Hyundai has added a new, small SUV to its lineup called the Kona.

Sitting under the Tucson and Santa Fe in terms of size it will allow the Korean company to go head to head with the likes of Mazda’s CX-3 and Toyota’s funky new CH-R.

But some tyre kickers could find the styling a bit off-putting, with plenty of grey plastic cladding on the flanks instead of proper work.

It didn’t work for BMW with the X3 nor did it find favour with buyers of the fifth generation VW Golf – the latter quickly went to a new model minus the cladding.

Kona is named after Hawaii’s Kona Coast region, the place where Captain Cook was killed by natives in 1779 (in Portugal however it’s been renamed Kauai, because Kona is too close to “cona” -slang for female genitalia).

According to Hyundai, Kona has been developed to meet both the “rational and emotional needs” of buyers and neatly blends the key elements required of such a vehicle, with dynamic and expressive design and advanced safety and technology features.

The car was designed by Luc Donckerwolke who is rumoured to be up for the top job at the company if and when Peter Schreyer leaves (both have worked for Audi).

Donckerwolke’s credentials include a stint as head for design for Lamborghini where he was responsible for the 2001 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0, 2002 Lamborghini Murciélago and 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo,

Kona comes with a choice of 110kW 2.0-litre naturally aspirated or 130kW 1.6-litre turbocharged four cylinder engines, both of which have been seen previously in other models.

Overseas they also get a diesel.

Kona sits on the same platform as the i20 and Kia Rio (Kia’s version is called the Stonic but at last ask it’s not coming here).

It’s described as one of the most compact vehicles in its class, shorter and lower than most of its rivals but also wider than many and with a substantial wheelbase and short front and rear overhangs.

At the same time it is supposed to be one of the roomiest.

“Kona will appeal to customers with active lifestyles, a sense of adventure and a keen eye for value,” Hyundai CEO J W Lee said.

Oe of the more interesting features of the car is Hyundai Auto Link, technology that connects the car computer with your mobile phone via Bluetooth.

It offers access to everything from real-time vehicle diagnostics, including tyre pressure monitoring and vehicle ‘health-check’ status, to driving history statistics, parking management, easy service scheduling and automatic access to roadside assistance if required.

Prices for Kona start from $27,000 drive away.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.