September 26, 2019 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2019 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD

Potential Class Leading Greatness

The Hyundai Kona in theory should be selling way better than it currently does in our market. The Kona is an award- winning model from Hyundai for both design and packaging. We got the basic design for our domestic market but not the packaging unfortunately. Riding on an all-new platform, the Hyundai Kona could easily be a popular product for our market if only we get the correct balance of standard equipment. The Kona is about a foot shorter than the Tucson, yet it feels closer in volumetric proportions. I think it looks great on the outside, it is fun and looks like nothing else on the road. The local model is packaged with the lone peppy 147 bhp front-wheel driven 2.0-liter engine coupled to a smooth 6-speed automatic which does perform reasonably well to support the charismatic appearance but the packaging is way too deficient.

We recently tested this almost top-spec sonic silver Kona Ultimate unit which does feature most of the best equipment offered for the model combined with the most powerful current engine available in the North American market, a detuned version of the 1.6-liter direct injection turbo found in the Veloster (from 201 bhp @ 6000 rpm to 175 bhp @ 5500 rpm but retains the same peak 195 lb-ft of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm) mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and managed by healthy 12.0-inch front vented and 11.2-inch rear discs to discover if my frustration may be unfounded.

Hyundai is famously world-renowned for high-value products which contributes greatly to their success. The cabin of our US test unit still had most of the sea of grey found in our market instead of the more desirable optional contrasting color-matched trim treatments found in other models. But it did have the 315-watt 8-speaker Infinity® infotainment system with Clari-Fi™ Music Restoration Technology, HUD, leather seats, LED headlights, inductive charging pad, softer-touch materials on the dashboard and the upper halves of the front door panels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic high-beams, proximity-key entry with push-button ignition, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention monitor and good-looking 18”x 7.5J alloys wrapped with Goodyear Eagle Touring 235/45R18 98V XL all-season tires.

If you want an independent multi-link rear suspension instead of the standard torsion-beam then you would need to buy the AWD version which also adds almost 215 pounds of weight to gain a touch more all-weather confidence but negates the benefits of the extra slight increase of ride comfort as well as less fuel efficiency. You literally get less for more. The AWD Kona is less quick across the powerband to the tune of almost half a second and almost 6 whole seconds slower at speeds over 190 km/h while losing fuel economy and brake distances.

The Kona is a very stylish, versatile, and comfortable everyday compact crossover that would be even better when it is hopefully packaged better in the near future which includes the EV solution which gives it an emission-free range of close to 415 kilometers on a single full charge. The currently offered domestic Kona achieves 0-100 km/h in 9.2 seconds and will actually touch 200 km/h (125 mph) before it runs out of ideas, and it will do it all in a balanced and composed way with the potential fuel range of 700 kilometers on a full tank of premium gasoline. But it drives so much better with the energetic 1.6-liter turbo combined with the better standard equipment. With so much more power channeled to the livelier DCT transmission, the satisfying Kona Ultimate drives like a taller and more forgiving Veloster.



Engine Inline-4, 1591 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, Atkinson-cycle, D-CVVT, 7-speed DCT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 175 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 195 lb-ft @ 1500-4500 rpm


Top Speed 216 km/h (135 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 6.3 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 28 mpg City & 32 mpg Highway


Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 28,670.00
What's Great Avantgarde exterior styling, very peppy engine, fuel efficient, strong standard kit.
What's Not So Almost-top-level trim, variant not available in our market yet.
C! Editors Rating 10/10
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