Tasty brew: 2018 Hyundai Kona revealed

As you may have noticed, Hyundai names its SUVs and crossovers after places.

Tucson and Santa Fe are cities in the USA. Creta takes its name from the island of Crete. And Kona is a moku, or district, on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s also home to some excellent Arabica that, rather like Champagne or Port, can only be called Kona if it’s grown and processed there.

Just as the coffee is rather special, so, too, is the car. Although your reporter duly noted that Hyundai’s Kona, first shown to the world in June 2017 and released here just recently, is very close in price and size to Creta, there are important differences.

The slick interior of the Kona catches the eye.

Apart from engines – 1600cc, either petrol or diesel, for Creta and 1.0 turbopetrol or free breathing 2.0 for Kona – the new car is noticeably more upmarket in build-quality and fittings.

Kona, for example, offers cruise control, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and tyre-pressure monitoring that Creta does not. While we’re rubbing it in, the new car also provides ESP, downhill brake control and hill-start assist. And more shoulder room. To be fair, though, its boot is 41 litres smaller and it carries five litres less fuel.

The Opel Grandland X 1.6T

Similarities include, but are not restricted to, McPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension; disc brakes at both ends; anti-submarining seats covered in imitation leather; reversing camera; parking distance warning and the expected safety kit – six airbags, ISOFix mountings and four-channel ABS with EBD.

Connectivity options include Bluetooth, USB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If that isn’t yet available in the Google Play Store by the time you read this, go to https://www.apkmirror.com/google-inc/android-auto-3-7-5840-release/ and download from there. Your phone’s operating system must be Android 5.0 or newer.

Breaking with tradition, designer Luc Donckerwolke lifted Kona’s daytime running lights up to just below the bonnet shut line. That’s for visibility. And he moved the headlamps down in line with the centre of the grille, because they look friendlier there.

The 998cc turbopetrol engine, that we mentioned a few paragraphs up, is this particular configuration’s first appearance in South Africa. We know the all-aluminium Kappa ll mill, in its naturally aspirated form, from the latest Grand i10, but this turbocharged version is new to us down here at the bottom of Africa. It features gasoline direct injection and a small, single-scroll turbocharger with electrically controlled wastegate. It’s identified as T-GDI and was first fitted to European-spec i20s in 2015.

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As a start, we will have two models here – the one-litre, three-cylinder turbomotor matched to a six-speed manual gearbox and the two-litre naturally aspirated engine paired with Hyundai’s trusty six-cog automatic. We drove both versions on the KZN press launch, but couldn’t really extend them because the rain was hissing down and visibility was terrible.

The consensus among those who attended, though, was that turbo with manual was everyone’s favourite.

As for colours, you could have ‒–Acid Yellow (a psychedelic shade of lime) paired with lime green seatbelts, upholstery and steering wheel stitching, and similarly coloured highlights around gearshift, engine start button and vents. Other choices are Lake Silver (medium grey), Pulse Red (quite deep), Dark Knight (as black as coffee should be) and Chalk White. These are matched with red interior highlights like those described above.

Finally, just as your choice of Kona can now be coffee or crossover, this new Hyundai is one fine little brew.

● Information gathered at a manufacturer-sponsored press event.

The numbers
Prices: 1.0 T-GDI manual R379 900; 2.0 MPI automatic R399 900

1.0T engine: 998cc, three-cylinder, DOHC 12-valve turbopetrol
Power: 88kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 172Nm between 1500 and 4000rpm
Zero to 100km/h: 12.0 seconds
Top speed: 181km/h
European combined cycle fuel consumption: 6.8 l per 100km

2.0 MPI engine: 1999cc, four-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve
Power: 110kW at 6200rpm
Torque: 180Nm at 4500rpm
Zero to 100km/h: 10.0 seconds
Top speed: 194km/h
European combined cycle fuel consumption: 7.2 l per 100km

Tank: 50 litres
Luggage: 361 to 1143 litres
Warranty: 5 years/150 000km with roadside assistance
Drivetrain: A further 2 years/50 000km (total 7 years/200 000km)
Service plan: 5 years/90 000km