Hyundai South Africa has taken a gamble in launching the crossover Kona to compete alongside the Tucson and, to an extent, the Creta – where other markets have selected only the former or the Tucson.
Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive SA, acknowledges it is a calculated plan but believes the Kona will complement, rather than take away from, the Tucson range adding: “We see the Kona buyer as a completely different person to the Tucson buyer.”
Hyundai’s new crossover model is launched in the local market with derivatives sporting a high specification level and a choice between two engines – including a perky 3-cylinder turbo-charged petrol power source that, based on general comments from journalists at the launch is the engine of choice.
“The Kona is an important milestone in Hyundai Motor’s journey. The quality of the exterior and interior design and the fit and trim level in the cabin bears testimony of the status that Hyundai has achieved as one of the top automotive brands in the world,” says Anderson.
“We are launching the Kona with a 2,0-litre naturally aspirated engine and the new 1,0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo engine that is frugal, yet powerful enough to make a drive in the Kona an exciting experience. The whole package is exciting and modern and represents our brand with pride.”
The Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive (manual) enters the local market at a launch price of R379 900, while its sibling, the Kona 2.0 NU Executive (automatic), comes with a price ticket of R399 900.
Both models are front-wheel driven. The 1,0-litre turbo-engine delivers its power via a 6-speed manual gearbox, while the 2,0-litre naturally aspirated version uses a six-speed automatic gearbox with the option of manual shift.
The exterior design boasts muscular sculpted shapes, sleek LED lighting and one-of-a-kind details that highlight the DNA borrowed from its SUV siblings.
A striking design feature of the Kona is its twin headlight design with LED Daytime Running Lights that create an unmistakable front signature, while 17-inch alloy wheels, standard on both derivatives, further contribute to the bold character of the car.
Daniel Kim, a senior designer at Hyundai America’s Design & Engineering Centre in Irvine, California, who was in charge of exterior design during the development of the Kona, summarises their approach to the car’s design: “The basic thinking was to give the all-new Kona slim, modern and high-tech daytime running lamps.
“This was a priority as it is one of the main things people notice all the time, whether it’s during the day or at night, which makes it appealing and visible. We took this opportunity to create something unique by having a main projection lamp integrated with fender cladding. Overall, this gives it a protective, but tough and modern aspect.”
The interior of the Kona come with two distinctive colour themes: Lime, for the Acid Yellow exterior colour; and Red, for the other four exterior colours. The interior colour accents are featured on the air vent surrounds, around the gearshift, the engine start button ring, the stitching on the seats and the steering wheel.
Kevin Kang, creative manager of interior design at Hyundai America’s Design & Engineering Centre in California who was in charge of interior design during the development of the Kona, says: “My main personal highlight of the all-new Kona is the bold character line that hugs around the outside vents, which gives the interior a wide and engaging feel. This is complemented by a balance of smooth, contoured surfaces and high-contrast elements that create a rather unique character.”
The floating screen of the 7-inch navigation touchscreen in its ergonomic position allows drivers to stay tuned to the traffic ahead at all times. The infotainment system, with its excellent sound from four speakers and two tweeters, integrates navigation, media and connectivity features, and the Display Audio allows passengers to mirror their smartphone’s content onto the system’s 7-inch display via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Kona offers plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. The front-seat legroom, measuring 1 054 mm, and 880 mm for passengers in the rear, are both generous. With a trunk capacity of 361 litres (VDA) that can be increased by removing the hidden storage tray, the Kona is optimal for weekend escapes and longer trips. When large objects are transported, the 60:40 split rear seat back rest creates the necessary space.
The all-new Kona comes with air-conditioning, rear passengers’ arm rest with cup holders, and the 7-inch infotainment system that links to CarPlay on Apple iPhones or Android Auto on Android cell phones. Remote control buttons on the height and reach-adjustable steering wheel enables the driver to operate the speed cruise control, answer phone calls, toggle the onboard computer’s information screens and change radio stations or mute the sound system.
The Kona’s Kappa 1,0-litre T-GDI 3-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine provides 88 kW at 6 000 r/min and 172 Nm maximum torque between 1 500 r/min and 4 000 r/min. It is a perky 998 cc engine that gets its boost from a turbo-charger equipped with an electronically controlled waste-gate actuator, which improves fuel efficiency by reducing pumping losses as well as improving throttle response and low-end torque.
The unit features a six-hole GDI injector, pressured to a higher-than-average 200 bar, securing a clean combustion.
Power goes to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. The maximum speed of the Kona 1.0 TGDI is 181 km/h and fuel consumption, measured in a real-life combined cycle, can be as low as 6,8 l/100 km.
The Atkinson 2,0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine employed in the Kona 2.0 NU Executive delivers 110 kW at 6 200 r/min. and maximum torque of 180 Nm is reached at 4 500 r/min. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a six-speed automatic gearbox, also delivering its power to the front wheels.
It can reach a maximum speed of 194 km/h and recorded fuel consumption of 7,2 l/100 km on a combined urban/open road test cycle.
The active safety features include an anti-lock braking, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Downhill Brake Control, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning.
Passive safety features include driver and front passenger air bags, complemented by curtain and side-impact air bags.
Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive Manual – R379 900
Kona 2.0 NU Executive Automatic – R399 900
It includes a 7 years/200 000 km manufacturers’ warranty (comprising the 5 years/150 000 km warranty with a 2 years/50 000 km drivetrain warranty); a 5 year/90 000 km service plan; and 5 years/150 000 km roadside assistance.