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Hyundai launches the third addition to its SUV line-up – and it’s going to be a hit

Irish drivers like bulky Hyundais. That much was made clear by both the Santa Fe and the Tucson, the latter of which stormed onto the market and rapidly became the nation’s best-selling car. Contemporary styling, endless practicality and unflappable reliability all appealed to buyers, cementing the Korean’s reputation as a maker of quality cars at a very reasonable price.

Can they pull it off the third time? We’ll soon find out because there’s a new kid in town. Named the Kona, it’s Hyundai’s first take on the ever-popular baby-SUV, and it’s hitting showrooms now.

Here’s what you need to know:

It looks good

Really good, actually. It was designed to look bold and distinctive, set apart from the Audi Q2s and Seat Atecas that young, style-conscious buyers may consider too unoriginal for their tastes. Available in a wide range of funky colours – both inside and out – the Kona also comes with a two-tone roof. All models come with 16inch, 17inch or 18inch alloy wheel depending on which level of trim buyers opt for, and twin headlights sit above LED daytime 

Hyundai says the new look reflects the brand’s forward-thinking approach, and is part of a wider plan for it to become the leading Asian brand in Europe by 2021.

It comes with loads of stuff as standard

Hyundai has made a point of cramming all of its latest models with impressive amounts of kit for their price brackets, and nowhere is that clearer than in the Kona. If you opt for the range-topping Premium spec GT spec, you’ll get full LED headlights, Autonomous Emergency Braking (which can recognise pedestrians), heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, a head-up display, and an 8-inch touchscreen satnav system. Which is, as previously stated, really quite a lot of stuff.

It’s a proper drivers’ car

Opt for the range-topping Premium spec and you’ll get a 1.6litre, 175bhp turbocharged engine including all-wheel drive and dual-clutch auto transmission, which provides enough oomph to take the Kona away from the lights pretty quickly for a car of its size. Or you can choose the 1.0 litre version, which delivers 118bhp and is more than nippy enough for an everyday B-road blast. There’ll also be a diesel version to go with it, and in 2018, even an all-electric version.

Unlike its sister car the Kia Stonic, the Kona sits on an entirely new chassis developed specifically for that model, which makes it feel sharper and flatter in the corners than, for example, the similar priced Nissan Juke.

It’s practical

As is the norm with Hyundai’s current product range, the Kona manages to pack an impressive amount of space into a small car. The load area amounts 334 litres, or 361 litres on the S model, with rear seats able to split 60:40 and expand the load space to very accommodating 1,143 litres. The SE models and above also feature electric driver lumbar support to make long journeys more comfortable – a rare find on cars in this price bracket.

It’s well priced

This is perhaps where the Kona excels the most. Bear in mind that this is an SUV – albeit one of the smallest – packed with new technology and boasting some of the best practicality in its class. Then consider the entry-level price: just €20,995. That gets you the “Comfort” trim, with the aforementioned 1.0L engine and a six-speed manual transmission, while buyers with deeper pockets will pay €29,995 for the top-spec Premium version with all the bells and whistles. All cars come with Hyundai’s usual range of affordable finance packages.

The bottom line

We can be fairly confident that the Kona is going to trounce rivals like the Citroen C3 Aircross in the Irish market. The Kona takes its cues from the wildly successful Tucson and Santa Fe, retaining the looks, the tech and, importantly, the price tag that has driven such strong sales for those models in recent years.  

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