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The Hyundai Tucson has a little brother- the Kona, one with a character all of its own and a welcome addition to the SUV line-up. Adding to the appeal a palette of colours, of the dazzling bright variety, just the sort of thing to brighten up your day.

Despite its modest dimensions it has a reasonable helping of on road presence thanks to the frontal styling which is expressive and powerful, characterised by the hallmark cascading grille, the company’s family identity. The LED daytime running lights positioned above the composite LED headlights give the car a sleek and confident appearance and the distinctive front and rear design is emphasised by the car’s wide stance and voluminous body styling, while 18-inch alloy wheels and the shark fin antenna further contribute to the confident appearance of the car. The two-tone roof and choice of eight distinctive exterior colours offer dozens of individual colour combinations to suit a multitude of tastes. Amazing how many manufacturers have taken a leaf out of the book of the second generation Mini to go for coloured tops, also currently very popular with Citroen.

There is a choice of power units including two turbocharged, small-displacement petrol engines with high low-end torque. My test example had the one litre T-GDI three-cylinder turbocharged 120 PS petrol engine with a six speed manual transmission. Performance is reasonable for a vehicle in this class, perhaps not just as festy as the one litre from VAG, nevertheless; rest to 100kph (62mph) comes up in 12 seconds and on to a top speed of 180kph (112mph).

My week behind the wheel took me over a variety of driving routes including two famous routes in County Wicklow, favourites on many occasions in rallying, the Sally Gap and the Wicklow Gap. Earlier this year, I took part in a national press launch in the area with another manufacturer and I was so impressed with the Wicklow routes I was determined to return at the earliest opportunity and that came with the Kona. In particular the Sally Gap is a superb route for man and machine and a small vehicle is the favoured choice. As I followed this route, my thoughts turned to some of the all time greats of rallying who had gone before and to memories on video.

On the road, the small Hyundai offers reasonable comfort levels, the suspension just a little firm for my liking but no complaints with the transmission, smooth and effective. We all enjoy comfort with our motoring and that is aided by the level of standard equipment and this is where the Kona surprised and pleased. A high standard for a vehicle in this class and space does not permit me to list all; however a few of the much appreciated highlights, heated and ventilated front seats, automatic headlights with dusk sensor, heated steering wheel, easy parking with a rear camera and guidance system, keyless entry with start/stop button, Bluetooth connectivity, a good sat nav system and so the list goes on and on.

More and more car manufacturers are majoring on safety in recent times, and rightly so and again this Hyundai scores well with a comprehensive package to keep driver and fellow passengers as safe as possible. A full compliment of airbags, anti-lock brakes, downhill brake control, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert, the latter extremely useful.

In the shadow of the Sugar Loaf Mountain I came out of my hotel all set for the Sally and Wicklow Gaps; but the Kona refused to partake. Any vehicle can suffer a glitch from basic runabouts to supercars and my test Kona suffered a small electronics one according to the AA engineer who quickly got me back on the road. The former boxer had the problem sorted as he related stories of his days in the ring. Yes the Kona is the full package, it comes with a five year unlimited mileage warranty, five year annual vehicle checks, roadside assistance and a twelve year anti-perforation warranty. Driving in urban areas or out in the country this Hyundai will satisfy the needs of many.

Ian Lynas