The Hyundai Kona: A breath of fresh air

By Carl Cabusas |October 08,2018 - 11:02 PM

Where the Kona stands out is with its coupe-like silhouette. It’s refreshing to see that the Kona departs from the traditional boxy design of many subcompact SUVs./Photo by Carl Cabusas

Hyundai has a host of crossover SUVs in its lineup; from midsize down to the very compact and subcompact. It also has crossover SUVs for different types of market.

The Creta, for example, is a subcompact SUV developed for the price sensitive, developing countries in Asia and the African regions.

The new Hyundai Kona, meanwhile, is a subcompact crossover SUV, but is meant for the international market, meaning it will be available in most parts of the world.

Together with the Sta. Fe, the Kona now carries Hyundai’s new design language; bold and wide grills, slim profile daytime running lights that sit up high in the bonnet while the actual headlights sit below it.

To start things off, let’s first talk about the things we believe the Philippine-spec Kona lack.

Kona’s overall design is a breath of fresh air, as it is different in a good way (looks and design are always subjective). Some like the design, others don’t. But the sole variant (GLS) available — at least for now — in the Philippines is almost bare by current auto industry standards.

Photo by Carl Cabusas

The exterior is what you would expect from all the other Konas around the world except that our version does not get LED headlights. It does get LED daytime running lights, though.

Body claddings are black, with a not-so-good finish. Tires are also smaller than the other markets, although it gets tire pressure monitoring. Other necessities like back-up camera and back-up sonar are also absent when these are already standard features in the competition.

Kona’s interior design is both modern and very car like in comfort. But the perception of premium package is offset by the abundance of hard plastic, especially in areas where touch is often required; door panels, dashboard and center console, etc.

Other things that would-be owners would notice is the infotainment system, or the lack of it. The location of the head unit is good, except that it lacks a color display, navigation, touch function nor can it be fitted with a back up camera. It doesn’t help that it is a bit fiddly to use too at fist.

Now that we are done with the negatives, let’s point out the Kona’s positive attributes, which actually outweigh the negative.

Where the Kona stands out is with its coupe-like silhouette. Its roofline tapers down towards the rear end without sacrificing rear passenger

headroom. It’s also refreshing to see that the Kona departs from the traditional boxy and boring box design of many subcompact SUVs.

The Kona has also plenty of power (149 ps) and torque for a small crossover, thanks to its 2.0li NU Atkinson gasoline engine.

The Atkinson engine too is said to be economical with 6 forward automatic gears as standard with manual override should you want to change gears yourself. Other standard features that are worth mentioning are the presence of auto headlights, speed sensitive power door locks, cruise control, smart key with button stop/start, front airbags, side airbags and curtain airbags, tilt and telescopic-adjust steering wheel, rear center arm rest, rear power socket for charging gadgets and selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport). It’s like Hyundai held back on giving the Philippine spec’d Kona certain necessities, but offered better than the usual safety package.

Photo by Carl Cabusas

At P1,190,000.00 the Kona is priced just within the competitions price level. At this price point, I expect the competition to have the same level of plasticky interior and a lot of cost cutting measures quite visible to the eye and more so to the touch.

However, Hyundai has given the local Kona variant so much more in terms of safety standard features more than what the current industry demands from these kind of vehicles; it’s got six airbags, four- heel disc brakes, hill descent control, tire pressure monitoring, cruise control and ABS.

But sadly sacrificed the entertainment features for its driver and passengers by not giving a fully capable info-tainment system.

So if you prioritize good driving dynamics, very good safety features and less on creature comforts on your next purchase, you might want to consider the Kona in your short list. It’s fun to drive, value for money and it comes with a new name and a new design.

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