Do two new compact crossovers, the Hyundai Kona and Opel Crossland X, have what it takes to reignite a bit of new-car interest from punters in 2019? With the local car market in slow puncture for the last 18 months due to a stagnating economy, the once-popular SUV has become, for many, a transport solution they can no longer entertain. Increased fuel prices, high cost of ownership and an over proliferation of models has kept buyers off new-car showrooms all together.
The Ford EcoSport quite rightly stakes claim to market leadership in small SUVs – one in three crossovers/small SUVs sold in SA is an EcoSport, and it’s been that way for the last four years. It appears that for all the ills confronting larger SUVs, these two could very well be the antidote, to steel a bit of thunder from the Blue Oval. Both sport turbocharged, downsized three-cylinder petrol motors and on paper it’s almost too close to call. Thankfully this isn’t paper and we’ve actually put them to the test.
The Kona sports the most overt styling of the two. Hyundai admits it wanted as striking an aesthetic as possible for the new Kona and depending on your tastes you’ll either love it or leave it. We happen to love the dominant trapezoidal front grille, arrangement of headlights separate from DLR and fog lights, big 17-inch wheels, 170 mm ground clearance, and roof rails. The Crossland X by comparison is more subdued, much more MPV than edgy crossover. From A to C pillar it’s all one shapeless mass, more functional than aesthetically considered, Opel has pushed the wheels out to each corner as if to say nothing compromises interior convenience. It shouts less about its size, when it is in fact still a very large vehicle when you give it a second take.
With that in mind, you’d probably expect interior spaciousness to go to the Opel. After all, being the taller, blobbier car of the two must come with some benefits, right? But it’s the Hyundai that has more interior stowage space: 360 litres plays 288 litres in the Opel. It’s the Crossland X’s cabin that has an uncluttered feel upfront and doesn’t suffer from the loss of space with a taper in the C pillar area. The Kona feels far more cosseting, with narrower windows, a higher beltline and an interior that surrounds the driver. It lends itself to almost a conventional hatchback feel, which just happens to be a bit higher off the ground. The Hyundai has the Opel beat as far as the quality of plastics and switch gear goes.
Both are evenly matched in the power and torque departments. The Hyundai Kona’s 1.0-litre TGDI makes 88 kW and 172 Nm, while the Opel Crossland X’s slightly bigger 1.2-litre three-cylinder has less power at 81 kW but more torque at 205 Nm. It’s much of a muchness as far as performance goes. The Opel canters to 100 km/h from standstill in 13 seconds and tops out at 188 km/h, while the Hyundai does the deed in 12 seconds but runs out of gear ratios at 181 km/h. Much of a muchness, as we said. Of great benefit to buyers of these turbocharged, downsized motors is petrol-engine response and refinement, offset by diesel-engine economy. Or so the manufacturers would have you believe.
This is why we’ve put particular emphasis on fuel economy in this test. The Opel’s claimed/combined consumption figure is a scarcely believable 4.9 l/100 km and the Hyundai’s is rated at 6.8 l/100 km. Why the massive discrepancy when they’re so closely matched in all other departments? We really can’t tell… but it gets better. Because in the real world, the Opel achieved nowhere near that consumption figure, using 7.5 l/100 km, while Hyundai is clearly underestimating the Kona’s fuel-sipping abilities and returned a figure of 6.0 l/100 km. A 100 kg difference in curb weight (1250 kg vs 1350 kg) the reason for the Korean vehicle’s clear advantage here.
This dovetails with the Kona’s other overwhelming plus point, its stability and road holding which bests the Crossland X markedly, and is undoubtedly attributable to its lower centre of gravity and more aerodynamic stance. Ultimately, styling is a purely subjective matter, and while it is the Kona that’s more to our tastes, we’ve also proven the Hyundai performs better, is more practical and more economical. You know what, it’s just more, and it appears you can separate them by one more crucial factor – price. The Opel Crossland X Cosmo retails for R370 876, while our winner, the Hyundai Kona TGDI Executive costs a smidge more at R379 900, it’ll be money well spent.
Hyundai Kona 1.0 TGDI Executive
Engine: 998 cc, 3-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 88 kW @ 6 000 rpm, 172 Nm @ 1500 – 4 000 rpm
Performance tested: 0-100 km/h 12 sec, top speed 181 km/h
Tyres: 215/55 R17
Economy: 6.8 l/100 km (claimed)
Transmission: 6-speed manual
CO2 emissions: 138 g/km
Price: R379 900
Opel Crossland X 1.2 T Cosmo
Engine: 1198 cc, 3-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 81 kW @ 6 000 rpm, 205 Nm @ 1500 – 4 000 rpm
Performance tested: 0-100 km/h 13 sec, top speed 188 km/h
Tyres: 215/50 R17
Economy: 4.9 l/100 km (claimed)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
CO2 emissions: 111 g/km
Price: R370 876