Manchester, third escape from

Hyundai Kona: on my street. Red. First time up close. Details?

Don’t call it Kona in Portugal.

Here’s a photo study of the car. As a slide show. The captions say a bit, the shapes a bit more. Why not have a close look at the pictures:

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The interior is black with black cloth. These cars are exactly analogous to the over-styled personal coupés of the 1970s. Hyundai clearly believes this is what customers want, an excess of styling and not so much functionality. Some of the Kona models have 4×4. Like Citroën’s C5 and its unbought hydropneumatic suspension, I doubt many Konas will have 4×4 at all.”The 1.0 litre will account for the bulk of UK sales and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels,” scribbles Autocropley.

For engines, your choice is 1.0, 1.6 and 2.0. I am reminded of the 1.3 litre 4 cylinder Capris that Ford sold in the 1970s. Unlike the American personal coupés, at least the Capri was reasonably quietly styled. The Kona is supposed to compete against the Nissan Juke and Toyota C.HR so it’s ornate. It’s not ornate enough.

Nissan Juke: properly wild and too big too fit in a single photo.

WhatCar??? writes ruefully  “It’s fair to say What Car? is looking more like What Small SUV? of late. The British public can’t get enough of them and car manufacturers are only too happy to jack up the traditional hatchback in search of sales” before awarding the Kona three out of five stars. “It’s probably the most outrageously styled Hyundai the world has ever seen,” writes TopGear, before going on to give it three out of five stars.

Car and Driver give the Kona four out of five stars but we will never find out why. Autocropley hand out four out of five stars. “Ignore the propaganda about a ‘true SUV’ – there is nothing sporty about the Kona’s coarse 1.6-litre engine and little utility in the small boot and compact rear seats”, says Car Magazine before awarding three out of five stars. 1476 kg and a 1.0 litre engine. Yes, it is pretty much a Capri for our times. People haven’t changed so much, I suppose.

**Note the small chamfer next to the black cladding. Do you know what that is called? Too much overkill.


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

25 thoughts on “Manchester, third escape from”

  1. These cars make me sad. What’s happening at the moment? I cannot understand why the Juke, C.HR et al are sellling so well. I cannot see any redeeming features. They don’t have any more room than a traditional small car. They’re heavier, so less efficient, they can’t possibly drive as well and they look awful. There is not a single line that pleases me on any of them. I feel like I must be missing something. What are most people seeing that I’m not??

    1. I agree these vehicles do almost nothing a Polo or Focus can’t. At least the Juke and C-HR have the courage of their convictions. The Hyundai is timid, like a fellow pretending to be zany.

  2. I absolutely hate the overloaded fussiness of this design.

    It’s intriguing that Kia, supposedly the hipper, more sporty and youthful sister brand, has produced a much more conventional and less polarising alternative in the Niro:

    1. I think that the KIA equivalent of the Kona is the Stonic, not the Niro. I like the Stonic, it’s one of the milder proposition in the category.

  3. The Kia still looks to be like they took the parameters from competitors’ designs, fed them into a computer then made what it came up with. We’ll take the two-tier front end from a Citroën, the plastic wheel arch lip from a Range Rover…

    1. Sorry, I meant the Hyundai. Shows how much the design grabs me.

  4. Yet another abominable blob hits the streets. But what you have to realise is that we who actually like cars and care about how they function and what they look like are in the minority. And a minority which is in decline. For most people, cars are white-goods; things which are essential to modern life but about which they do not care. All that matters is that they have the latest model. They actively dislike driving, seeing it as a distraction from whatever device they currently use to ensure that they do not miss out on any of the mindless drivel to which they are addicted. For them, the day that their fully-automated transport pod can be summoned by an app cannot come fast enough. In the meantime we can, I fear, expect ever more of whatever the likes of Hyundai, Nissan, BMW et al decide we want.

  5. The Kia Niro is a smart little thing, and petrol hybrid is exactly the right powertrain for Europe (where off street parking is rare in cities). Shame that the execution is apparently a bit off. No one seems able to get within a mile of the efficiency of Toyota’s hybrids.

    Some context for the Car and Driver review: in USA, these are often bought by affluent families as little darling’s first car. Sending the kid out to college in a Kia Soul must seem like such a sensible idea – it’s reliable and safe, but not a sports car to attract unwanted attention or encourage risky driving.

  6. Kia’s rival to the Kona is actually the Stonic, not the Niro. I agree with jacomo is rather smart, if a little straight-laced. The Stonic tries harder to be ‘funky’, but not as histrionically as its Hyundai cousin, which is truly awful. In fact, the Kona is more like a throw-back to those cheap and immature looking Hyundais and Protons of the 80’s and 90’s. Give me a Venga over a Stonic any day.

  7. Sorry, I agree with jacomo that the Niro is rather smart, in case of doubt (I must read my posts before committing them …)

  8. In my retirement, living in Portugal, I’ll have a Hyundai Kona and an Opel Ascona. And maybe a Toyota MR2 to go to France.

    Well, nope, I’ll have a Flaminia PF coupé, a 4-door Aurelia and a 60s Jag saloon.

