Hyundai has been a little slow off the mark releasing a compact SUV but the Kona is finally here.
The i20-based hatchback is hoping to take a bite out of the lucrative market dominated by the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Seat Arona and its sister company’s car, the Kia Stonic.
Aimed at younger buyers, these small SUVs tend to be more adventurously styled than bigger and more expensive models.
Hyundai hasn’t shied away from being daring, giving the Kona a dramatic shape with nice details such as slit-shaped headlights, an aggressive grille and two tone roof.
Driving through Burntisland, Dalgety Bay and Aberdour on a tour of West Fife’s coastal villages it caused a few heads to turn – though perhaps in part due to my test car’s lime green hue.
Prices stretch from £16,450 to around £25,000 and there’s a choice of 1.0 or 1.6 litre petrol engines or a 1.6 litre diesel available with two power outputs.
The vast majority of Konas will be two-wheel drive but the more powerful of the diesel models can be had as a 4×4.
Hyundai has designed space for underfloor batteries into the Kona and a fully electric model is expected to join the range next year. You can also specify an excellent seven-speed twin clutch automatic gearbox.
There are four trim levels: S, SE, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT. Even entry models come with alloy wheels, hill start assist, lane departure warning, air conditioning and tinted rear windows.
My 1.0 litre Premium SE model cost just over £22,000 and had electric seats, leather upholstery, rear view camera and front parking sensors.
The driving position is higher than a hatchback but far from the lofty heights of a Land Rover or Jeep. The driving position is good and there’s excellent visibility all round.
Ride quality is on the firm side of comfortable and the Kona handles surprisingly well for a taller car. The 1.0 litre engine is punchy and feels peppier than its 12s 0-62mph time suggests.
The funky design continues inside with plenty of body coloured trim (you can even ask for the seatbelts to be the same colour) and a large, easy to use touchscreen. Rear passengers may find legroom a bit tight and the boot’s only medium sized but the Kona is based on a supermini so that’s to be expected.
Hyundai’s five-year warranty is another feather in the cap of a strong contender.