Surfing the new wave

by Andy Bryenton

Hyundai’s latest offering in the compact SUV market enters a very competitive sector, but it comes with a hearty pedigree. The smaller sibling of the much appreciated Santa Fe continues the theme developed with the naming of that consummate family 4×4, taking its monicker from another top surf spot. In this case, it’s the tropical Hawaiian paradise of Kona. 

The name’s evocative, but then again, so is the styling. You can just picture this spirited looking little sports utility with a pair of classic longboards lashed to the roof rack, parked up next to that pair of evergreen VW’s — the microbus and the beach buggy. Those razor-edge headlights, chrome-stripped running boards, flared black wheel arches and aggressive alloys all scream modernity, but with a cheeky appearance that has been a hit with other small SUVs.

As mentioned earlier, it’s a growing sector of the market. The Kona jumps in with the ultra-diminutive Suzuki Ignis for example, but while the car behind the chrome S is retro tiny and cool — like a certain Fiat — the Kona is all new. Take a look inside and you’ll find a symphony of integrated entertainment and informational tech, including wireless smartphone charging. Behind the scenes, a battery of safety features look out for the driver as well, making it easy to follow the Kona’s slogan and set off on intrepid adventures.

The one to go for is the top of the line, 1.6 litre gasoline direct injection all-wheel-drive — a machine which delivers plenty of smiles as well as plenty of smooth power thanks to a dual clutch seven-speed gearbox. As is now common in the small SUV segment, there are two wheel drive models available for the town driver who never seeks to get dirt on the rims, but who will appreciate the space and driving position of this tropically named, topically stylish and nicely appointed new addition to the Hyundai family. 

In an era where the baby sports utility is the new super mini, this is one offering that stands out.

Take a test drive and see if you might like to switch to Hawaiian time. Longboards optional.