What is it?
Kona Iron Man Edition is inspired by the famous Marvel character of the same name.
It’s a funky, spunky, cool-looking machine with bodywork and interior additions drawn from the character, played by Robert Downey Jr. in the movie franchise.
Physically, it’s a mix of the mid-spec and top of the line Highlander, with a punchy 1.6-litre turbo four cylinder petrol engine that’s good for 130kW and 265Nm, with peak twist available through a very useable 1500 to 4500rpm rev range.
Transmission is via a 7-speed dual clutch auto and powers all four corners on demand — otherwise it remains a front-wheel drive biased machine.
What’s it cost?
It’s a touch pricier than Highlander at $39,990 plus on-roads.
That’s not an unreasonable ask considering only 400 will be made available.
What is on and in the Iron Man Edition is kinda cool if you’re a bit of a geek.
A red insert above the main radiator grille is embossed with the words Iron Man.
Behind the plastic covers, the ends of the headlights are also embossed, while the LED driving lights have been re-profiled to evoke an Iron Man look.
The 18-inch alloys, with 235/55 profile rubber, get red-coloured plates and Iron Man centre cap, while the front guards also have an Iron Man logo with extra cladding around the wheel arches.
Both doors get a deep red plate with silver insert, much like the Iron Man suit, with Stark Industries lettering for the rear doors.
The tailgate has Iron Man in the handle insert, the lower valance a silver look mirroring the lower doors, and the whole car’s lower section is a deep metallic grey.
It’s the same kind of grey paint found on other Hyundai vehicles than can be washed, but isn’t suitable for polishing.
The roof is the same red as the door inserts and features an Iron Man head and Marvel logo, while the bonnet has a scallop near the windscreen and another Marvel logo.
Open the doors at night and puddle lamps project an image matches the roof.
Inside are perforated faux leather seats, almost a vinyl look. They have Stark Industries and Iron Man heads embossed.
The top of the gear selector matches the binnacle dials with triangular motifs.
The dash in front of the passenger has a Tony Stark signature and the Head Up Display borrowed from the Highlander plays a graphic inspired by the Iron Man films.
The Iron Man Edition doesn’t provide heating or venting for the seats, and does away with the smartphone charging pad. There are, though, red highlights around the gear selector and aircon vents.
There driving aid buttons from the Highlander are also missing, but interior dimensions, safety features, and equipment are largely the same.
The rippled section that runs across the dash represents a missed opportunity. A silver insert mimicking the Iron Man suit look would have been appreciated.
Also, the dash display screen is full monochrome — some colour here would be welcome.
A four bar graph shows the all-wheel drive system in operation, as drive is apportioned front to rear.
All the bars light up blue in normal, front-wheel drive operation. Go hard and some bars disappear, lighting up the ones for the rear wheels.
What’s it go like?
Compared to the somewhat sluggish 2.0-litre model that we drove recently, the 1.6-litre turbo is a revelation.
It’s a free revving, potent, enjoyable engine. The dual clutch auto swaps cogs intuitively when underway, but isn’t without typical DCT traits.
Start the car, reverse, select Drive, and . . . wait. Although in real terms it’s less than a second, the re-engagement of the drive system feels interminable.
Note too that when coming to a Give Way sign, there’s that momentary lack of drive, and a push on the go pedal has the transmission scrambling to lock clutches for forward motion.
Go hard from a stand-still and legal freeway speeds are seen pretty quickly. The DCT bangs seamlessly through the seven ratios, and it’s a well sorted unit under steam.
With pre-selection of the next cog it’s almost as if there’s a wire connected to the brain, reading the conversation between grey matter, the foot and gearbox. It works as well as a DCT in full flight should.
It’s somewhat disconcerting to see how easily the needle races to the 100km/h when everything hooks up.
Grip is plentiful, handling is flat, and body roll negligible. The suspension is well sorted but on one particular bump the front end banged hard on the bumpstops. That was most unexpected considering the otherwise pleasant road manners.
The brakes are great too. There’s almost immediate engagement, and the travel tells you from top to bottom just what is happening — it’s that communicative.
The steering is well calibrated, lacking the over-assisted feel sometimes found. Although Hyundai, like Kia, offers a three-driving mode system, to move it from default is pointless.
Sports mode does little for the steering and on the driving side really only holds gear a little longer. Interestingly, though, there are no paddle shifts.
As an overall driving package, it’s a delight and a smart choice for going down a movie tie-in route.
It certainly garnered plenty of attention on school runs, and quite a few disbelieving looks from others on the road.
Best economy seen was 5.9L/100km, with Hyundai quoting 6.0L/100km for the highway, 8.0L/100km in the urban jungle, and 6.7L/100km on the combined cycle.
Our combined figure worked out to be 7.1L/100km.
Gross vehicle mass is 1950kg.
What we like?
- Spunky, funky, “sod you, doubters” looks
- Sparkling performance from the drivetrain
- Not a car for the shy
What we don’t like?
- Interior could use an extra bit of visual lift
- Some Highlander trim would have been welcome
- Not a car for the shy
The bottom line?
It’s a bold step from a company not known for its sense of humour.
It works, irrespective of that. The add-ons are well thought out and integrated. It’s an eye-catching package and the driveline shades the 2.0-litre setup completely.
A few cosmetic changes and it could be even more appealing inside. Plus, being a car based on a character with a bent towards technology, lacking of a smartphone charger and seat venting/heating is somewhat ironic.
But it IS a fun car, an economical car to drive, and there will be those that will ask for no more than that.
CHECKOUT: Taking Hyundai’s new Kona for a spin
Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition, priced from $39,990