Automotive

2019 Kona 2.0 GLS: Mr. Extrovert

Feeling flashy

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Is it a crossover? Is it a hatchback? Is it an APV? I, too, was confused when I first laid eyes on the 2019 Hyundai Kona. It was one of a kind, unique from any segment I was familiar with.

In line with the Mazda CX3 and Honda HRV, the Kona is a subcompact crossover SUV.

This vehicle is a true head-turner. I highly appreciate car companies whose designs are bold and thought of outside the box. In short, designs that make a statement.

The sleek and futuristic look of the Kona is best complemented in the flagship color Acid Yellow that gave my child-like imagination the impression of a glowing radioactive spaceship.

From the front, its fascia is exciting and modern in style with the growing trend of separated headlight design (like the Nissan Juke), streamlined daytime running lights, and low set fog lamps all go together with Hyundai’s trademark grille design.

Side profiles are matched with dynamic character lines as well as accents of matte black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and rocker panels.

Walking around to the back, you will find a design that is very consistent with the front. It’s almost identical and probably has one of the best looking rear-ends in its segment.

If we were to personify this Kona, it would undoubtedly be an extrovert. He’d be that kind of guy who’s not afraid of being a little flashy and would confidently come up to you to get your attention.

What I’m not a big fan of is the unnecessary amount of plastic cladding. Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle with this type of material will agree when I say it demands high maintenance since it tends to fade quickly.

Overall, the exterior feels exciting and fun, but stepping inside is a different story.

The interior is, well, basic. Scratchy-hard and soft plastic, fabrics, and polyurethane are the main materials used for the interior. It doesn’t give you the same exhilaration as the exterior and sadly feels like it stepped out of character.

Mounted on the dashboard, you will find a somewhat unappealing infotainment system — A non-touchscreen mono LCD unit that’s initially confusing to use while underneath is its manual climate control. Oh, and its instrument panel didn’t help spice the interior up, either, as it seemed a little too straightforward for this car’s asking price.

On the up-side, cabin space and comfort are not lacking whatsoever. With head and legroom to spare and plenty of cargo space for everyone. Cup holders, USB ports, and 12V sockets also come as standard.

When it comes to safety, Hyundai didn’t skimp on this crossover as it earned a high safety rating in the United States. With a score of 9.8, it has been given the Top Safety Pick+ award. It has Anti-Lock Braking System, traction control, dual airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard.

The ride is decently high with a ground clearance of 170mm, nearly as much as its bigger brother, the Tucson. Firing up the engine via keyless push-start button, you hear a smooth running 2.0 DOHC engine.

This is then mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 147hp and 179nm of torque. It’s not the most powerful but is definitely one of the most economical, giving you up to 20km per liter (at best) on highways.

The Kona has three different driving modes you can shift through with a push of a button. You have Normal, Eco and Sport modes which just basically times gear changes differently to give you better responsiveness.

Driving this vehicle is very simple with no unneeded drama. The ride felt smooth and quiet while steering felt properly firm. You do get a bit of body roll around the corners, though.

Lacking from this vehicle is a reverse camera and proximity sensors and, from its price point, you would expect these features as standard. A feature I didn’t find necessary was the hill descent control which would be useful on its AWD variant but not on the FWD version that we have.

For now, the 2.0 GLS is the only variant available here in the Philippines. A straightforward, rather basic but economical ride that would make a perfect daily driver. Although if I were to choose between the two Kona models, I would probably go for the higher AWD 1.6 turbo Ultimate trim model which is a better option than the GLS trim.

To sum it up, it’s a bit of a bummer that it lacks a reverse camera, proximity sensors, and still runs a sub-par infotainment system in this age of touchscreens and Android Auto.  What I do like, though, is how it looks. This car unquestionably wins in the looks department. And factoring in its safety achievements and fuel economy, we can easily overlook its shortcomings.

Automotive

Tesla’s Autopilot saves family from deadly accident

Eight people were saved overall

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It’s not often that you hear a story about Tesla’s Autopilot saving lives from deadly mishaps. However, that’s what exactly happened in the UK last Saturday. Tesla’s Autopilot function literally saved eight people from a falling tree which could have resulted to their deaths.

The whole accident happened while a powerful storm ravaged the UK’s countryside. Laurence Sanderson, the man behind the wheel of a Tesla Model X, was driving when a large tree suddenly fell due to strong winds. In an interview with Mirror UK, Sanderson said he was unable to react on time.

Luckily though, Tesla’s Autopilot function kicked in and automatically applied brakes. While the tree did considerable damage, it could have totally crushed the car if not for that function. Laurence, his wife, and his three kids were saved by Tesla’s technology.

And by chance, the technology also saved three people in a separate Tesla Model X. Josh Whitelock was driving the other Tesla in the opposite direction when the tree fell towards their car. As with the other Tesla, this car’s Autopilot function kicked in and saved him, his girlfriend, and his mother from death.

