Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi review

Kona

Compact crossovers are big business, and any manufacturer that wants to compete seriously in the mainstream market should ensure it's good a good one in its portfolio. Hyundai's entrant is the Kona, which looks to provide plenty of value for money, style, and an engaging drive. NGC puts the Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi through its paces.

Review by Chris Lilly

PERFORMANCE

The compact petrol engine used in this Kona can be found in a number of other Hyundai and Kia models, and it's a good one. A lightweight, turbocharged three-cylinder unit, the 1.0 T-GDi is able to return good performance figures without compromising efficiency. In this state of tune, the Kona produces 120hp and 172 Nm of torque, which aren't huge figures, but plenty for most situations. The figures come in at 12.0 seconds 0-62mph and a top speed of 112mph, so there are plenty of quicker options available, but such is the nature of the engine that you don't feel as though the Kona is sluggish at all. The unit revs eagerly and a good action from the six-speed manual gearbox means that it's no shore keeping the petrol engine in the power band. It's not the most relaxing model to drive if you have to crawl through town traffic, where the DCT automatic would make life simpler. However, if you're not regularly wrestling with rush-hour traffic, and spend more time in quieter urban areas, open country roads, and motorways, the Kona performs well. It's not particularly refined, with a thrum that you would expect from the three-pot motor. It quietens down at speed though, and is not unpleasant or overly intrusive at all. Although I haven't driven the Kona with other engines, the 1.0 T-GDi seems well suited to the car, and is likely to prove a popular pick.

HANDLING

There are a great many compact crossovers on the market that handle well, so the Kona is up against tough competition here. To make sure it doesn't disgrace itself, Hyundai has fitted relatively stiff springs to the Kona, and the steering is heavier than you might expect from a compact crossover too. Neither deliver a particularly sporty driving experience, but neither will they put off prospective buyers, as the Kona rides well over all but the worst road surfaces. It's a neat and tidy driving experience rather than a truly dynamic one on offer, but that's a better bet for the majority of the time anyway. The benefit of stiffer springs is that body control is kept well in check, limiting body roll unless cornering very enthusiastically. The steering isn't going to cause any great strain when parking up or navigating tight junctions either, but there isn't much feedback through the wheel, so any weight seems a little redundant. Still, it will appeal to some buyers, and the Kona certainly doesn't feel or handle like a lightweight hatchback, rather it gives the impression that you are driving a sizeable car - just one with a small footprint.

BODY STYLE

The four-square stance, sloping window line, and hardworking surface details mean the Kona stands out from the crowd. It's certainly a distinctive design, if not the most classically stylish, and there is little to put buyers off in terms of aesthetics. The Kona might be SUV-lite, but it can;t match the practicality of a full-fat SUV - though that's fair enough considering the compact size of the Hyundai. It isn't as practical a proposition in the boot or looking at the rear seats as some of its rivals though, which needs to be considered for those looking for a little family workhorse. A conventional supermini will provide more boot space for example, and the Kona doesn't provide much in the way of head and leg room for adults of average size or greater. Kids will ba absolutely fine, and the boot is able to deal with a good supermarket shop, or a few overnight bags for example. Pack a pushchair in the boot though, and ther won't be much space for other loads, and long trips with adults in the rear may not be looked forward to by passengers.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Hyundai Kona 1.0 G-TDi interior

Despite lacking in rear space comparatively speaking, the Kona is a comfortable model, and the driver can get into a good driving position easily. The instruments are simple and easy to read, while the controls throughout feel well built. Materials used compare well with many rivals on upper surfaces, and are harder wearing further down. Despite a huge variety of options available to personalise the Kona, the interior is relatively plain - certainly for the model tested. It's not a riot of colour or striking design details, but then again, it's well laid out, works well, feels solidly built, and is fairly high quality for its class. The centre console is nice and tidy, with a dominant touchscreen system sitting atop the stack to control most functions. Graphics and response rates are about par for the class.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

As mentioned earlier, the compact petrol engine is not the most potent unit on the market, but that means that fuel economy performance is pretty good. The official figure is quoted at 52.3 MPG, with CO2 emissions of 125 g/km, and neither are going to break the bank in terms of running costs for buyers. In real-world conditions, I averaged 46.7 MPG according to the trip computer, with a mixture of driving styles and routes. One commuting route of around 45 miles saw an average of 50.9 MPG shown, so good figures are certainly possible. It's pretty easy to see the figures climb at motorway speeds thanks to a long sixth gear, but if you are in a rush, the fact that you need to work the downsized engine hard will see the numbers tumble too. Anything between 40-45 MPG would be a realistic expectation for most drivers. To tax, the Kona will cost £160 for the first year - included in the car's OTR - and then the Standard Rate of £140 a year thereafter.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The greenest model in the range is the forthcoming Kona Electric, with the pure-electric model expected to prove a new benchmark in the EV market in terms of range for a mass-market price. The 1.6 diesel option beats the petrol's CO2 figures too, though the 1.0 T-GDi will have less effect on local air pollution in general. It's an engine that's designed to be extremely efficient, and the turbocharging allows Hyundai to shrink the size of the engine to a three-cylinder unit from a more conventional four-cylinder block. The model tested was front-wheel drive, which is more efficient than the all-wheel drive available on some models, and few buyers will eve be in a situation in a Kona where they need the added traction. Auto stop/start is fitted, cutting emissions when stationary in traffic. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 44.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

The Kona is pretty well equipped, but you'll have to look at Premium trim and above to get a number of big car features for a real sense of value for money. Despite that, even entry level S trim gets 16-inch alloys, air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows, Bluetooth & USB connectivity with DAB, and multi-function steering wheel. Premium SE tested adds 18-inch alloys, leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, electric driver's seat, heated & vented front seats, leather seat facings, climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, heated steering wheel, parking sensors front & rear, keyless entry and start, 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, heads-up display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, Krell premium stereo, and wireless phone charging.

MODEL SUMMARY

The Hyundai Kona is a good crossover, delivering in a number of areas that drivers want. It looks good, drives well, and is relatively efficient. Specified well it proves good value for money too, though it can't match the practicality offered by some rivals. It's certainly a contender in its class though.

Hyundai Kona 1.0 G-TDi rear

Model tested: Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi Premium SE
Body-style: Compact crossover
Engine / CO2: 1.0 litre petrol / 125 g/km
Trim grades: S, SE, Premium, Premium SE, Premium GT

On-road price: From £16,450. Price as tested £21,450
Warranty: Five years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars

Click here for more info about this model range

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:21st Aug 2018

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