The Korean company’s smallest SUV arrives in the UK
It’s amazing manufacturers find the time to make anything other than an increasing range of SUVs these days. The smaller end of this burgeoning sector seems to be filling up fast, and Hyundai is playing its part. This is its third SUV and it’s sort of like an i20 that’s been jacked up in that sort of crossover way like a Seat Arona or a Citroen C3 Aircross. Is there room for even this small SUV?
The version we tried was the 1.0 T-GDI which, despite the ‘D’ is a petrol engine. The turbocharged triple has 118bhp, and will probably prove more popular than the optional 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot with 175bhp. Next year there will be a 1.6-litre diesel and an electric version to fill out the range.
Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi Premium SE
Engine: 1.0-litre, threel-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Torque: 127lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 112mph
CO2, tax band: 119g/km (est), 22%
The 1.0-litre version has a slick six-speed manual box, which is handy as you need to use it a fair bit. The powerband feels reasonably narrow, so you’re stirring away and revving away more than you’d like, but at least even at extremes the engine is smooth and quiet.
The steering is hardly a highlight. It’s heavy, slow and if it’s talking to anyone it certainly isn’t the driver. The handling doesn’t inspire either, with a marked tendency to roll around in a way we’ve got used to top-heavy SUVs mostly avoiding. Which means the ride is bound to be comfy, right?
The ride leads to bumps and thumps getting into the cabin as you feel just too much of what’s going on under you. The only possible upside is that we were on 18in rims and maybe smaller rims, such as the standard 16in wheels, would reduce that tendency.
The thumps come into a cabin which is generally of high quality, with soft materials and well-weighted switchgear. The driver will be able to get comfy enough, as will the front passenger, but rear passengers are going to notice they have less space than in a Renault Captur or similar. And everyone will notice they can’t get all their bags in the 334-litre boot, again not measuring up against a Captur or the C3 Aircross.
Hyundai throws in a lot of kit, even on the base level, but you need to go to mid-range trim at least before you get a seven-inch infotainment screen, and higher still before it becomes an eight-inch unit – that’s a good one, and well equipped. There’s also quite a lot of personalisation on offer, including unusual items like the seatbelt colour, so you can make this very much your own.
The question is whether you’d want to. As it stands the Kona has less interior space than the better competitors, smaller boot, worse ride and handling, and a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that isn’t up with the best similar units on the market. It isn’t the most frugal or the cheapest either. Upsides? We have yet to try it on smaller wheels which might improve matters, and we’ll see whether Hyundai announces competitive finance deals. For now, this is just another small SUV to join a growing pile.