bizarre-shaped headrest that looks like it’ll do more harm than good, just watch our 3 Good 3 Bad video to see exactly what I mean.
In terms of rear boot space, the Kona has just 334 litres which is actually no more than you get in many superminis. There’s definitely more space in other small SUVs, but the boot is still useable and features a nice, large opening.
Fold the rear seats down and you’ll get 1,116 litres of space & features a flat load-bay thanks to the variable floor divider.
Here’s where we’re always impressed with the Koreans. Hyundai packs a lot of kit into its cars as standard, and the Kona Premium GT is no exception.
Inside the Kona featured an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen display with an eight-speaker KRELL audio system. Sat-Nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay comes as standard with the car.
If you search hard enough, you’ll find a button to release a heads-up display. Access into the Kona is via keyless entry with a push-button start. To aid parking there’s a reversing camera. For comfort there’s a heated steering wheel, along with heated and cooled front seats.
To help keep you safe on the road, the Kona includes autonomous emergency breaking, blind spot detection and lane departure warning system.
The added safety features and driver assistance systems ensure the Kona scores 5 stars in the Euro NCAP ratings. So, you can be confident it will keep you and the family safe. As always, the level of safety equipment will ensure that insurance bills remain on the cheaper side.
Not too many years ago the likes of a heated steering wheel would be inconceivable on what is essentially a family hatchback. We’d expect them on a top spec German vehicle! But the fact is these creature comforts are easy to get used to, making the Kona feel like a treat.
Value For Money
The Hyundai Kona range starts at £16,900 OTR for the 1.0 T-GDi . The most expensive model is our test car, the 1.6 T-GDi Premium GT which costs £25,445 OTR. Granted, you get a lot of equipment, but its still a significant amount of cash for a small SUV.
The only optional equipment you can add onto the Kona is metallic paint £565, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition £235, Sunroof £420 or a Two Tone Roof for £420. The Kona is also backed by Hyundai’s 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty to give you peace of mind.
In terms of long-term figures, time will only tell. A car with adaptive 4-wheel drive, and the level of equipment on offer should retain its value in the long term. Especially if you consider that selling the car in 3 years’ time will still retain 2 years of its original warranty for added comfort.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||177PS at 5,500rpm|
|Max torque||265Nm at 1,500-4,500rpm|
|Drivetrain||7-speed DCT automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||50 litres|
|Fuel consumption||40.4 mpg, combined cycle|
|CO2 emissions||158 g/km|
|Kerb weight||1,392 kg|
|Towing capacity||1,250kg braked / 600kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||334 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£25,445|