First drive in the new Hyundai Kona

Ah, the new Hyundai Kona! Before I start this review, I have something else I want to chat about first: Car names. Naming a car can be a complicated affair. What some might consider a pretty average word in, say, English, might have a completely different meaning in another language. Manufacturers really do have to be careful and many will rather stick to naming their cars after animals (think Viper, Colt, Jaguar, Cobra) or after places like Tucson, Monterey, Murano. Some just keep it simple and use a numbering system like BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Peugeot. The reason I am telling you all of this is because Hyundai likes to name its cars after places, like the mentioned Tucson or Santa Fe. What you might not know, because Hyundai didn’t either, is that some of the name choices refer to, well to put it bluntly, vaginas. Or more specifically, labia minora (giggle, giggle – gosh I am so immature). This is the case with both the Creta and the now new Kona. The name Creta, while totally fine in most places, had to be changed to the ‘Hyundai Cantus” in the Dominican Republic because the word “creta” refers to labia minora there. It gets even better with the name Kona, which is actually named after a village in Hawaii, but to those who live in Portugal it would be the equivalent to us calling it c*nt, (interestingly enough, also spelt with a “c” – as in cona). Glorious! That is just glorious!

But anyway, back to the cun…I mean Kona. This car will sit just above the Hyundai Creta and below the Tucson. It’s a crossover that will compete with the likes of the Ford EcoSport and Renault Captur to name just two. This car is not as practical as the Creta, but Hyundai believe it is the styling that will attract its customer. It’s targeted at young, hip singles or those who are middle-aged but young at heart. Possibly even an empty nester who really doesn’t want to let go of times gone by.

Hyundai Kona

The styling is pretty cool in a quirky and unique way. I love the look of the front, it is the rear that I have questions about and that’s only because of the C-shaped light clusters positioned quite low. Step inside and it’s not as quirky or as out there as one might have expected. Although, if you opt for the Acid Yellow exterior paint job (Acid Yellow? Why that name? I can’t get bile out of my head when I see it) you get bright yellow piping and helluva bright yellow seatbelts. The other interiors have red piping which is a touch more subtle. It’s well specced with features such as cruise control, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear park distance control with a rear view camera, traction control and, for the first time on a Hyundai, a tyre pressure monitoring system. It also boasts 6 airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist.

There is only one choice of trim, Executive, but you have a choice of two engines. A 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Can you guess which one I prefer? You won’t believe it, but I choose the 1.0-litre manual. I mean, I do love an auto gearbox, and so will those of you who sit in traffic for most of your day. But this 1.0-litre engine is super refined and performs better on the open road. It’s nippy enough and the smooth shifting gear box makes for such a pleasant driving experience.  The ride was ever so rough, but I put this down to the road conditions and not necessarily a harsh suspension set up. The steering is super sensitive, even if direct, which can make for an erratic feeling if you’re not used to it.

The big question is; was Hyundai’s decision to bring this Kona to our market a good one? Well, obviously time will tell. It’s tricky to predict whether buyers will opt for a less practical but more expensive offering than the Creta. But not everyone needs their car to be as practical. Some of us don’t have kids and so don’t need that extra space. Some of us are more about the looks (the Mazda CX-3 comes to mind). So if you are in the market for a Crossover/SUV vibe and love the heck out of the Kona’s styling, you will not be disappointed. Just don’t shout the name at any Portuguese-speaking folk.


Kona 1.0 TGDI Executive Manual – R379 900

Kona 2.0 NU Executive Automatic – R399 900

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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