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First Drive: Hyundai Kona 1.6 CRDi diesel

Can diesel prove to be the pick of the bunch for Hyundai’s fun Kona? By Jonathan Musk

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SECTOR Small SUV   PRICING £19,750-£24,750   FUEL 67.3-64.2mpg   CO2 111-114g/km

With more than 1.6m SUV sales since 2001, Hyundai knows the importance of offering customers an appealing range of cars. And, with the recent launch of the Santa Fe, refreshed Tucson and Kona, the company now has a coherent line-up to offer customers.

The only thing really missing from the mix, was a few more powertrain options, particularly for the Kona that has only been available with petrol 1.0 or 1.6-litre units.

The Korean company has now addressed this with the addition of a new 1.6 CRDi diesel available in two power options: a 113bhp variant with six-speed manual or a 134bhp matched to a seven-speed DCT. And, unlike our European neighbours, the UK will only get two-wheel drive variants.

The engineers have given the 1.6-litre unit the full Euro 6D-TEMP treatment – with a combination of diesel particulate filter (DPF), AdBlue exhaust treatment and lean NOx (LNT) – meaning emissions are as low as 111g/km CO2.

The diesel is immediately more comfortable to drive than the petrol 1.0-litre. Its low-down torque (206.5lb.ft for the 113bhp engine) is more forgiving and its flexibility shines when confronted with corners or hills. It’s not the punchiest unit in 113bhp guise but there’s plenty of usable performance, for example when accelerating to join a motorway. Hyundai isn’t certain yet whether customers will prefer the 134bhp unit with DCT, though the £1,300 premium it demands suffers only a 3g/km CO2 penalty and it offers similar fuel economy. But my pick would be the six-speed manual that manages the rare accolades of being both fun and relaxing to drive, while returning decent miles per gallon.

With pricing starting from £19,750, the Kona diesel range represents an alluring fleet choice. Even the range-topping Premium SE trim with a £23,450 price tag (for the manual) seems reasonable, especially considering its got-it-all on-board equipment, leather and seat heating plus ventilation. BiK is 27% across the Kona diesel range and the car received a full five-star Euro NCAP rating and of course they all come bundled with Hyundai’s five-year warranty too.

What we think

So is diesel the right fit for the youthful Kona? While there’s no getting around the benefits of diesel power – economy and versatility – in Kona it doesn’t offer much of a margin over the petrol 1.0-litre in particular, especially when factoring in its price premium and higher BiK. However, there’s certainly a place for it within the range, particularly for high-mileage drivers. One thing to keep in mind though, is Hyundai reckon there’ll be a few months’ wait before production starts rolling due to high demand for the diesel units in other models.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.