The base Kona Active is not cheap at $27,000 drive-away. The top-selling Mazda CX-3 starts from $22,385 drive-away for a manual and $24,300 drive-away for an auto. And that price does not include automatic emergency braking (AEB), which is standard on the Mazda. At least the Hyundai is covered by a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and has lower capped price service costs and longer, 12 month/15,000km intervals. The Hyundai’s three-year service cost is just $777, one of the best in the business. By comparison the Mazda CX-3 costs almost double in normal distance driving, at $1402.
The Kona dashboard and door trims look like they’re made out of outdoor furniture plastic, but at least they are functional and well designed. The Kona is, in effect, an SUV body on the underpinnings of the Hyundai i30 hatch. It has plenty of space in the cabin for heads, shoulders, knees and toes. But the boot space is smaller (361 litres) than the i30 (395 litres) and yet the Kona only has a space-saver spare tyre. The i30 fits a full-size spare tyre because it’s a tad longer bumper to bumper than the Kona (4340mm versus 4165mm).
Standard fare includes six airbags, a rear view camera with guiding lines that turn with the steering, rear parking sensors and Apple Car Play/Android Auto, to reduce the temptation to touch your phone while on the move. The Kona Active with safety pack is almost $3000 dearer, according to the Hyundai website, at $29,700 drive-away. The safety pack adds AEB, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert and lane keeping assistance. If the base model Kona were crash tested to the latest safety standards it would protect you well in crash but not get a five-star rating because of the lack of AEB and other safety tech. The rest of the range gets top marks.
It might look like a four-wheel-drive but the Kona is front-drive, just like small hatchbacks such as the Toyota Corolla. The taller ride height and seating position give a good view of the traffic ahead. The 2.0-litre engine is zippy, relatively economical and will run on regular unleaded, but it’s a bit buzzy when pushed hard. The six-speed auto is a gem.
The Mazda CX-3 is the top seller but it’s smaller and buzzier than the Kona. The Mazda may be cheaper to buy but it’s dearer to run.
The Mitsubishi ASX is showing its age but it’s $25,990 drive-away price and five-year warranty make it worth taking for a test drive.
If the budget stretches further, the Subaru XV is a more complete package but it’s dearer to run and more expensive to service.
The Kona Active is a worthy proposition but if you’re not in a hurry it will be worth waiting for discounts to emerge or for the safety pack to become standard.
AT A GLANCE
PRICE $27,000 drive-away
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags
TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto
THIRST 7.2L/100km (claimed)
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