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Not just cute: Hyundai's practical and economical Kona SUV now on sale in Northern Ireland

Hyundai's small SUV, the Kona, is now on sale across Northern Ireland. It's a handsome car, but has it got what it takes to make it in a cut-throat market?

Although Hyundai were quick off the mark in the larger and mid-size SUV markets with the Santa Fe and Tucson respectively, they were late to the small SUV party.

Hyundai's answer to its late arrival is to make it stand out. Its new Kona compact SUV does precisely that by making a bold design statement and some effective use of colours.

Oh, and some innovative use of technology aimed at making it a winner with both parents and kids.

What's the design like?

On the small side compared to the Santa Fe and Tucson, but cute and quite standout-ish with lots of personalisation options.

On the outside, there's a big hexagonal grille, stacked headlamps and some striking use of black cladding.

Add in contrast detailing, short overhangs, a low roof line with roof rails as standard, and you have one of the most attractive cars in its class. It comes in four vivid colours.

Inside, there isn't that much change from its i20 sibling, apart from some dabs of matching colour to brighten things up and connect with the exterior design.

Sitting as it does size-wise between/the i20 and i30 - it rides on its own platform - the Kona is roomier than you might think; which will help in the fight against rivals like the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka X.

Some tech has been imported from the i30 to give the Kona an added competitive edge, including an eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav on some trim levels.

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Hyundai's small SUV, the Kona

Powerplant and transmission

The Kona is now on sale with just two petrol engines available so far, but a diesel is due along shortly.

All the powerplants will be familiar to existing Hyundai drivers, including the 1.0 T-GDi three-cylinder petrol unit deploying 118bhp, and a 175bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit. The most fuel-efficient petrol will officially return almost 55mph.

The forthcoming 1.6 CRDi diesel will output 131bhp and will likely bump the mpg figures up into the mid 60s.

There are two and four-wheel drive variants, and transmission comes in manual six-speed and seven-speed DCT dual-clutch auto guises.

Trim and models

Trim levels run from S to SE, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT. There is a high level of standard safety kit and tech, with Driver Attention Alert, Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control standard on all models.

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Hyundai's small SUV, the Kona

Entry-level model

Prices for S trim start at £16,195 - it comes with the lower-powered petrol engine, six speed manual 'box, 16" alloys, plus body coloured bumpers, door handles and door mirrors, as well as a rear spoiler.

Other goodies include a 5" LCD centre console display, 6 speakers, USB and AUX connections.

It all adds up to a nicely-specced entry-level car served up with a significant dollop of panache for its price point.

For £1,300 more, however, SE trim chucks in 17" alloys rear parking sensors and rear camera, with 7" touchscreen centre console display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

Higher level trims

Premium spec adds yet more goodies silver rear skid plate and side body mouldings, climate control with automatic defog function, a high-end KRELL premium audio system, and a wireless phone charging pad.

Premium SE (£21,195) chucks in a Head Up Display which projects relevant information directly to the driver's line of sight.

By the time you reach Premium GT at £24,995, you have the 1.6 T-GDi 177PS engine mated to a 7-speed DCT 4WD system. Technology abounds, for example the Safety Pack which includes Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition.

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Hyundai's small SUV, the Kona

Who's it for?

The Kona's styling won't be for everyone, but it looks great and will carve out a strong niche in this growing market. Singles, young and not so young couples, and small families should all have a look.

An all-electric version is reportedly on its way - which will likely increase its desirability in other key niche groups.

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