People travel from far and wide to tackle Snowdon. The highest point in the UK outside of the Scottish Highlands, it draws thousands of visitors a year, keen to take on the challenge of reaching its peak. It’s not that often, though, you’re given the chance to climb part of the mountain in a car. But when Hyundai decided to mark the launch of its Kona compact SUV with the ‘Kona 10’ challenge — a task to reach 10 of the most iconic volcanic location in the UK in under 72 hours — that’s exactly what happened.
We tackled just one section of the challenge - Snowdon. Of course, not many cars can reach the summit, so we’d be travelling along just a small section of the mountain to get a feel for it. The Miners’ Track starts at Pen-y-Pass, and gives climbers a steady start to the ascent. Though rutted and rough in places, the track is regarded as one of the easier ways to begin a climb of Snowdon. Having looked at the Kona’s road-ready tyres and lack of additional exterior protection, we didn’t argue at using this route.
Though the Kona sits in a rather crowded segment, going up against a multitude of rivals, it’s one of the few that offers four-wheel-drive. The Miners’ Track is usually closed to all vehicles, save for Snowdonia National Park trucks — making it one of the few occasions when a conventional road car had used it — so we’d be making the most of the Kona’s USP.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the drive was the lack of width; the Kona may be relatively compact but it felt almost Land Rover-wide at certain points of the journey. We wouldn’t want to be driving anything larger on these narrow tracks.
Snowdon’s height and proximity to the sea means it endures some colossally bad weather — a few days prior to our arrival it had been raining sideways, according to the track guides. The day of our trip proved to be cold but only slightly damp — ideal for making your way up the mountain.
The track snakes its way gradually higher and higher. It was still open to walkers at the time of our climb, and many were startled to see a convoy of brightly coloured cars passing them - though all courteously moved out of the way. The route curves and the sides fall away steeply, before winding its way around Llyn Teyrn — a spectacular lake huddled within two sides of a valley. It quickly passes this by, and hooks round before arriving at Llyn Llydaw — a large lake considerably bigger than Llyn Teyrn.
In truth, the Kona was never troubled by the route. Yes, the track’s diminutive width proved a little scary at points, but there was never a lack of traction nor ground clearance — both aspects that the average driver may find useful at points during daily driving. Though it’s highly unlikely many will take their Kona up the side of a mountain, it’s useful to know that it won’t falter when facing a road covered in damp leaves.
We pull up at the side of Llyn Llydaw, and remark at just how staggeringly beautiful it is. That impression quickly wears off though, and we scurry back into the warmth of the Kona’s cabin.
The Kona did, as well as being comfortingly warm in the chill of an Autumn-time Snowdon, prove more than capable of tackling the Miners’ Track. As we mentioned, there’s little chance that Kona owners will choose to take their car up Snowdon, but its four-wheel-drive system means it should inspire a little more confidence during tricky conditions than a conventional compact SUV.