Like a contestant on Love Island, where appearance seems to be everything, Hyundai’s new Kona crossover proved instantly captivating with its looks.

Passers-by were first attracted by the striking paintwork – but they didn’t know the half of it.

While bold, sharp looks and a glossy eye-catching exterior are obviously key selling points in the hard-fought compact sports utility vehicle sector, the real appeal of the Kona lies behind the wheel.

For the Kona’s blend of low, wide stance, high driving position, comfortable ride and sharp handling are a compelling combination and make for the ideal long-distance travelling companion.

In my time with the Kona I clocked up more than 800 miles, with a total of more than 21 hours spent at the wheel in a mix of driving that took in inner city crawls, high-speed motorways and the twisting roads that criss-cross the Cotswolds. All that motoring delivered average fuel consumption, according to the on-board computer, of 48.6mpg, remarkably close to the official consumption figure.

Priced from under £17,000, the Kona range is broad, spanning two- and four-wheel-drive models and power sources ranging from petrol and diesel to fully electric.

Power on the car driven here came from a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine that delivers a lot more punch than its small size might suggest. With a maximum of 120 horsepower on tap, this little turbocharged unit zips along through a slick six-speed manual gearbox.

The dashboard is dominated by a superb eight-inch touchscreen colour display, the largest of three screen options available, that combines all the functions of satellite navigation, telephone and eight-speaker Krell hi-fi. The screen also acts as a display for a rear reversing camera.

The link to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allows smartphone users to seamlessly link their phones and send and receive messages using voice control, leaving the driver’s hands where they need to be, on the wheel.

To ensure that phones are always charged, the Kona also has a wireless inductive charging pad in the central console, with a lamp displaying the phone’s charging status. To ensure the phone is not left in the car, the central display in the instrument cluster shows a reminder when switching off the engine.

The dashboard is a classy affair with clear instrumentation and a multi-function steering wheel complete with a dozen controls, though there is some hard plastic between the front seats.

Upmarket features available on the Kona range from a head-up display and electrically-adjustable heated and cooled driver’s seat, to a heated steering wheel and an autonomous emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians.

Lane keeping assist and driver attention warning systems are standard on all models with other systems available including high beam assist with static low beam assist, blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning.

There is plenty of space for both passengers and luggage, with storage trays and 1.5-litre bottle holders in the doors. The boot is sizeable and foldable rear seats treble the amount of luggage space available.

The Kona offers plenty of personalisation options with two roof designs and the choice of ten distinctive exterior colours, as well as a choice of interior colour themes with coloured stitching on the seats and steering wheel.

If Hyundai dealers can persuade potential buyers to not only admire the car from the outside but also take a test drive they will sell plenty.

Auto facts

Model: Hyundai Kona Premium 1.0 T-GDI

Price: £19,350

Insurance group: 10E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 50.4mpg

Top speed: 112mph

Length: 416.5cm/164in

Width: 180cm/70.8in

Luggage capacity: 11.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons/50 litres

CO2 emissions: 127 g/km

Warranty: Five years/ 100,000 miles