What are you driving?
A new Hyundai Kona. But don't bother looking at the challenging visuals - it's exactly the same as the Konas that have gone before. The change here comes under the bonnet, as Hyundai sees fit to introduce its first diesel powerplant to the B-segment crossover's line-up. It's called the 'U3' and it's a 1.6-litre turbocharged CRDi unit, that comes in either 115hp format with a six-speed manual gearbox, or 136hp driving through a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) - which is what we're testing here. Both models of Hyundai Kona CRDi are front-wheel drive only, reserving the 4x4 system for the 177hp T-GDI we've already driven.
The introduction of the diesel models is an effort to make the Kona a little more affordable to run, as both of them emit less CO2 than the previous best in the range, the 1.0 T-GDI Kona Comfort (117g/km). There's not much of a quoted difference between the 115hp/280Nm manual model and this 136hp/320Nm auto (67.3mpg and 112g/km CO2 versus 64.2mpg and 114g/km, respectively), so it seems like a no-brainer to go for the higher-powered variant, yet-to-be-confirmed prices notwithstanding. Oh, and while these are economically-minded versions of the Hyundai, they're by no means going to be the green saints of the range - because a zero-emissions, fully electric Kona is just around the corner.
Name its best bits
The new diesel engine is the best bit. It's really smooth, quiet and refined, and it works brilliantly with the decent seven-speed DCT. Performance isn't electrifying, but it's more than adequate, especially once the Kona is on the move and it can access its robust 320Nm in the midrange. The U3 engine is more hushed than its petrol stablemates and it offers a great blend of punch and parsimony. Also, if anything, we reckon this 1.6 diesel Kona rode better than the 177hp version we drove last, which is probably to do with the size of alloys on the crossover as much as anything else. Nevertheless, as a perfectly civil and amenable daily driver, the Kona CRDi DCT looks to be the pick of the Korean model's bunch.
Anything that bugs you?
Well, while we happen to quite like them, we're well aware that the Kona's extravagant exterior looks aren't to all tastes. The interior remains a little bit too staid and plasticky, in an era when gauche, colourful dash pads and console stickers are all the rage. And it's not the biggest B-segment crossover inside: both rear seat and boot space are average, rather than exceptional.
Dynamically, the steering is a touch sticky off-centre and the weighting is a little OTT, too, which means that while you can throw the Kona CRDi about quite aggressively if you really must (it has surprisingly high levels of front-end grip and impressive body control), it'll be rare the person who actually has fun pushing the Hyundai crossover up a deserted backroad. We're going to have to wait for the Kona N for that sort of malarkey...
And why have you given it this rating?
Not many B-segment crossovers are great to drive, so the Kona shouldn't be marked down for a slightly reserved chassis. It should be praised for its looks, love 'em or loathe 'em, because at least they're not boring and safe and conservative. Shame the same can't be said about the Hyundai's interior. Despite all this, though, and even in the face of a backlash against diesel, the addition of the diesel engine to the Kona's ranks is a fully understandable and rather well-executed move on the Korean company's part.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Hyundai Kona 1.6 CRDi 136 DCT that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.