Hyundai has a strong lineup of models in its Kona series – everything from a relatively basic petrol engined models all the way up to a full electric. Much as we enjoy getting behind the wheel of any electric car this week’s road test review is the Kona Elite variant.

At $31,600 plus on-road costs it’s far more affordable than the (Gulp) $64,000 Highlander Extended Range full-electric model.

The Kona is sold in a crowded class, with its major competitors being Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 Mitsubishi ASX and Toyota C-HR.

Kona is a cross between a hatchback and an SUV in its shape. The protection around the wheels arches adds to the SUV look. The body is stylish without going over the top.

We particularly like the front with its high-level daytime running lights and the low-slung headlights.

Ground clearance is 170mm which is higher than the typical on-road hatchback but falls well short of the 210mm in “real” four-wheel drives. That 170mm does add to the appearance, though.

There’s an upmarket look inside the Kona, though the materials themselves don’t have the feel to match that look. Fair enough because it’s sold at a far lower price than the prestige cars and money has to be trimmed somewhere.

We like the practical dashboard with its large dials and an easy to see centre display set at the same level as the instruments so you spend minimum time looking away from the road to check it.

The Elite model has an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system, we found the setup of the speakers and gave us the sort of sound we like.

The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine sits across the front of the Hyundai Kona and produces 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque at a rather high 4500 rpm. Those revs mean most drivers will seldom go as high as 4500, however there’s reasonable punch below that number.

The automatic transmission is a continuously variable transmission to maximise performance and minimise petrol consumption. More about the auto in the Driving section of this review.

As part of the mid-life makeover the CVT replaced the six-speed conventional auto previously used.

All Kona variants have received five stars from ANCAP. It has six airbags, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist and lane-following assist.

The Kona Elite model also has blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and safe-exit warning. The automatic emergency braking recognises cars, pedestrians and cyclists at low and high speeds.

It also has rear occupant alert in case you’ve forgotten there are kids in the back seats when you get out. No doubt it has happened somewhere sometime.

Let’s get to the CVT automatic straight away as that’s what friends have been asking me about due to my previous complaints about CVTs in other cars. There’s good news as Hyundai’s engineers have got it pretty well sorted out and have given it a feeling of having preset ratios, it did jar a little but we soon ceased to notice what was happening under the bonnet.

You can sort of use it as a manual by changing ‘gears’ if you feel that way inclined. After trying this we simply left if to do its own thing.

There’s less room in rear seat of the Kona than we had expected, meaning I had to move my driving seat forward a couple of notches to provide knee room for anyone behind me.

The Koreans have a long history of tuning their cars to suit Australian roads and what we Aussie drivers like in the way of handling and comfort. Kona is obviously not a sports car but does hold on nicely during cornering and gives good feedback through the steering while and your backside.

It’s a bit noisy on gravel road and there’s some bump-thump on concrete road joins such as those on our road test section on the M1 motorway between Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Fuel consumption during our test period was in the 8 to 10 litres per hundred kilometres in town and suburban driving. It fell to five to six litres per hundred on country and motorway testing.

All Hyundais have a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and a lifetime capped-price-servicing plan.

The updated Hyundai Kona Elite is a pleasant car that’s easy to live with. We feel the added ‘extras’ now fitted as standard, particular in the safety features makes it a must on your short list of cars to be seriously considered.


Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Kona Elite 2.0-litre petrol five-door hatch)

Capacity: 1.999 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 180 Nm @ 4500 rpm
Fuel Type: 91 RON petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.2 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 148 g/km

DRIVELINE: Continuously variable transmission

Length: 4205 mm
Wheelbase: 2600 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1550 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1280 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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