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Review: 2018 Hyundai Kona Active

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About Mark

Mark Holgate is the driving force behind Exhaust Notes Australia, one of this country's premier automotive websites, with in excess of 1 million visits every year, and literally hundreds of car reviews and motoring stories.

With more than 20 years experience as a journalist, and five years as a professional blogger, he brings a wealth of knowledge about cars, bikes and everything in between.

There's lots to like about Hyundai's new baby SUV -- including loads of technology, funky styling and a host of engine offerings.

While not the first to market, as plenty of rivals are already there, Hyundai has bundled the new Kona with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated and 1.6-litre turbo engine choice, and three finish levels – Active, Elite and Highlander – keeping in line with other SUVs across the range.

It's a baby SUV thing.

It's a baby SUV thing... the 2018 Hyundai Kona Active

Exhaust Notes Australia had the chance to put the Active model variant, with a 110kW 2.0-litre engine and a 6-speed automatic gearbox to the test -- and we're pretty impressed with the baby SUV.

Read more from Exhaust Notes Australia: 2018 Maserati Levante S GranSport

With maximum torque of 180Nm and a 50-litre fuel tank, the front-wheel-drive Kona is a great overall package with a raft of safety features and plenty to like. We even managed to better the claimed fuel economy figure of 7.2-litres/100km, with 7.1-litres/100km.

In fact, the Kona may just have one of the most expansive safety feature lists we’ve seen in a very long time, especially when you consider we’re getting around in what is the base model of the range.

That list includes traction control, electronic brake force distribution, emergency stop signal, electronic stability control, ABS, brake assist, downhill stability control, rear-view camera and reverse parking warnings.

There’s also rollover sensors, impact-sensing auto door unlock, and a host of airbags across the entire range (some six in total). The higher priced Elite and Highlander offerings also gain blind spot and driver attention warnings, forward-collision avoidance, lane-keep assist, and rear-cross traffic warnings.

The bulk of the improved safety options in the Elite and Highlander can be added to the Active by purchasing a Safety Pack – a $1500 optional extra that we think is well worth the additional spend.

External styling is great; not everyone will love it, but we really liked it. We also liked the funky colour combinations available including Chalk White (our test vehicle), Blue Lagoon, Ceramic Blue, Lake Silver, Phantom Black and Tangerine Comet.

If you choose the Elite or Highlander models, you can also change the colour of the roof. The Kona also comes with some nice choices in the alloy wheel department, but does lose some points for only having a space-saver spare wheel.

Inside was pleasantly surprising. Small SUVs mean small interior space. It’s easy to expect big compromises on space in small cars, right? Not so here. There is plenty of room in the front and plenty of leg and head room in the back for average-sized humans.

The cloth seats and interior are nicely finished off, although there’s plenty of plastic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s easier to maintain and stays looking new for longer. It’s quite comfortable to sit in, but better lumbar support would make a long drive less tiring.

The 60/40 split rear seats allow the ample boot space to expand to a respectable 361 litres, meaning there is more than enough room for the weekly shop, a cheeky weekend away, or the kids toys and beach gear for a day out.

Under the boot floor is a cool little shelf that has different sized holes for things you might need to carry, without compromising on the floor space of the luggage area, which is a nice feature.

The tech inside is goodand the 7-inch touch screen is excellent. Android Auto and Apple Car Play make connecting to the system easy and the Bluetooth system is very good, with respectable sound quality.

SatNav is not included in the base model, which would have made the tech perfect, but with Google maps from your connected device, you can pretty much achieve the same result.

Behind the wheel, the driving experience is not brilliant or blistering, but it is comfortable and well behaved. Given the life of the average Kona will include being stuck in traffic in the city, it’s probably pretty much on the money.

As a daily driver it is pretty good and comes loaded with three drive modes, eco, comfort and sport. Comfort and eco are as you would expect, great for around town, and good for fuel saving on the highway – respectively.

Sport shifts the rev range and makes the Kona more responsive overall, while the steering across each of the three settings is a little vague and lacks feedback, but it’s not so bad that you won’t get used to it.

It’s a bit revvy too when you put your foot down, but like the steering, it’s not ghastly. All this, and the $24,500 to $36,000 price range, makes the Kona a good option in the small SUV market.

Our 2018 Hyundai Kona Active was supplied by Hyundai Australia. To find out more, visit your local Hyundai dealer.

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