The Hyundai Kona has been somewhat of a success for Hyundai since it was launched in 2017. Its compact size, unique styling, and affordable pricing saw it as the second-best-selling small SUV under $40,000 in February.
The 2020 Hyundai Kona Go 2WD has seen the addition of parts of the Hyundai SmartSense safety pack, which makes autonomous emergency braking (at speeds of up to 75km/h), forward-collision alert, and driver-attention warning, as standard, leaving out blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. All that comes with a price rise of $500, making the entry-level Kona come to $24,000 before on-road costs.
The Kona we have has the optional Tangerine Comet paint for $595, which has a pearl metallic fleck through the paint, and we believe it really suits the design of the car. You’ll never lose it at the shopping centre car park ever again.
One of the appeals of the Kona is its height, and for anyone who struggles with a low or high car to get in and out of the seat, this is the perfect height. It has a comfortable driving position with great support for the lower back, even if it doesn’t have lumbar support. The seats are adjusted manually.
The quality of the cabin is evident through the cheap-feeling plastic steering wheel, the scratchy plastic on the door trims, dash, and lack of soft touches on the armrest. Three out of four buttons are blank near the gear selector; a constant reminder that you are driving an entry-level-grade Kona. There aren't a lot of storage options, with enough room in the door pockets for only a small drink bottle, two cupholders, and a square-shaped central armrest that doesn’t include connections.
There is a large open tray for your phone with two USBs, an auxiliary and a 12-volt connection. The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen sits high on the dash so your eyes don’t have to divert off the road too much. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, which is a good thing, as inbuilt satellite navigation is not included.
The entire Kona range scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017 and for good reason – even in base-spec form and without the $500 safety pack, it nabs things like city-speed autonomous emergency braking, driver attention monitoring (to detect drowsiness or prolonged distraction), lane keeping assist, impact-sensing auto door unlock, anti-lock braking system (ABS), hill-start assist control, electronic stability control and a traction control system as standard.
In fact, it's really only missing auto wipers, speed limiter, keyless entry and start, high beam assist power folding mirrors and active cruise control – all of those bar the speed limiter kick in from the Elite spec. Speaking of a speed limiter, the lack of one will see you relying heavily on the car's standard, non-adaptive cruise control while on speed camera-laden freeways, which could prove painful.
Why? Because the cruise control speed is increased incrementally set via steering wheel controls, but there's a noticeable lag between the input on the steering wheel translating to the speed displayed on the car's instruments panel. As a result, I found myself hitting the '+' button more than was actually required, prompting the car to kick up its speed substantially before I realised and hit 'cancel'. It's a mistake you might only make once, but that one time could see you land a speeding ticket.
Cabin space is more than adequate for most everyday passenger-ferrying and supermarket shopping requirements. In the back, there really is only enough width for two adults. The head room is okay, the knee room is average, but the toe room is fantastic for an adult to be seated in the firm but comfortable 60:40 seats. There are no air vents, connections or a fold-down armrest with cupholders, so passengers will have to rely on the small door pockets. If you are inclined to put a baby seat in the back, three top tethers and two rear outboard ISOFIX points are available.
The boot can fit 361L of stuff, which is enough room for a large suitcase that can be hidden under a parcel shelf. There is a side-mounted storage pocket, with five smaller compartments under the floor tray where a space-saver is located.
Powering the Kona is a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine producing 110kW and 180Nm that is started by the old-fashioned turn-key, and is nicely matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Kona is a great little runabout and does the daily commute well, helped with a digital speedometer, a tight 10.6m turning circle, and direct steering. It feels energetic, eager and easy to manoeuvre – perfect for zipping in and out of traffic jams.
However, sound absorption over ruts isn’t fantastic, and the ride on the not-so-big 16-inch wheels could be better. Speaking of, the Go doesn’t come with alloy wheels, but steel wheels with covers, which are probably one of the best non-looking wheel covers on the market.
With the majority of our driving done in peak-hour traffic, we finished with a combined fuel reading of 9.6L/100km, which is a fair bit more than the claimed 7.2L/100km – something that really should count against a compact car that's positioned specifically at city dwellers on a budget who will likely spend most of their time in peak-hour traffic.
Hyundai has a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with servicing intervals every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing is available for five years at a cost of $1420, or an average of $284 per visit.
The Kona Go is the perfect city car if you’re one who wants something with pizzazz and personality on the outside, but practicality on the inside. It is also perhaps suited to someone who won’t be having rear-seat passengers often, as it can get a bit tight back there. Oh, and do yourself a favour – option the Tangerine Comet paint.