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The Hyundai Kona may be more powerful and more fun to drive but the Subaru XV is more spacious and the Toyota C-HR proves to be more refined.

20 Apr 2018


The Japanese have much reason to begin fearing Korean carmakers. Backed by European minds, the Koreans have given us some interesting cars of late, which include the Kia Stinger, the Hyundai Ioniq and the Hyundai i30 N.

And more recently, it also gave us the Kona, Hyundai's first compact sport utility vehicle, which has already achieved notable sales figures for Komoco Motors within a short couple of months.

Named after a district of Hawaii, the Kona admittedly still has an uphill task of taking on the segment's best, which of course means it has to fend off its Japanese competitors such as the equally newish Subaru XV and the Toyota C-HR.

Can Hyundai's new kid on the block (left) square off against the likes of the Subaru XV (centre) and Toyota C-HR (right)?

Space

A big consideration in this segment is of course space and, in this regard, the Kona doesn't fare too badly. It just loses out slightly to the larger-sized XV in terms of cabin roominess and boot space, but trumps the C-HR in both aspects.

For cargo-carrying duty, the Subaru leads the group with 385 litres, trailed by the Kona's 361 and C-HR's 316.

More unfortunate for the C-HR is the fact that despite actually having a longer wheelbase than the Kona, its coupe-like roofline and runty rear windows translate into a rear-seat experience that's somewhat claustrophobic.

The back seat experience in the XV is the airiest and roomiest

Thankfully, the Toyota regains lost points in the interior design department for having the most posh-looking and best-feeling cockpit. It's also the sportiest-feeling one, with the most driver-focused layout and the best infotainment system.

While the Kona's Apple CarPlay-equipped system is just as rich in features as the C-HR, it lacks the crispiness and style of Toyota's. Another downside is the slight hollow hardness of its dash and door plastics.

The XV's cabin construction is slightly better, thanks to an unbreakable feel to its controls and more visual pizazz, although still lacking the overall maturity of the C-HR's.

The C-HR's cabin design and construction is the cleanest and most well-executed one of the three

Pace and grace

On the road, the Kona quickly muscles its way up the rankings by offering the punchiest drive. With 174bhp and 265Nm of torque courtesy of its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, it's the most powerful one in this test. Its on-demand all-wheel drive also helps put the power down very confidently.

Show it a corner and it'll turn in keenly and charge through with warm-hatch verve and enthusiasm, thanks to respectable balance and its smooth power delivery.

The drawback is that its ride is the harshest, no thanks to its oddly stiff suspension setup.

Like the Kona, the XV is also equipped with all-wheel drive but the laziness of its powertrain pairing doesn't inspire the same dynamic driving.

The Kona's 174bhp and 265Nm of torque is the obvious choice here for the power-hungry

The XV is also the least characterful of the three in the driving department but thankfully, it rides softer than the Kona, thus delivering a better balance of pliancy and handling.

But if pliancy is of utmost importance to you, the C-HR is your best bet. Even though it has the least power, offering a measly 114bhp and 185Nm of torque, the smoothness and quietness of its powertrain is unparalleled. It's also the most well-insulated and the best at soaking up bumps and ruts with polished sophistication.

Despite being the cheapest car to buy in this comparison, the  XV is armed with Subaru EyeSight, which is more impressive than the safety systems of Hyundai and Kia

Seriously tough consideration, then

Admittedly, if you're looking at outright bang-for-buck, the Subaru XV is the most obvious choice, considering it offers the most space and safety features for an attractive price of $99,800.

But if you're willing to give up a little space and storage for something that offers a much zippier drive, the $123,999 Hyundai Kona is worth some serious consideration. It's just as well-equipped as its Japanese rivals and ultimately more fun to drive, too.

That the XV and Kona are both all-wheel drive should be a fact to remember before committing, though. Both clocked in an average of 10km/L even with a responsible right foot.

An electrically-adjustable driver's seat is one of the few features that make the Kona a value-for-money buy

As a front-wheel drive, the Toyota C-HR returned the best fuel economy figures of 12.9km/L. Its biggest snag is its $142,988 asking price in our test car's Luxury Dual Tone trim. Even the base C-HR costs $126,988, which is a stretch for something that feels the most cramp and has the littlest engine, despite its higher levels of overall refinement.

The best-rounded and most sensible choice, then, would be the Hyundai Kona.
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Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1591cc

Horsepower

:

130kW (174 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

265 Nm / 4500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.9sec

Top Speed

:

205km/h

Fuel consumption

:

14.9 km/L

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Price

: $93,800

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder 16-valve Horizontally-opposed DOHC

Engine Cap

:

1995cc

Horsepower

:

114kW (153 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

196 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

Lineartronic CVT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

10.4sec

Top Speed

:

194km/h

Fuel consumption

:

14.2 km/L

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Promotion
There's a promotion for Toyota C-HR

Price

: $109,988

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC Turbocharged with VVT-iW

Engine Cap

:

1197cc

Horsepower

:

85kW (114 bhp) / 5600 rpm

Torque

:

185 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) CVT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

-

Top Speed

:

185km/h

Fuel consumption

:

15.6 km/L

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