The two Tesla Model X involved in the accident | Image by Mirror UK

All in all, Tesla’s Autopilot literally saved eight people. While the function is still far away from enabling a true driverless experience for Tesla owners, they can rest assured that their car’s Autopilot works on keeping lives away from harm.

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Automotive

LG debuts world’s first curved OLED for cars

Featured in 2021 Cadillac Escalade

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Pretty soon, smartphones and televisions won’t be the only place you’ll find OLED screens in. The automotive industry is slowly perfecting the OLED screen for everyone’s cars. In particular, LG is partnering with a few car makers for this endeavor.

Earlier this week, Cadillac has launched the 2021 Escalade. Aside from what’s under the hood, the iconic SUV debuts the industry’s first-ever use of a curved OLED screen in a car. The massive 38-inch display houses LG’s P-OLED Digital Cockpit Solution. The all-new software displays the vehicle information and infotainment system.

The display itself combines three separate P-OLED panels into one. The largest panel measures 16.9 inches.

LG is also boasting a new augmented reality-enabled navigation system and night vision. Presumably, the new features make driving friendlier for any road condition and driving time.

With the 2021 Escalade’s debut, LG dips its toe into the automotive display market. It predicts substantial market growth in the industry by 2023. The display company is also expected to debut a similar display in Mercedes Benz vehicles later this year.

SEE ALSO: LG withdraws from MWC 2020 due to Coronavirus outbreak

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Automotive

My favorite pony made more fun

The thrill of rolling on a top-down ‘stang

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No doubt, the most powerful car I’ve driven for the past year is the Ford Mustang 5.0 GT and it never fails to impress. This adrenaline-inducing speed machine was made more enjoyable as it now comes as a convertible. In my book, nothing else screams “fun” like this American muscle car.

The styling of the current model stays true to its heritage with that massive vented hood that gives the car a masculine and bold look. It has its intimidating headlamps along with an aggressive grille, broad shoulder and beltlines, and the iconic triple lamp tail lights which we all recognize.

Yes, this car looks stunning, but what Mustang enthusiasts are really after is performance. Ford has managed to fine-tune the current model to near perfection. Significant improvements and changes to power, handling, and safety of the vehicle were also ensured.

The updated 5.0 Coyote V8 is now fitted with high-pressure direct injection, bigger intake and exhaust valves, and increased compression ratios (12:0:1) boosting power to 460hp and 569Nm of torque with redline increased to 7500rpm and now mated to a 10-speed gearbox.

The sound of the engine alone is exhilarating as all that V8 goodness rumble. The independent rear suspensions, along with improved dampers, make this car very agile and easy around the corners.

In addition, you now have customizable steering settings that can change the steering wheel’s responsiveness and stiffness with a push of a button.

Other notable updates are the obvious facelift, featuring a newly designed hood with a lower grille and headlamps, new front and rear bumper and fender design, a more aggressive rear redesign with quad-tip exhaust and a sportier rear diffuser standard across all GT models.

Full LED headlights, a new full 12 inch LCD digital instrument cluster, and a 10-inch infotainment system with a 12-speaker setup are also what awaits you. You can even customize each selectable drive mode and get a number of performance metrics straight from your instrument panel.

Safety features also got an update such as pre-collision emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.

The interior also stays true to Mustang’s styling cues with those classic circular air vents, brushed aluminum accents all around, and soft-touch plastic and leather trims. Front seats are fairly comfortable while the rear may be a bit cramped especially if you’re tall.

Let’s get down to the driving experience. As soon as you get on the driver’s seat, you kind of feel a connection with the car and it just gives you an extra confidence boost.

Turning on the engine was already an exhilarating experience for me. And when I took it to our favorite scenic road in Sierra Madre on Normal Mode, it felt surprisingly comfortable for a sports car.  It was smooth, quiet, and tame.

However, the whole car transforms completely once you set the driving mode to Sport+ Mode. It becomes a proper race car with power that just blows me away. We are talking 0-100 in under four seconds.

Throttle response is more sensitive while gear shifts are more delayed. And to top it all, drive it with the roof down and you will have the time of your life — I know I did.

A piece of advice though, try not to use its paddle shifters on Normal Mode. You downshift second gear using the paddle shifter and the car disapproves of your choices. It has a mind of its own and will immediately put you back into third gear making the maneuver super slow while simply making its engine grunt. It’s better to just floor it. And with the roof down, people will definitely remember your face, the guy in a Mustang who failed overtaking a Corolla.

Overall, the Mustang GT Convertible is probably one of the most fun cars I’ve driven. It can drive like a tame and normal vehicle and be as brutal as a race car.  Given the new updates, you are getting more tech for your money. Fuel economy is not the best, but people buying this car will probably not mind, given what this car has to offer.

If you’re only after the looks of the Mustang, probably get the Ecoboost variant for better fuel economy, but Mustang enthusiasts will definitely enjoy the 5.0 V8. In my opinion, this model is very much worth the upgrade from the 2015-2017 Mustang.

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