Skoda Kamiq 2021 review
The Kamiq is Skoda's smallest and newest SUV and we can tell you everything about it - just don't expect us to tell you what the name means...
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I’m just going to put this out there… I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Kona when it first launched in Australia back in 2017. See, Hyundai's then-new small SUV arrived around the same time as a new i30 small car, and the latter just felt somehow more special than the former - despite them being about the same price across the range.
And this newly updated one - which welcomes new engines, tech, and styling - will no doubt have the the same, if not even greater, impact on Hyundai's 2021 sales results.
But the question I really want answered is does this updated model improve the Kona formula enough to keep it relevant in its crowded segment?
Let’s find out, shall we?
|Hyundai Kona 2021: Active (awd)|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
There’s a four-model Kona line-up, not including the new N Line cars, and that story kicks off with a model simply titled the Kona.
That model replaces the former entry-level Kona Go, a move which has seen the sticker price climb by about $3000 should you want to get into the cheapest Kona, with the range now starting at $26,600.
The Kona rides on 16-inch alloys, and while the DRLs are LEDs the headlights themselves are halogens. Inside, you get cloth seats, and the smallest 8.0-inch infotainment screen - though it does get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless smartphone charging.
The range then steps up to the Active ($28,200), which gives you a nicer-feeling interior, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, privacy glass and heated and folded mirrors.
Next up is the Elite ($31,600), which builds in some more safety stuff - we’ll get to that in a moment - as well as a major upgrade to the the centre screen, which is now a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation. You also get a better Harman Kardon stereo, climate control, a smart key with remote start and an acoustic windscreen meant to reduce road noise.
At the top of the regular Kona tree is the Highlander ($38,000), which gives you a second 10.25-inch screen in the driver’s binnacle for a total of two - a positively German feeling cabin setup that we love. You also get 18-inch alloy wheels, front parking sensors, LED headlights and taillights, a head-up display, a big glass sunroof and heated and cooled seats up front, with heating in the window seats in the rear.
If your tastes run a little Sportier, then the new N Line cars might be right up your street.
First, you’ve got the named Kona N Line ($36,300), which changes the engine and gearbox - again, we’ll come to that in a moment - and also adds sportier suspension, heaps of exterior styling changes, 18-inch alloy whees and a red-trimmed interior treatment designed to feel a little sportier.
Last but not least, you have the N Line Premium, which is a not-inconsiderable $42,400. You get the twin-screen interior setup, heated and cooled seats up front and seats that are heated in the window seats in the back, a head up display, and your headlights and taillights are now LED, and there’s a sunroof, too. In fact, it largely followed the specification of the Highlander, just with a better engine and gearbox, and a sportier driving experience.
The biggest changes here are for the Kona N Line cars, which get a new-look front bonnet, with these three narrow vents across the front, and a new-look mesh grille. The vents, by the way, are just for show, but they do lend the sportier Kona family a unique and easily identifiable look.
To hear Hyundai tell it, you’ll hear a lot of words like “wide stance” and “aggression”, but to be honest, there’s only so far you can push a car in this category before it looks ridiculous, and while it’s nowhere near as Fast and Furious as Hyundai seems to think, that’s really not a bad thing. In fact, I reckon they’ve got the semi-sporty look pretty much bang on.
You also get 18-inch alloys with Continental rubber, black wing mirrors, and at the back, a sizeable rear diffuser and twin exhaust tips.
For the rest of the Kona range, the changes aren’t quite so extreme. There are alloys across the range now, whether they’re 16, 17 or 18 inches, as well as new halogen headlight and LED DRL designs, all designed to make the Kona look lower, wider and sportier.
Like with almost any car, what you get in the cabin of the Hyundai Kona depends very much on how much you paid for your Hyundai Kona.
The top-shelf Kona N Line Premium or Highlander get the very best of the equipment, from the leather seats that are heated and cooled up front, to the big glass sunroof, the ambient interior lighting choices and the digital air-con controls.
Perhaps coolest, though, is the positively German-feeling media set-up, with Hyundai making use of a twin-screen system, with a 10.25-inch screen in the driver’s binnacle taking car of the driving stuff, and a second screen in the centre taking care of the navigation and entertainment. But you will have to plug your phone in to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, because for reasons too weird to get into, only the base cars gets wireless connectivity.
The cheap seats, then, do without some of the cool stuff. Both the Kona and the Active make do with manual air-con and the smaller 8.0-inch cent screen, where the Elite steps up the tech and audio.
Ok, lets talk space. This Kona is marginally longer than the one it replaces, but it doesn’t really translate into any extra space for passengers. Still, it’s neither the biggest nor smallest in terms of interior space, sitting somewhere in the middle.
I'm 175cm, and sitting behind my own driving position, I had enough leg room, though headroom is a little tight, and I wouldn't want to spend too much time in the backseat with two other people.
Elsewhere, you get two ISOFIX points, one in each window seat in the back, and the boot will serve up some 374 litres with the seats in place, or 1156L with them folded flat, which is slightly more than the car it replaces.
The cupholder count, by the way, sits at four - two up front, and two more in a pull-down seat divider in the back - and while there are pockets in each door, they're not massively wide, so small bottles only.
