Published on January 20th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Hyundai Kona 1.6i Turbo Test Drive Review
Selling a premium product with a challenging import tax system in Malaysia is not easy.
Hyundai marketers have a fascination for American cities when it comes to naming their sport utility vehicles (SUV). The Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe (Hyundai Creta and Veracruz SUV’s are not sold in Malaysia) are named after popular cities. Now comes a brand new compact SUV the Kona. The name Kona is from the sunny Kona District which stretches almost two-thirds of the entire West side of the big Island of Hawaii.
The Hyundai Kona made its first appearance in April 2017 and was set for global sale later the same year. At the time of its global launch, Hyundai Motor was targeting the fast growing popularity of the Subaru XV, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V in many markets. Then UMW Toyota launched their C-HR Crossover in March 2018 to take on the very same segment. (the rivals are pictured below)
For Malaysia, the XV which sells for RM118,000 and the CX-3 selling at RM141,000 already had a good following with the HR-V holding the No.1 sales position with a sizeable lead and an asking price at the time from RM97,000 to RM116,000. The C-HR being fully imported had a higher selling price RM145,000 and so its sales numbers were not very high.
Now, for 2020, Hyundai in Malaysia has decided to bring their challenger to this segment. This is the Kona. Priced from RM115,000 its is fully imported like the C-HR and CX-3.
This Hyundai Kona comes with a rather aggressive body styling emphasizes the car’s well-proportioned, dynamic silhouette. Its low and wide stance complements the car’s stylish profile while the long wheel base and short overhangs ensures sporty and nimble handling.
‘Composite lamps’ enhance the Kona’s high-tech and mechanical appearance. The slim daytime running lights (DRL) incorporate turn signals and are positioned in a ‘stack’, separate to the LED headlights. The rear light configuration is unique for Hyundai. The slim brake lights, turn indicators and reverse lamp are placed in a separate configuration, surrounded by protective skin that begins at the C-pillar garnish.
This compact SUV also adopts Hyundai Motor’s new family identity, the Cascading Grille, featuring a sporty mesh pattern, flanked by exceptional wing-type fenders that dominate the front design.
The unique features of the exterior continue inside, with a strong horizontal character line creating a wide and spacious feel. Even with its compact dimensions and low roof line, the Kona delivers best-in-class interior space.
The sleek and simple layout interior contrasts with the bold, adventurous exterior design. The AVN (Audio, Visual, Navigation) monitor incorporates Hyundai Motor’s advanced infotainment features. The air vents and functional button arrangement reflect the high-tech functionality of the exterior. The controls are surrounded by soft, fluid details.
The SUV like ground clearance and an elevated seating position ensure better visibility for drivers and increases comfort on long journeys.
The Kona designers also optimized interior space to maximize luggage storage capabilities, reflecting the requirements of customers with active lifestyles. The split-folding rear seats fold flat, with a two-level loading floor that allows easy access for a bicycle or golf club storage.
KONA 1.6i Turbo Infotainment
The Kona offers a full suite of sophisticated technologies paired with user-friendly functionality to keep passengers informed and entertained. The premium infotainment system offers various advanced connectivity features, including standard Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™. The standard 7-inch colour LCD display includes AM/FM/MP3 touchscreen audio, auxiliary input jacks, voice-command recognition and Rear View Monitor.
A Heads-Up Display system is available, projecting a virtual image onto the transparent panel mounted behind the instrument panel and helping the driver keep his or her eyes on the road. With a generous, eight-inch projected-image size and outstanding luminance, the Heads-Up Display ensures both excellent day and night-time visibility. Information projected includes speed, navigation instructions, and audio system information. Deployed vertically by a simple touch of a button beside the steering wheel, the display disappears into the dashboard when not in use.
The Kona also offers smartphone wireless charging which is a segment-first feature. To charge a device, simply place a compatible smartphone on the wireless-charging interface located in the centre console storage, recharging without the need for cables. The system indicates when the phone has fully charged, reminds occupants to remove their phones when exiting the vehicle, and detects when a foreign object is in the recharging area that could interfere with charging. The system is fully compliant with Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi standard for ease of use.
KONA 1.6i Turbo Active Safety
Kona offers advanced active safety features, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), which uses the car’s front-facing camera and radar to detect an imminent collision and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking autonomously. Three additional systems also utilize the front-view camera to boost safety and convenience: Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), High Beam Assist (HBA), and Driver Attention Warning (DAW).
By sensing road markings, Lane Keeping Assist helps to prevent accidental lane departure by automatically steering the car if required. High Beam Assist automatically controls the high beam headlights depending on surroundings, while the Driver Attention Warning system monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to detect driver fatigue or careless driving.
Kona radar systems also assist with the Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) to detect approaching vehicles that may be obscured from view during highway driving. The Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW) detects when another vehicle may have entered the car’s rearward path, such as backing out of a parking spot, and provides a driver alert.
KONA 1.6i Turbo Driving
Get inside the Kona and it is a well groomed space. From ignition this Hyundai is quiet and refined. The well insulated cabin keeps engine and traffic noise out. From the driver’s seat looking out the sense and feel of being in a premium car is high with high quality material fit, finish and build. The seats offer good support and firm feel. In city traffic this Kona is like any premium crossover, comfortable, easy to drive and with good all around view. Also the entertainment system does not disappoint. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine mated to the 7-speed gearbox is lively and responsive.
The 177hp engine is docile in traffic speeds and when you work it a little more on the highway, it show its 265Nm of torque. Rear passengers get good space if there are two of them, with a third adult, it is a little tight just like its rivals (except the XV which is slightly wider).
Hyundai has delivered a very stylish vehicle as other road users seem to notice its styling and we even got some curious questions when we parked. Well, it was just launched and there were not many units on the road. Price is a deterrent to high sales success as the recently launched Proton X50 with ‘national car’ tax incentives is much cheaper at RM103,000. However, this is a premium imported vehicle and one with a very good warranty and after sales program.
Take a test drive before completely ignoring it and you might be tempted to make the extra monthly payments to have one in your garage.
Hyundai Kona 1.6i Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder Gamma Turbo GDI
Power: 177bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 265Nm @ 1500-4500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed Eco-Shift Dual-Clutch Auto