This Car Review Is About: Hyundai’s funky little SUV called the Kona. They’ve gone a little rogue here and given the world a limited edition, 400 vehicle, “Iron Man” version, complete with body styling that evokes the Iron Man look, and a couple of nifty interior changes too. It’s powered by the 1.6L turbo engine, has a seven speed dual clutch auto, and puts drive mainly to the front but will split torque to the rear on demand.
What Does It Cost?: Hyundai list it as $39,990 plus on road costs. That’s $990 more than the Highlander with the same engine spec.And What Do I get For That?: There is some visual highlights for the Iron Man Edition. Inside there is a Tony Stark signature on the rippled plastic in front of the passenger, a Stark Industries style logo for the top of the gear selector and in the driver binnacle dials. There is a Head Up Display fitted and it plays a stylised graphic on engine start. The seats have an Iron Man head and Stark Industries logo embossed into the faux leather and the doors shine a Iron Man head puddle lamp. Outside is a bit more. There is Iron Man badging aplenty, with the front of the headlight holder having it embossed into the plastic, an Iron Man centre wheel cap, the Marvel logo on the bonnet which has also been redesigned in shape, plus the letterbox slot above the main grille has a red insert with Iron Man here. There is an Iron Man badge on the front flanks and the guards have been pumped with extra cladding.The bottom of the doors have the brilliant metallic red from the Iron Man suit with the silver inlays, and the exhaust tips in the lower rear bumper have a similar motif. the tail lights are full LED and the rear gate has Iron Man on the grab handle. The LED driving lights have a similar look to aspects of the Iron Man suit and the roof, also in red, has a dark grey Iron Man logo which complements the dark grey semi-matte coating for the body and the Stark Industries logo on the rear doors.On the Inside Is: a mix of Highlander trim and lower trim level looks. Although the seats are perforated they are not vented nor heated. The centre console around the gear selector lacks the buttons found in the Highlander and has red piping highlights. It does carry over the drive mode for Sport/Eco/Comfort, and has a lock system for the AWD. The vents have red piping highlights also and the actual aircon controls are the same as Highlander’s.
There are the usual audio and smartphone connections via the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps and USB, but the Highlander’s wireless charge pad is deleted. The driver’s seat is powered and there is memory seating. As mentioned before there is a HUD. Internal measurements are identical to the rest of the range.
Where Hyundai could have lifted the interior look is on the dash. The plastics could have been replaced by a higher tech look, perhaps a silver sheen material reflecting that found outside and on the Iron Man suit itself. Some colour for the driver’s display screen, like that seen elsewhere, would also have been welcomed.
On the Outside Is: As also mentioned, some distinctive changes to the body work. Hankook supplies the 235/45 tyres on the multispoke alloys that have red plates attached. The LED driving lights are subtly restyled from the Kona range and the view from the front also shows the lower air intake is different to the rest in the range. The colour scheme is distinctive, of course, and the paint is the type that is best wiped down and certainly not suitable for polishing.
On the Road It’s: Happily far better to drive than the 2.0L with six speed auto. It’s a 1.6L turbo four that’s essentially the same as that found in the firecracker Kia Cerato GT. There is 130kW of peak power, and that’s at 5,500rpm. Peak torque of 265Nm is available between 1,500rpm and 4,500rpm.
The seven speed dual clutch auto is mostly a delight to have along with the 1.6L turbo. It lights up from the press of the go pedal at standstill, is super responsive from 2000rpm onwards, and can be as economical as 5.5L per 100km on the freeway.
AWT finished on an overall average of 7.1L/100km in a mainly urban drive cycle. That’s decent as Hyundai quote 8.0L/100km for the urban drive, 6.0L/100km for the highway, and an overall combined figure of 6.7L/100km. Dry weight is 1,507kg at its heaviest, with a gross vehicle curb weight of just under 1,950kg.
The DCT’s glitch is standard for just about any gearbox of its type. Select Reverse, and it engages, roll out to a stop and select Drive.
It’s here that indecision strikes and there’s that pause between engaging and forward motion. It also strikes when coming to a give way sign, and it disengages, waits….and waits….and waits, before the clutches bite. Otherwise it’s super smooth, slick, and rarely did anything other than delight.
The AWD system is biased towards the front wheels and one of the driver’s screen display options is showing how much torque is split to the rear. In the Iron Man Edition it’s coloured blue, lights up a set of six or seven bars when in front wheel drive. Plant the hoof and there are four or five bars for the rear wheel wheels that really only show a couple on tarmac drive conditions. When Sport mode is selected it’s more a matter of longer gear holding and slightly crisper changes.
Steering feel is light but not to the point of losing touch with the front. There is quite a bit of communication and the ratio feels tight, possibly thanks to the AWD system providing more bite. Directional changes are rapid, composed, and the suspension is almost spot on. The front end “crashed” over a couple of speed bumps but it’s otherwise urban suitable. The brakes are a delight, too, with instant feedback and one of the best progressive feedback stories available. A driver can precisely judge just how much pressure is required at any point on its travel from top to the end. Disc sizes are up from the 2.0L Kona, at 305mm and 284mm.What About Safety?: Well there is no problem here. It’s standard Hyundai in that there is little, if anything, missing from the SafetySense package. The mandated systems such as ABS etc are here but it’s the extras that are also becoming more and more common as standard that Hyundai fits. Forward Collision Warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard here, along with four sensors for parking front and rear. There are six airbags, with the driver’s kneebag seen in other brands not seen here. Tyre pressure monitoring, pre-tensioning seatbelts, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and emergency flashing brake lights are also standard.And Warranty and Service?: Standard five years/unlimited kilometres with Hyundai’s Lifetime service plan including free first service at 1,500 kilometres, roadside assistance, and satnav upgrade plan as well.
At the End Of the Drive.
Bodywork and interior trim changes aside, the 1.6L turbo, DCT, and all wheel drive system mark the Kona Iron Man Edition as as much fun as any other Kona with the same engine. What makes the Iron Man Edition stand out is the distinctive body colour, the body mouldings, and the badging. Primary and high school runs get fingers pointing, with one high school lad coming over to the car, running his fingers over the front quarter badge and declaring: “man, that is the shit, this is so cool!” Passengers in other cars on the road would nudge the driver and point, and there was always a smile to be seen.
Absolutely it could also be seen as a somewhat cynical marketing exercise but it shows that one car company hasn’t completely lost something society needs more of: a sense of humour. Here is where you’ll find out more.