You’ve got two choices here. Most cars get a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with a CVT automatic, albeit one that does its very best impression of a torque converter thanks to its eight fake gears and a manual mode. That set-up will produce 110kW and 180Nm.
N Line cars, however, get a punchier 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which marries to a seven-speed DCT automatic, and also gets AWD. It produces 146kW and 265Nm, and it’s only available with the N Line cars - even the most expensive regular Kona, the Highlander, gets the 2.0-litre and CVT combo.
Cars equipped with the 2.0-litre engine will sip a claimed 6.2L/100km on the combined cycle, and emit 148g/km of C02. In terms of fuel, that’s a saving of about 14 per cent on the last car.
If you Kona has a turbocharged engine, that number will climb - but not startlingly so - to about 6.9L/100km and 156g/km of C02.
Both tanks are 50 litres, and both will sip 91 RON fuel.
Hyundai has made a very big deal about its CVT transmission NOT feeling like a CVT transmission, with the brand clearly keen to shake some of the stigma associated with the famously droning antics of fuel-saving transmissions.
So much, in fact, that Hyundai has built in eight artificial steps - as well as a sequential manual mode - which are designed make its CVT feel like a torque converter automatic (in other words, like its changing gears when it really isn’t).
And why would they care so much, you ask? Because in this new Kona line-up (not including the N Cars, of course) you can your choice of a CVT transmission, or a CVT transmission, so it’s important that people like it.
Happily, then, most of the time it does its job really well. Driving through the city, or anywhere where it’s not under a great deal of strain, it’s and easy and smooth gearbox that gently - albeit with some fakery - shifts through those steps convincingly enough that you can forget you’re driving a CVT.
In fact, the only time you really notice it’s a CVT is when you really plant you’re foot, and then the drone is inescapable, but it’s not really the kind of car that you’ll be lead-footing around every time you jump behind the wheel.
The 2.0-litre engine isn’t overly powerful, and it never feels aggressive, but it does feel nicely matched to the car itself, with only flat-footed acceleration a little underwhelming, but keep things humming along and the little Kona will happily do what’s asked of it without ever feeling like it’s massively under strain.
The thing that impresses the most, though, is the ride and handling balance on offer here. Yes, it is a city-focused small SUV, but Hyundai has done a number on the ride and handling here - this Kona carries over the local tuning from the previous cars, which is no bad thing - and there is a sense of connection on offer here that feels rewarding from behind the wheel.
The trade-off is that the ride can feel a little harsh over road imperfections, especially larger bumps, but for me, that’s a compromise I’m happy to make.
Which leads us neatly to the N Line cars - which themselves carry over the ride and handling tune from the outgoing Kona, this time borrowed from the last turbocharged car - which are designed to be a sportier alternative while we wait for the full-blown N cars.
For one, you get the 1.6-litre turbo, the seven-speed DCT, and all-wheel drive. You also get multi-link rear suspension, sports brakes with 25mm bigger discs, and a sport turn that’s been waved over the gearbox, too.
And, some initial turbo-lag aside, it’s the more complete-feeling Kona experience, and the fact you can take this little SUV out of the city, and stumble across a twisting road and have it put a smile on your face, is a pretty good thing.
The engine feels sportier, without being out-and-out aggressive, and it’s a perkier, more exciting experience from behind the wheel.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
It’s a pretty good safety story, this one, with every Kona getting six airbags, Forward Collision Avoidance and AEB that recognises cars, pedestrians and cyclists. You also get Lane Keep Assist, Lane Following Assist, smart cruise control, a rear occupant alert and a reversing camera.
The Active cars add rear parking sensors, while Elite and N Line cars gain Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, as well as a safe exit warning, while Highlander and N Line Premium vehicles get front parking sensors, High Beam Assist and a head-up display.
While all Hyundais’ are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty - which is now neither the best nor the worst warranty coverage available - there are some changes to servicing you need to know about.
While 2.0-litre cars require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms, cars with a turbocharged engine need servicing every 12 months or 10,000kms.
Both are covered by Hyundai’s capped-price servicing program, though the brand is yet to spill on just what each service will cost. As soon as we know, we'll update this story accordingly.
The Hyundai feels like it's grown up - and grown a little sportier - in this latest iteration, but it remains very much a case of you get what you pay for.
Spring for the cheapest Kona, and Hyundai's small SUV feels a little raw and basic in the cabin, but step up through the range and the experience improves dramatically.
For mine, though, the sweet spot here is the Elite, which gives the best of the tech and safety stuff, but without breaking the bank. The Highlander, for example, is rather expensive for a small SUV.
|(FWD)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$20,900 – 28,380||2021 Hyundai Kona 2021 (FWD) Pricing and Specs|
|Active (awd)||1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO||$22,600 – 30,690||2021 Hyundai Kona 2021 Active (awd) Pricing and Specs|
|Active (fwd)||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$20,600 – 27,940||2021 Hyundai Kona 2021 Active (fwd) Pricing and Specs|
|Elite (awd)||1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO||$26,700 – 35,420||2021 Hyundai Kona 2021 Elite (awd) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|