It's easier to figure out the deepest and darkest mysteries of the universe (the answer, by the way, is 42) than it is to work out what mysterious ingredients are needed to successfully launch a car into the booming small SUV segment.

One of Australia's most crowded vehicle categories is also its most diverse. There are big ones, small ones, practical ones, ones that aren't really SUVs at all, ones that are really quite good and some that could only be less appealing if they arrived with factory-fitted mullets. And yet they all somehow compete under the catch-all banner of "small SUV", and most achieve some level of sales success.

Into this frantic fray launches the all-new Hyundai Kona, the Korean brand's first-ever entrant in this segment. And if you're wondering what they've been doing while all these other manufacturers have been making tiny SUV hay, you're not alone. And on that, we hand over to the brand's local boss, JW Lee.

"We're a bit late to the small SUV market, we must admit, but not too late," he says. "On the flip-side, we've been able to observe the market closely, and study our competitors, and bring something great to the SUV segment."

We suspect that the whole "studied our competitors" thing is meant quite literally, which is why the Kona looks a bit like a Subaru XV, is roughly the size of the Mazda CX-3 and apes the practicality positives of the Honda HR-V.

But is Hyundai's smallest SUV the best of the bunch?