There’s nothing new about ‘influencers’, that cohort of ‘pretty’ girls and boys who lead
youngsters by their credit cards to so-called desirable dressing. For years automobile
manufacturers have used ‘futurists’ to try to predict what the car buyer will want in four
years’ time – the average development period for a new vehicle.

With EVs and hybrids rapidly accelerating up the sales charts the new Hyundai Kona,
including petrol powered-only models, has been designed to look like an electric vehicle –
no radiator grille – the maker claiming this is to make the whole range of the small SUV
blend in with traffic better in the future.

This Hyundai hype was recently reinforced with the new all-electric Kona landing in
Australia in three versions – Kona standard and extended ranges, plus Kona Electric
Premium. More of those at a later date.

The ‘petrols’ on offer at present are a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with a CVT automatic and front-
wheel drive, and a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder with an eight-speed torque
converter automatic and all-wheel drive. I took the former on extended test.

Prices for the second-generation SUV ‘petrols’ start at $32,000 and rise to $46,500, plus
on-road costs. The N-Line pack adds an extra $4000. Considerably more kit does come with
the price premium. The EVs come in at $54.000 for the standard range, topping off at
$68,000 for the Premium.

The new Kona is covered by a five-year $100,000 kilometre warranty and attracts
Hyundai’s Premium Roadside Support Plan free for the first 12 months and renewed annually
for up to ten years so long as the vehicle is serviced by Hyundai.

With the aforementioned nod to electric vehicles, the ICE car’s looks make Hyundai
literally a leading light in automotive design.

The absence of a grille apart, up front the full width of the compact sports utility vehicle is
emphasised by an LED strip light – similar to one which debuted in the Staria – on the
leading edge of the bonnet from wing to wing.

Not far behind is a similar single bar across the rear, highlighting the futuristic (EV) view
from behind. Outboard lighting matches the front triangular set-up. Inside and out the new
Kona is bigger than its predecessor. In profile, apart from muscular wheel arch covers, the
rest is very much de rigueur for the class.

At a tad over 4.3 m long, 1.8 m wide and almost 1.6 m tall, the ‘small’ SUV is more spacious on
the inside too thanks to a 60 mm increase in wheelbase front to back. This translates to much
more leg room in the back compared with before. Head room is more than adequate for the
average adult.

Absent in the 2.0 is a shift-by-wire transmission stalk to the right behind the steering wheel
found in Premium and turbo grades. In its place here is a conventional centre-console

Storage abounds, with bins in the front doors big enough for large bottles and two retractable
cup holders in the centre console, plus a generous glove box, as well as wireless charging,
USB-C jacks and a 12V socket.

Rear doors can take small bottles and there are two cup holders in the fold-down centre
armrest and pockets on the front seat backs. Adjustable ventilation outlets and a pair of USB-C
power sockets are in situ. The boot will hold 407 litres with the rear seat backs raised, or up
to 1241 litres with them folded flat. A space-saver spare is carried.

A high-resolution 12.3-inch widescreen digital infotainment display sits above the centre
stack, which incorporates climate control air-con buttons. Directly in front of the driver is a
digital instrument screen inside a 12.3-inch panel.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto are standard low down the model range,
while Premium variants with satellite navigation have only wired systems. This is due to
change later this year with wireless becoming available to all.

Hyundai’s Bluelink connection enables remote access from a paired smartphone with
vehicle location, remote lock and start services, plus the ability to contact emergency
services in the event of an accident.

The Kona and Kona Premium come with either a naturally aspirated Atkinson cycle 2.0-litre
four-cylinder petrol engine sending 110 kW and 180 Nm at 6200 rpm and 4500 rpm,
respectively, to the front wheels through a CVT automatic transmission.

Hyundai claims a combined urban / highway fuel consumption figure of 6.6 litres per 100
kilometres, while the test car came up with 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres over two weeks of
varied driving conditions.

Kona is on board with Hyundai’s SmartSense safety system, which includes front and rear
autonomous emergency braking (with car, ‘powered two-wheeler’, pedestrian and cyclist
detection), blind spot view and collision avoidance, lane-following and lane keeping assist.

There’s also rear cross-traffic alert, active cruise control, safe exit warning, surround view
monitor, driver attention warning and tyre pressure monitoring. A multi-collision brake is
designed to minimise the chance of additional impacts after an initial crash and an emergency
stop signal function are also standard.

There are seven airbags, including a front centre bag to minimise front occupant injuries in a
side impact, as well as three top tether anchors and two Isofix positions across the rear seat .

On a second (and longer) stint with a Kona N, over two weeks, we covered close to 2000
km, which presented a first for this driver, with the tyre pressure monitor proving its worth.
With all four tyres at recommended maker’s pressure of 33 psi a drop to nine in the rear
near-side tyre pressure showed up on the instrument screen.

Dropping in to the closest tyre shop came up with the result that the tyre in question had
picked up a 5 cm nail where the wall met the running surface. Too dodgy to plug, the
whole tyre was replaced and on we drove.

Riding on the standard 18-inch wheels the Kona kept up a steady, if not always smooth,
march over some neglected city road surfaces and held cabin noise intrusion to an
acceptable level on concrete motorway surfaces.

Steering followed suit with positive feedback from the road, while disc brakes, ventilated at
the front, had little trouble stopping the 1.4 tonne-plus vehicle in the dry-only conditions

Speed presented only one problem and that was purely electronic. The test car speed-sign
recognition indicator suffered from a form of dyslexia: the 10 km/h speed limit registered in
a shopping centre car park remained unchanged through several streets before the
instrument display switched to the correct legal limit. Other speed limits were slow to catch
up and slip roads constantly over-rode the legal motorway limit.

On the other hand, audible constant legal speed limit warnings turned out to be handy
over the long run with constant changing of limits, while lane change alarms at times were
annoying and unnecessary with driver concentration levels high.

In typical Hyundai fashion the new Kona 2.0 stands apart in its class from a design point of
view and it will be interesting to see what the new EV take-up is.

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 6/10
Safety: 7/10
Thirst: 7/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 6/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 7/10

Kona 2.0: $32,000
Kona 2.0 N-Line: $36,000
Kona 2.0 Premium: $39,500
Kona 2.0 Premium N-Line: $42,500
Kona 1.6 turbo N-Line: $40,000
Kona 1.6 turbo Premium N-Line: $46,500
Electric (standard range): $54,000
Electric (extended range): $58,000
Electric Premium: $68,000
Options: Metallic paint $595 (all models); sunroof $1500 (Kona Premium) ; Light grey,
sage green interior $295 (Kona Premium)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai 2.0L 4-cylinder petrol, CVT, FWD)

Capacity: 1.998 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 180 Nm @ 4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Regular unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.6 L/100km

DRIVELINE: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive

Length: 4350 mm
Wheelbase: 2660 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Height: 1590 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6metres
Kerb Mass: 1455 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres


About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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