  9. The Kona looks more stoned than the Stonic…
    The rear light arrangement is particularly disturbing. First the ‘normal’ units on top, then the multicoloured arrays an the bottom in their black plastic frame with the reversing lights inside another frame. It’s definitely too much.

  10. Regarding Hyundai and Kia more generally, I’m surprised that they don’t do more to differentiate the two brands and strengthen their respective identities. I had thought that Hyundai was meant to be more conservative and mature, and Kia youthful and sporty. If I needed that sort of vehicle, I could easily contemplate buying the Kia Nero, but absolutely not the Hyundai Kona. It is the automotive equivalent of, for example, these:

    Fine on a teenager, but just embarrassing on a middle-aged man. And I’m not exactly shy, driving a either red Boxster or an orange MINI.

    1. I think Hyundai is still meant to be conservative and KIA more youth-oriented but in this particular segment (compact CUVs) they might have thought it best to attribute youthful appeal to both the Stonic and the Kona because the market demands it (different colour combos, quirky details, wheel-arches extensions, skid plates, etc…)

      Perhaps Hyundai should have let the Stonic be the bold one and shown more restraint with the Kona’s design in order to face-off VW: I’d expect it’s upcoming T-Cross to should be quite subdued itself and will probably grab a big slice of the European market with its typical VW conservative style.

  11. Wander into a Hyundai or Kia dealer here and you’re greeted by a sea of dark metallic grey or brown lumps, all purporting to be different, but all about the same sad little econoboxes. Variations on a theme. Sure they have different grilles, some are an inch or two higher off the floor, but overall there’s more similarity than not.

    And are they really worth the time and bother separating from one another in your minds’ eye? Black interiors in all of them. No surprise and delight, unlike that Mazda6 turbo I drove last month, barely more expensive than a full on Elantra GT and easily three times as good, $35 to $31K. Has all the same electronic bells and whistles in just the mid model. Hyundai has the Sonata to compete on paper, but it doesn’t really, if you’re honest with yourself.

    Take Hyundai’s main line-up: Accent, Elantra, Elantra Sport, Elantra GT now with IRS whoopee, Ioniq in 3 flavours from IC, plug-in hybrid and electric, Kona, and I probably forgot something and care not one whit. It’s mass confusion. Oh yes, forgot the dung beetle Veloster.

    If I recall correctly, one of those vehicles is supposed to have a totally flinty ride, Ioniq I think, so avoid that little underachiever. But, it might be this Kona, with its cartoon elephant eyes stuck at its front facial extremities, shades of the Jeep Cherokee’s front end abandoned in the recent restyle, but with extra, black tough-guy cladding set to turn grey in three months of sun fade. Who can remember which Hyundai is really extra clunky ? Which engine hasn’t been recalled for metal shavings or which model had or still has dicky airbags or failed clockspring electrical contacts for steering wheel buttons or door locks on the fritz.

    More to the point, why would anyone purporting to be interested in cars want to remember? Ennui sets in.

    None of them is set to give you a memorable ride. Hyundai, well down in global sales, seems to think throwing wet rags at the wall until something sticks is the basis of its possible redemption. In fact, here you don’t really buy or lease an H/K product, you enter into a contract for a certain monthly payment whose APR depends on your credit rating. Then, the sales “representative” reaches into the magic burlap bag and presents you with a vehicle whose monthly payment magically matches your stated ability to pay. Nobody cares how it drives, whether you got a good deal on the interest rate. The idea is simply to maximize the extraction of money from lower-end buyers. Nissan plays the exact same game.

    At least if you go into a Toyota dealer, you get a higher class of “salesman” and vehicles actually different from each other. Same with Honda and Subaru and Mazda. No confusion on the vehicle front. The customers, not surprisingly, are higher up the economic scale to begin with.

    The main Kia dealer was supposed to get its third Stinger in today. There seems to be an engineered shortage of supply. I didn’t bother going to see. Probably couldn’t be bothered to deal with the shysters anyway. A Stinger is a fish out of water in that showroom to begin with. Like finding luxury items in Walmart, you’ll wonder if you’re suffering an hallucination. Not worth the bother or the likely low level of warranty service and parts availability you’d receive for such a niche model.

    A giant gronk all around.

    1. Thank you for that zinging broadside. It’s unsettling when the audience are better than the show. Here in Denmark conditions are better for Kia – it has carved a good nook in the market and enjoys a good press reputation. The car here stinks though. It’s received a total thumbs down from DTW and our dear readers. Something of a landmark!

  12. I’m not sure that “a good press reputation” is a ringing endorsement for a car. The automotive press relies heavily on advertising from car companies and now seems to enjoy a cosy relationship with them. The daily press also has a reliance on advertising but rarely employs journalists with a depth of interest or knowledge of cars. Well said Bill.

  13. Thought it might be and can guess at exactly what. Mind you on seeing one parked in my street the air could turn very blue very swiftly. There’s a Stonic just appeared near us which leaves me, well, bereft.

    1. It´s interesting that the rude word in question has very similar consonants wherever it appears in European languages. Koni dampers though: that word is not a million miles away from Kona. Do Koni sell stuff in Portugal? Yes they do: they are “amortecedores”.

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