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REVIEW | 2022 Hyundai Kona offers a great mix of strengths

20 January 2022 - 15:07 By Waldo Swiegers
Ride quality is superb, even on roads that are less than perfect.
Ride quality is superb, even on roads that are less than perfect.
Image: Supplied

December is definitely not a time to be blue. Unless it is “Surfy Blue” as is the case with the Hyundai Kona we got to sample over the past month.   

The 2.0 Executive automatic model we were in is the entry-level version, with a 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated engine, paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with seven steps. Meanwhile, the more expensive 1.6 TGDI model features a turbocharged motor and an eight-speed dual clutch gearbox. From a specifications perspective, buyers are unlikely to feel short-changed by the more affordable of the duo.

The 2.0-litre engine in our test vehicle proved competent, offering a decent amount of poke, with outputs of 110kW and 180Nm. The CVT does a good enough job in most situations, though it prefers a less sporty driver to get the best out of it.    

Like most transmissions of this type, the drone of the engine does intrude when going up hills or when overtaking, but for the most part it is surprisingly quiet and smooth. Hyundai claim a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.5l/100km, but that proved to be a tad optimistic.    

Hyundai claim a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.5l/100km, but that proved to be a tad optimistic.
Hyundai claim a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.5l/100km, but that proved to be a tad optimistic.
Image: Supplied

On a round trip to Ermelo in Mpumalanga from Pretoria driving at the speed limit, the Kona managed 7.2l/100km (with actual measurement at the filling station) and around town it hovered around the 9l/100km figure. The cruise control system is slightly frustrating. It struggles to maintain the desired speed constantly, which could confuse other drivers. It would speed up on a downhill and slow down on an uphill by up to 10km/h from the desired speed.

The ride quality is superb, even on roads that are less than perfect. The overall feel of the Kona on the road inspires confidence in the driver. It has a sporty streak — the suspension errs on the stiffer side, but works very well and the 215/55/17 tyres are hushed, provided the road surface is smooth.

The power steering is a fair bit heavier than one would expect, and does take some getting used to. The different driving modes on offer are a bit of a gimmick, and we found ourselves leaving it in Comfort mode for the most part of the month. It offers the best balance of performance and comfort, as the Sport mode does not do much more than bring out the worst in the CVT.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is a treat to use thanks to a bright infotainment screen.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is a treat to use thanks to a bright infotainment screen.
Image: Supplied

The interior of the Kona is a comfortable place to be. Everything looks and feels quite good, with evidence of hard plastics used in places where one would not be touching all the time. The artificial leather-clad seats are a highlight. They offer great support and are extremely comfortable. They don’t tire the driver or passengers, even on extended trips. The boot will swallow a weekend’s luggage for two people with ease. The rear seats also fold down to have a 60/40 split for when more space is needed.   

The infotainment system works as it should. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is a treat to use thanks to a bright screen. Wireless charging for your phone is a bonus. The automatic climate control works well at regulating the cabin temperature — and the cooling system borders on arctic.

The styling of the Kona is bound to have polarising opinions. We think it looks modern and exciting. Some would say the nose looks like it is two cars jammed on top of each other. The thin strip of daytime running lights add a shark-like aesthetic to the front, with the headlight lower down being the gills and the grille being its mouth. In the “Surfy Blue” colour, the shark reference is perhaps not the best comparison, but it is sure to turn heads with the combination.

As an overall package at R464,500, the Kona offers fairly good value for money. It comes with a five-year/150,000km warranty from Hyundai and a five-year/75,000km service plan. Our time with the Kona was enjoyable and we think many SA consumers will find its ease-of-use, expressive looks and dependable nature endearing.


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