Hyundai Kona Review

Caroline drives Hyundai's exciting new compact SUV

Hyundai Kona review ireland
The new Hyundai Kona

Hyundai has completed their SUV line-up with the arrival of the new Hyundai Kona compact SUV.

Hyundai Ireland has really ridden the wave of popularity for SUVs in Ireland over the last few years with the Hyundai Tucson holding the crown of Ireland’s bestselling car in 2016 and 2017. The C-segment SUV counted 4,908 registrations in 2017, with a considerable margin over its closest competitor the Nissan Qashqai.

Now Hyundai Ireland could replicate that success in the segment below. The new Hyundai Kona is a more compact B-segment SUV and is Hyundai’s first offering in this burgeoning class of vehicle, where the Renault Captur currently reigns supreme.

With pricing starting from €20,995 for a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol model with attractive spec and distinctive looks, the Hyundai Kona looks like the Tucson’s trendy younger brother.

Altogether more compact but still with seating for five, the Hyundai Kona has the aggressive presence of a small off roader. There are a range of eye popping colours including Tangerine Comet, Acid Yellow and Blue Lagoon (as well as some more sedate ones), and the option of a black roof on all but the base model for a fashionable bi-colour look.

Hyundai Kona review ireland
The interior of the new Hyundai Kona

Inside, the Hyundai Kona offers a respectable and logically laid out cabin, elevated driving position and good shoulder room between driver and passenger. A 7” inch touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto comes as standard on all but the base model. At night, the dials and switches are illuminated in attractive indigo, while the seats on my Premium model were of good quality and supportive for long journeys. Dark plastics prevail in the cabin but there is the option to add colour packs. Colour accents are featured on the air vent surrounds, around the gearshift, the engine start button ring, the stitching on the seats and steering wheel.

While space up front is generous, the compact nature of the Kona becomes more apparent when you sit into the back of the car, but two adults should be reasonably comfortable. Headroom is fine and the boot houses 361 litres with a flat loading sill for easier loading. 60:40 split folding rear seats reveal 1,143 litres of cargo space when flat.

For now, the Hyundai Kona is available with two turbocharged petrol engines, but there is a diesel on the way later in the year and an electric version is also in the pipeline. 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 but it is more expensive with steeper running costs.

Hyundai Kona review ireland
The Hyundai Kona is launched in Ireland with two petrol engines

On the road, the Hyundai Kona drives well with good composure over a variety of road surfaces and the refinement of a larger car on the motorway. The compact dimensions make it smooth and easy to drive and park, while the steering is not overly light so there is enough resistance for it to hold its own on Ireland’s twisty rural roads.

My test car was a top of the range 4WD 1.6-litre DCT automatic. The combination of the 177hp and automatic gearbox make for a powerful combination, but the 1.0-litre turbo petrol is going to suit the majority of buyers and is more competitive on price and running costs for the segment. The 4WD Kona has a more sophisticated multilink rear suspension than front wheel drive 1.0-litre models, but all indications are that the Kona is a pleasant little crossover with above average road manners.

Hyundai Ireland kicks off the Kona range in Ireland 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.

Hyundai Kona review ireland
The Hyundai Kona is a stylish and capable compact crossover

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 Hyundai Kona makes a style statement and is an excellent addition to the Hyundai range, arguably now the ‘coolest’ car in the Hyundai range with a lot of personality and design flair. The Kona has good perceived quality for its class and is an agile and comfortable compact SUV. A valiant assault by Hyundai on a new segment that should make real impact.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Premium 1.6 T-GDI DCT auto 
€29,995 (€30,595 with two tone roof)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Torque: 265Nm
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 205km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€390 per year