Auto Review: 2018 Hyundai Kona Active

KOREAN car maker Hyundai has completed its suite of SUVs, with the launch of its small SUV offering, the Kona; loaded with technology, funky styling and colours, 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.

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 have to say we’re pretty impressed with the baby SUV.

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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 a 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 roll over sensors, impact sensing auto door unlock, and a host of airbags across the entire range (some six in total), while 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 $1,500 optional extra that we think is well worth the additional spend.

External styling is well, quite frankly it’s 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 as well. 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 too. Small SUVs means 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 as 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 good too and the 7.0-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, and 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 price range between $24,500 and $36,000, 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.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness


Pros - comfortable; roomy; loaded with tech.
Cons - mildly sluggish performance; space saver spare; no SatNav.

Tony Cavanagh
Tony Cavanagh
Tony Cavanagh has always had a thing about cars. He usually owns two at a time (there may also be a motorbike in the garage as well). Excessive maybe, but a car guy is a car guy. He's driven everything from Minis (the original ones) to V8 Commodores and 4WDs, as well as little go fast Japanese buzz boxes and hot hatches. He loves everything automotive, and doesn't have a clear favourite – yet.


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<p><strong>Pros -</strong> comfortable; roomy; loaded with tech.<br /> <strong>Cons -</strong> mildly sluggish performance; space saver spare; no SatNav.</p>Auto Review: 2018 Hyundai Kona Active